Articles on this Page
- 05/18/17--16:00: _Omaruru council pro...
- 05/18/17--16:00: _Special counsel to ...
- 05/18/17--16:00: _Zuma, ANC square off
- 05/18/17--16:00: _Friday cartoon
- 05/18/17--16:00: _Football needs supp...
- 05/18/17--16:00: _You gotta love the...
- 05/18/17--16:00: _Otji's platform com...
- 05/18/17--16:00: _Kapepu confesses to...
- 05/18/17--16:00: _E-death notificatio...
- 05/18/17--16:00: _Unhappy SPYL member...
- 05/18/17--16:00: _Disability Council ...
- 05/18/17--16:00: _Shoprite told to dr...
- 05/18/17--16:00: _Shafudah denies all...
- 05/18/17--16:00: _Construction bleeding
- 05/18/17--16:00: _Seven months in hos...
- 05/18/17--16:00: _Rhino horns interce...
- 05/20/17--02:15: _Suspended OTA counc...
- 05/20/17--02:15: _Suspended OTA counc...
- 05/21/17--16:00: _Support the underdogs
- 05/21/17--16:00: _Mega fight gets closer
- 05/18/17--16:00: Omaruru council proposes 5% tariff increase
- 05/18/17--16:00: Special counsel to probe Trump-Russia links
- 05/18/17--16:00: Zuma, ANC square off
- 05/18/17--16:00: Friday cartoon
- 05/18/17--16:00: Football needs support, not interference
- 05/18/17--16:00: You gotta love the people of Omaheke
- 05/18/17--16:00: Otji's platform community
- 05/18/17--16:00: Kapepu confesses to murder
- 05/18/17--16:00: E-death notification system next
- 05/18/17--16:00: Unhappy SPYL members head to court
- 05/18/17--16:00: Disability Council wants meeting with Air Namibia
- 05/18/17--16:00: Shoprite told to drop charges
- 05/18/17--16:00: Shafudah denies allegations
- 05/18/17--16:00: Construction bleeding
- 05/18/17--16:00: Seven months in hospital without X-rays
- 05/18/17--16:00: Rhino horns intercepted at airport
- 05/20/17--02:15: Suspended OTA councillors represt OTA
- 05/20/17--02:15: Suspended OTA councillors represt OTA
- 05/21/17--16:00: Support the underdogs
- 05/21/17--16:00: Mega fight gets closer
Assessment rates for properties, business registration, water services, cemetery services, hiring of machinery, use of sport and recreational facilities, space rental for hawkers, refuse removal, urban planning and property management are but some of the services that will be affected by the increase in the 2017/18 financial year.
An increase of 50-80% has been proposed for the rental of municipal buildings by ministries.
The council has also introduced a new category outlining sale prices for various types of land both in the centre of town and the Ozondje residential area.
These prices are expected to set a benchmark for land prices as council depends on highly disputed property valuation rolls and council's own discretion when attaching value to land they want to sell.
During a community meeting on Sunday, Omaruru mayor Hendrina Gebhardt said the council was preparing to operate with less funding from the central government because of budget cuts.
“The drought that caused a severe water crisis last year cost the municipality a lot as most projects had to be put on hold while the council used the funds on alternative water supply sources,” Gebhardt said while motivating the proposed increases.
Acting CEO Elifas Amunyela, who is also the finance manager, shot down requests from the community for a 3% increase citing the dire financial constraints the municipality faces.
Some of the incomplete capital projects include the interlocking of pavements on both sides of the road from Agra at the southern entrance to the town up to the Shell Service Station at the opposite end of the town.
Servicing of Oruue, Sonskyn, Hakahana and 7de Laan, all recently formalised settlements which are currently in various phases of receiving sewer reticulation and pre-paid water and electricity, will also require council funding during this financial year.
The US president stands accused of seeking to stall the politically-explosive probe following his shock dismissal of the FBI chief James Comey, and allegations that he asked Comey to drop his investigation of a former aide.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tapped Robert Mueller - a widely-respected figure who headed the FBI for the decade after the 9/11 attacks - to take over the FBI's probe of “Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters.”
“Based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command,” Rosenstein said in a statement.
Capping days of political drama in Washington, the move came as pressure mounted in Congress for an independent probe into ties between Trump's campaign and Moscow, which US intelligence chiefs say interfered to tilt the election in the Republican's favour.
A special counsel is empowered to conduct the investigation independent of the Justice Department hierarchy, with a dedicated staff of his choosing. The counsel is not required to consult with or keep informed the attorney general or deputy attorney generals on the course of the probe.
The special counsel is also authorized to prosecute any crimes unearthed by the investigation.
Rosenstein's order came a week after he played a key role in Trump's firing of Comey, who had overseen the FBI investigation into Russia's election interference since last July.
The deputy attorney general penned a letter criticizing Comey's – handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton's emails, which provided the White House with the rationale for firing Comey and raised questions about Rosenstein's own ability to remain politically independent.
His boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, was forced to recuse himself from the investigation in March due to his own undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
Pressure to place the Russia probe in independent hands intensified this week following reports that Trump pressured Comey to reel back the Russia investigation as it pertained to Michael Flynn, the national security advisor who was fired over concerns about his Russian contacts.
Trump's alleged pressure on Comey - denied by the White House - has exposed the president to accusations of obstructing justice.
Mueller was director of the FBI from 2001 to 2013, a period when he was forced to shake up a huge bureaucracy blamed for missing evidence that could have prevented the September 11, 2001 attacks.
During his tenure he served both Republican and Democratic presidents, and is highly respected by both parties.
He is empowered to examine “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” Rosenstein's order says.
Trump has consistently rejected any suggestion of collusion between his camp and Moscow as “fake news” and complained in a speech on Wednesday that he had been treated “more unfairly” than any US leader in history during his fledgling presidency.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said this week that the party told Zuma's administration to rescind a decision to reappoint Brian Molefe, who'd been implicated in a graft probe, as the head of the state power utility.
Last month three of the party's top six leaders slated the president's decision to fire Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, a move that cost the nation its investment-grade credit rating from S&P Global Ratings and Fitch.
The faction fighting is pushing the ANC across a line that threatens its integrity as a coherent political force, said Aubrey Matshiqi, an independent political analyst.
“It is a line beyond which an organisation such as the ANC becomes a snake that starts eating itself from the tail,” he said.
The standoff comes ahead of a no-confidence motion in Zuma brought by opposition MPs and a December conference where the ANC will elect a new leader, who'll also be its presidential candidate in 2019 elections.
Zuma has indicated that he favours Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, his ex-wife and the former head of the African Union commission, to succeed him, while his opponents are rallying around Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“Zuma is in control of government and the party is on many levels organising and mobilising against not only Zuma, but the government,” Andre Duvenhage, a politics professor at North West University in Potchefstroom, said by phone. “Conflict is escalating as a result of the succession battle.”
The ANC signalled the depth of its frustration with Zuma's administration when it responded to Molefe's reappointment as chief executive officer of Eskom by lamenting the “South African public's absolute exasperation and anger at what seems to be government's lacklustre and lackadaisical approach to dealing decisively with corruption”.
So far, Zuma has held the upper hand within the ANC's decision-making national executive committee, which rejected a proposal to remove him at a meeting in November. While Ramaphosa, Mantashe and treasurer general Zweli Mkhize criticised Gordhan's firing, the ANC's national working committee (NEC), which oversees the day-to-day running of the party, endorsed the decision.
Yet the president's grip on power remains tenuous. The NEC may again discuss his removal at a scheduled meeting this month, while the Constitutional Court is considering an application to order a secret ballot for the planned no-confidence vote. Opposition parties hope that will entice ANC legislators to vote against Zuma because it removes the risk of them losing their jobs.
“The danger for Zuma is that he overreaches and by going outside of ANC protocol and policies, which are fairly well established, he risks losing or cutting off his support base,” Mike Davies, the founder of political advisory company Kigoda Consulting, said in an interview in Cape Town.
The ANC's former head of intelligence, Zuma's eight-year tenure as president has been dogged by scandal, including a finding by the nation's top court that he violated his oath of office by refusing to repay taxpayer money spent on his private home. The public backlash contributed to the ANC losing control of Johannesburg, Pretoria and other towns in municipal elections in August.
In a report last year, the public protector called for a judicial probe to determine if Zuma allowed members of the Gupta family, who are in business with his son, to influence Cabinet appointments and the awarding of state contracts.
It also indicated that Molefe favoured the Guptas by awarding coal-supply contracts and helping them buy Optimum Coal.
Zuma and the Guptas denied wrongdoing, as did Molefe, who said he resigned in the interests of good corporate governance.
Zuma hasn't commented on Molefe's reappointment and justified his March 31 decision to fire Gordhan and make 19 other changes to his executive by saying he needed to bring more young people and women into the Cabinet. Zuma's spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga and ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa didn't immediately respond to calls seeking comment.
Molefe's return to Eskom shows the ANC is no longer in charge of the country, Joel Netshitenzhe, a member of its national executive, told party members at a meeting this month in Colesberg.
Whatever the outcome, the power struggle between Zuma and the ANC is damaging the party, according to Matshiqi.
“There was a time when the ANC would have been insulated by its dominance in the electoral landscape, but that time has passed,” Matshiqi said. “Ultimately the ANC will lose power if does not manage these internal divisions.”
Here in Omaheke we all stop at Plaas Kombuis for that lekker biltong, beef chops and ‘katkop’ – Omaheke’s own version of the Indian Bunny Chow – every time we embark on a journey to one of the many villages around Gobabis.
You see, almost everyone shops at Plaas Kombuis before hitting the road and it is therefore a perfect platform to show others that you are a farmer of note. If you are seen in Plaas Kombuis during the day, in the middle of the week, chances are you are merely shopping around for specials.
But if you are spotted at this Take-Away/Grocer in the late hours of the day on a Friday, everyone slowly claps in appreciation as you enter (at which stage you are obliged to bow your head in appreciation). To them, you are a real man.
You are made to feel like Steven Seagal walking towards the camera in slow motion, with his shirt unbuttoned, carrying the almost lifeless body of an Indian girl he just saved from an explosion. Yeah, the hero has returned. Roll end credits!
After Plaas Kombuis, the next logical stop is the La bamba Service Station, where you would fill up your car – or your wife’s, depending on who has more moola in your home between the two of you.
La bamba offers Omaheke Residents the rare opportunity to mingle with each other and boast about the sizes of the respective Brahman bulls to each other, as they wait on the petrol attendant to serve them.
I recently overheard two Herero uncles, one driving a Toyota Hillux 2.4 Diesel and the other an Isuzu 2.5 Diesel, boasting about their farming activities. I tell you, if the petrol attendant had not intervened by asking “How much…” he should top up the Toyota with, we would have probably witnessed a fist - or knop kierie fight.
“So Kotjinjo, how are things at the village?” the first man asked
“Mbuae ourumbu uriri (Nothing much, just drought),” the other answered.
“Ja, that is good – let your cattle die. I told you that the lick you use is outdated and weak but you wouldn’t listen. Let them all die.”
“Mbuae how can you say that. It is stupid people like you who farm with Simmentaler and drives Isuzu who say such stupid things…”
“What? What about you old fashioned people still hooked on the Brahman and drive Toyota?”
That, my dear friends is life in Omaheke. I know of a village – in fact an entire constituency in this great region where everyone knows everyone’s cell phone number. Ok, let me put it into context; they might not know the owner of the phone personally but they know his or her number anyway!
I am told this happened after a certain shopkeeper went to Gobabis’ MTC Mobile Home and brought SIM cards serialised in chronological order, making all cellular phone numbers to follow each other.
The first cellular phone number, which was sold to a man from a village in the same constituency, ended in …300. The next was ‘301’ and so on – all the way to ‘399’. So, instead of giving their full phone numbers, the villagers would simply ask “What is your extension?”
In Gobabis, you are never known by your name; a taxi driver would for instance not ask a stranger to Gobabis as to which street, or Erf number the person is headed to – he would ask: “Who is the owner of the house? What car does he drive? Who is her boyfriend? Based on your reply on these questions – Mr.Taxi Driver will be able to take you safely ‘home’!
As for the laddies…eish, just get yourself a diesel bakkie my brother and you can already start planning you wedding. Women here are so attracted to a man driving a diesel bakkie, doesn’t matter the year model.
I recently acquired one – 1990 model. It is still resting on bricks on my backyard, but a diesel bakkie is a diesel bakkie broer. You just wait and see!
All who live on the open platform, originally intended for a woodcarvers market, are either homeless or have moved there for economic opportunities, and although they are illegally trespassing on municipal land, a blind eye has been cast to date, although this will change in the coming months.
Many of the families, who have found shelter on the shaded cement platform are facing possible expulsion after the property was sold to a developer recently.
The CEO of the Otjiwarongo Municipality's Ismael /Howoseb said this week that pollution is a problem at the platform, including rubbish and other waste, and the fact that the tent dwellers use the nearby area for ablution purposes.
The municipality regularly sends cleaning crews and hands out black bags to the people staying on the platform, in an effort to manage the waste at the site, one of the shelter's residents said.
The plot has been sold to a private developer, who intends to open an arts and crafts centre and this means the drifters and others will have to move from the area once construction begins.
/Howoseb added that some of the squatters who hail from the across the border will have to be referred to home affairs, to confirm their legal status of being in the country.
Poverty, joblessness and desperation are a common feature among many of the people who live on the platform and some say that fights and alcohol abuse are both rife on the platform.
With winter looming, many who spoke to Namibian Sun said they hoped to be able to secure enough blankets to keep themselves and their families, small children among them, warm in the coming months.
For some, primarily from the Kavango West region, the tented camp on the shaded cement platform offers a temporary trading base, from where they can operate their businesses.
Many use the base to dispatch woodcarvings and wooden planks, which arrive regularly from the north.
Others import regional food items, selling them at markets in Otjiwarongo.
Daniel Kasavi (49) explained that his is a professional wood carver, who has stayed on the platform at regular intervals for about a year, along with his wife and three children. They share one large tent, he said.
He and the family regularly travel back home, to Nkurenkuru, where they collect new wood materials and have temporary jobs.
Kasavi explained that he is unable to secure sufficient money for his family if he stays in the north and that the Otjiwarongo base was ideal for transporting carvings to Okahandja and receiving new material from the north.
Ten years adrift
For others, the platform is a more permanent base, the only option.
Jannie Drotsky, 54-years-old, claimed he has lived, on and off, on the platform for 10 years, telling Namibian Sun he was the first person to erect a tent on the cement block, or 'stoep' as long-timers call the informal shelter, in December 2007.
He owns two tents on the platform, a large one, which he has lent to a friend and a smaller one, filled with bedding, his treasured books and his meagre possessions.
He loves reading and regularly lends books from the local Otjiwarongo library, where he has been a member for several years.
Drotsky, originally from Rehoboth, admitted that he has struggled with alcohol addiction for many years, and that many who live on the platform struggle with similar problems.
“Alcohol is evil. And a lot of people start fighting when we drink.”
On the day he spoke to Namibian Sun, he had earned N$22 from collecting bottles and had bought bread and a packet of soup.
“There are good days, especially if you get a job or some money. But there are bad days, especially now with winter approaching.”
His journey to the open-air, informal shelter began after he left prison more than a decade ago, and as he describes it, was subsequently systematically abandoned by his siblings and children.
“When I left prison, I had nowhere to go. So I came here, to live with my daughter,” he said. He claimed his ex-wife still lives in Otjiwarongo, but they have no contact. After his daughter moved away, he took refuge at a fuel station and eventually arrived at the 'stoep.' He didn't elaborate on a job he used to have and how he lost it.
He said people from all walks of life have stayed on the platform over the years, some staying longer, like a friend Caroline who he claims has lived with him for between six and seven years.
Carpenters, security guards, painters, builders and others have found temporary shelter under the roof of the market platform, he said.
Young and lost
Sisters Jessica Johannes (23) and Ndina Johannes (21), both said they had moved to the informal shelter due to family problems. They told Namibian Sun that their parents are both deceased and that due to being treated badly by relatives, they decided to move to the platform.
Ndina Johannes's three-year-old son has stayed with her on the platform for the past two months. She has two more children, aged five and four.
She said the inhabitants at the platform regularly change, as each day people leave or arrive from nearby farms, northern Namibia, central Namibia or even across the border.
She does not have employment and describes her life as tough. “Right now I have nothing to eat, so we just have to wait for someone to give us food.”
Her sister Jessica noted that they don't “have much hope” for a better future, but take it day to day, hoping to get small jobs, earn a little money and survive another day.
“I admit that my actions were unlawful… I humble myself and seek that the court be merciful in meting out appropriate justice In this case,” Kapepu pleaded.
The accused, in a written plea explaining the events that led to the death of his girlfriend, read on his behalf by his lawyer, Miese Tjituri, said on that fateful day, he consumed liquor with his friends and the deceased in the location.
Around midday, the couple decided to go back home. The deceased had prepared a mat to sleep on with their son.
Kapepu said he had fetched water for the deceased who had said that she wanted to take a bath. While she was bathing, she told Kapepu that she wanted to go back to the location to continue drinking. A heated quarrel ensued and Kapepu had argued that couples needed to spend time together as a family after drinking for two days in a row.
“During this quarrel the deceased insulted me and this had become a habit for her although I warned her not to disrespect me in this way,” he stated.
According to Kapepu, he hit his girlfriend three times with the backside of an axe on her head and she fell on the ground and bled to death.
“I confirm that I pleaded guilty on my own free will. Nobody has influenced me whatsoever to plead guilty. I am fully aware of the consequences of this plea. I can be convicted on these charges to which I have pleaded guilty without the state having to call witnesses or tender any evidence to the charges against me,” he said.
Kapepu also said he initially wanted to discipline his girlfriend with a sjambok but he could not find one in the house.
“I found an axe and ran towards the deceased. The deceased ran into the bedroom and picked up an object upon which I hit her with the backside of the axe once. I hit her again, twice on her head with the backside of the axe.”
“I take full responsibility for her death and for this I intend to file no justification for my action,” Kapepu emphasised his regret.
In another alleged murder of an intimate partner, the high court trial of a 25-year-old man, charged with killing his 19-year-old girlfriend by stabbing her at the Outjo State Hospital commenced in Windhoek yesterday.
Hendrick Nowoseb is accused of killing Wilhelmina Tsauses, injuring her severely on the evening of Saturday 6 December 2014 during an altercation, and then knifing her to death while she lay in a hospital bed during visiting hours the following day.
Nowoseb appeared before High Court Judge Naomi Shivute during a pre-trial conference for case management and the matter was postponed to 22 June for his State-funded defence lawyer, Natji Tjirare, to file a reply to the prosecution's questionnaire of pre-trial memorandum.
Deputy Prosecutor-General Antonia Verhoef provided Tjirare with the documentation in preparation of his client's defence.
According to the charge sheet, Nowoseb allegedly stabbed Tsauses three times – on her head, neck and left arm - around 23:00 at her family house in Etoshapoort in Outjo before fleeing the scene that Saturday.
Police arrived at the scene and took Tsauses to the Outjo State Hospital.
The following day, Sunday, at about 15:30, Nowoseb, armed with a butcher's knife, entered the hospital during visiting hours looking for Tsauses. When he found her, Nowoseb allegedly stabbed her in the chest. Nurses found the Tsauses bleeding from the fresh and deep wound in her chest. She died shortly after.
– Additional reporting by Nampa
A total of 42 154 babies under the age of one were registered during the last financial year in Namibia.
This comprises only 60% of all newly born babies in the country, while 60 854 people were registered late.
The Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, said at the launch of the e-birth registration an unregistered child does not exist legally and cannot exercise its rights and access important educational and social services.
“Register your child immediately after birth; it is the right of the child, and your responsibility as a parent to register him or her.”
The e-birth system will be piloted at Windhoek Central Hospital and Katutura State Hospital in June 2017. In July 2017 a team from the Technical Working Group will carry out the assessment at the Rundu and Eenhana state hospitals whereafter the system will be rolled out to all state hospitals depending on the availability of funds.
Iivula-Ithana said that while the government is working hard to roll out the system to all state hospitals countrywide, the private hospitals should also join this campaign by rolling out the e-birth notification systems in their respective facilities.
“I am pleased to note that Rhino Park Private Hospital has already approached our ministry to roll out the system in their hospital. We are currently working on a memorandum of understanding for the opening of a new birth registration office at Rhino Park Private Hospital in order to reduce the queues at our two current facilities at Katutura State Hospital and at Windhoek Central Hospital.”
According to her the high numbers of late registration of births is a major challenge towards reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which call for establishing legal identity for all, including birth registration, by 2030.
She said that in the past years the ministry has been spending more resources on mobile registration exercises countrywide, aimed at registering persons who due to various reasons could not be registered immediately after birth. The ministry, after realising these challenges engaged the health ministry in 2008 to open birth registration offices in hospitals in order to improve accessibility.
According to her this has improved the rate of birth registration considerably.
Iivula-Ithana said that the aim of the e-birth is to notify the National Population Registration System (NPRS) electronically, when a birth has occurred at a hospital, to secure the birth details of the child. The notification will be done immediately after birth by the nurse who facilitated the delivery of the baby. The e-birth system will ensure verification of the mother’s identity as it is linked to the NPRS, as well as improve data quality and production of vital statistics.
According to her such data are essential for planning and implementing development policies and programmes, particularly in health, education, housing, water and sanitation, employment, agriculture and industrial production.
The government is only relying on birth projections for the calculation of birth statistics and birth registration statistics. “Therefore the launch of this project is crucial because it will provide accurate and timely vital statistics to the government and developmental partners for planning and developmental purposes,” said Iivula-Ithana.
She added that without a birth certificate, children cannot enrol in school and are not eligible to receive child support/grants. Addressing inequities or protection of marginalised groups would not be possible in the absence of accurate population data. “When children have no legal proof of age and legal identity, they are more vulnerable to early marriage and other harmful practices, including child labour, illegal inter-country adoption, and recruitment into armed forces and groups or commercial sexual exploitation.” Iivula-Ithana said that a lack of birth certificates can also complicate the processes for repatriation of refugee children, as well as family tracing for children separated from their families.
She said that the ministry is working hard towards its goal to digitise all processes relating to civil registration and will continue striving to expand services, and thus ensure timely registration of all children.
The system is a first for Africa.
The SPYL held a Central Committee meeting last week Saturday at which it announced the candidates for the secretary and deputy secretary positions at its elective congress in August.
The SPYL meeting, which was headed by acting secretary Veikko Nekundi, also want Swapo acting president Hage Geingob to run unopposed for the ruling party's top position at the November congress.
The youth league has been deeply divided in its support for Geingob as party president.
National Youth Council executive chairperson Mandela Kapere was nominated for the secretary position along with Ephraim Nekongo and Mirjam Nghidipo.
Christine Haindaka, Mogale Karimbue and Immanuel Shikongo were nominated for the deputy secretary position.
Some members who boycotted the CC meeting have indicated that they will approach the High Court to revoke all resolutions taken at the CC meeting.
The group's spokesperson, Job Amupanda, said in a statement that procedures were not followed, thus making the meeting unconstitutional.
“The recent development of the Nekundi cabal has not only sent shockwaves to members of SPYL but also the entire Namibian nation. The recently convened illegal Central Committee meeting, with armed police officers in attendance, is the latest and last indication that SPYL has really degenerated,” he said.
“Swapo is supposed to be a democratic party. To engage in undemocratic activities as what happened at the recent Central Committee meeting is a slap in the face of the basic tenets of democracy. This aspect of nominations has for the first time since independence left out regions and other structures. This is unusual leaving degeneration, insecurity and madness as the only fitting explanation.”
Among those challenging the outcome of Saturday's meeting are youth leaders loyal to the influential Elijah Ngurare.
In fact, Ngurare has also been outspoken about the Saturday meeting, which he termed illegal. Paulus Mbangu, Sioni Iikela, Imms Nashinge, Romona Hidileko, Amupanda and Josophat Hiwana are some of the members challenging the matter in court.
“Following various attempts to amicably solve the constitutional quagmire and the realisation that the imposed leadership remains committed to illegal things and that they are supported by those in charge of the party, we have resolved to rely on our independent judiciary to restore sanity in the minds of those in charge. We have convened a team of junior and senior lawyers, including advocates, from Namibia and elsewhere.
“The team has been hard at work and is in the process of finalising and settling founding documents,” Amupanda said yesterday.
Earlier this week SPYL secretary for labour and justice Sydney Ganeb also questioned the legality of Saturday's meeting, requesting Nekundi to reverse a decision to nominate candidates for the secretary and deputy secretary positions.
The acting CEO of the Disability Council, Meliherius Haukambe, told Namibian Sun that he did not want to comment on the situation before meeting with Air Namibia.
He said he would request a meeting with Air Namibia today.
The airline, in a statement on Wednesday, said its domestic routes are serviced by the Embraer RJ 135 (ERJ) with a seat capacity of 37 passengers.
However, the ERJ aircraft does not make provision for wheelchair-bound passengers, due to its narrow size, design and weight restrictions.
The aircraft's staircase allows only one passenger at a time to board, hence the requirement that every passenger boarding this aircraft is required to climb the staircase without assistance.
The machinery used to lift disabled passengers onto the aircraft is only compatible with larger aircraft, such as the A319-100 and A330-100, used on regional and international routes respectively.
According to Air Namibia due to the size of the aircraft, it is only operated with one safety officer on board. In case of emergencies all passengers are required to be able to aid themselves during evacuation, in case the safety officer is rendered incapacitated.
“It is our future aspirations to operate bigger aircraft on our domestic routes, which can accommodate passengers on wheelchairs.
“Unfortunately, these aircraft cannot operate at some of our airports, due to limited equipment and infrastructure, domestic airports cannot accommodate bigger aircraft at the moment.”
Air Namibia on Wednesday also issued an apology to the mother of a 16-year old girl, whom the airline staff at Walvis Bay airport had refused to board last Thursday.
The apology came after the Walvis Bay resident Anastasia Helao expressed anger and grief in a newspaper report on Wednesday over the mistreatment of her wheelchair-bound daughter, Victoria Martin.
Helao said her daughter missed a doctor's appointment in Windhoek as they had to travel by road due to her disability, sustained in a car accident in 2015.
She said she had paid around N$5 000 for two air tickets last Wednesday, only to be turned away at the check-in point on Thursday morning when they were about to board the plane.
According to her the airport manager said they did not allow people in wheelchairs to get onto planes.
The manager told her that they had made a mistake in allowing her to book for the flight in the first place.
While Shoprite management indicated that they would respond soon on the matter, the Trust's chairperson, Herbert Jauch, said the exploitation of workers had been continuing for a long time and should end.
The Trust said for almost two years, over 100 workers at Shoprite in Windhoek had been facing disciplinary charges for taking part in a strike in 2015, adding that Shoprite had already dismissed 176 workers at Rundu and Gobabis. According to the union, the company continues to violate workers' rights and this must be stopped.
“The Economic and Social Justice Trust demands that Shoprite drop all disciplinary charges against its workers and that the company starts negotiating with its workers in good faith. Workers' rights and fairness must be safeguarded as we cannot allow the mistreatment of workers to continue,” Jauch said.
He said the reason why the unions representing Shoprite employees were not succeeding forcing the company to comply with Namibian laws was because they were divided.
“For the past four years, there were three different trade unions operating at Shoprite; none of them represent an outright majority. Shoprite seized the opportunity provided by a divided labour movement to side-line the unions' altogether… Shoprite has continuously violated workers' rights and used the rivalry among trade unions to its own advantage,” Jauch charged.
Jauch said an average employee at Shoprite earned less than N$2 500, which he said was “totally unacceptable” considering the fact that the company last year “declared a profit of about N$130 billion of which N$50 million was diverted to then chief executive officer Whitey Basson as a bonus”.
“The average worker at Shoprite still earns about N$2 500 per month or less. As they receive no transport allowance, the workers spend between N$480 and N$960 per month on transport, depending on where they live. They also have to pay rent, on average N$1 000, even for a shack in a backyard. This is before they can even think of food, water and gas for cooking,” Jauch argued.
Jauch said the disciplinary action route Shoprite has taken was also a costly exercise for the company. He claimed it had cost Shoprite about N$3.3 million over a period of 51 days of hearings – excluding venue rentals and legal fees.
When contacted, Shoprite Namibia's human resources officer, Karen Smith, said she was aware of the statement issued by the Trust and they would respond soon.
The Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) has called on Shoprite employees countrywide to join the union in order for their concerns to be heard.
Nafau concurred with Jauch that the disciplinary cases must be called off.
The workers in 2015 were charged with violating several company regulations - participating in an unlawful strike, gross insubordination, absence from duty without authorisation, incitement and the organisation of an unlawful strike, assault, destruction of private property and interfering with a company investigation.
Cabinet secretary George Simataa issued Shafudah with a final written warning for her failure to attend Technical Committee meetings as required by her position as permanent secretary.
Giving her side of the matter, Shafudah said: “I want to place it on record that I have attended Technical Committee meetings to which I have been invited. I also have it on record that where I did not attend, an apology was extended.”
According to her, she also informed the Technical Committee by way of writing and verbally that the stated currency of the tender must be Namibia dollar.
“Regarding the disputed issue of currency fluctuations on the tender, I have maintained the position that the tender was awarded in Namibian dollars. I presented this position to the Technical Committee in writing,” she said.
“I have also verbally and in writing stated this position on various occasions to the relevant authorities. This consistent position that I have always maintained has also been acknowledged as legally correct in the purported 'final written warning'.”
Shafudah said she was prepared to furnish proof of her attendance to whoever had permission to request such information.
“I have given the correct advice on the matter to the Technical Committee and to the relevant authorities. I am also prepared to provide evidence to any platform or persons with a mandate to such evidence.”
Denying the allegations against her, she said: “I reject any opinion or insinuation from any quarter that describes me as an official who is incompetent and was negligent in the performance of duties as PS of the Ministry of Finance.”
According to Simataa, Shafudah did not attend Technical Committee meetings pertaining to the fuel storage tender.
DTA secretary for finance Nico Smit came out strongly and criticised the government for not imposing harsher penalties on Shafudah.
“If negligence and recklessness in the performance of your duties results in the government losing N$1.7 billion and this only leads to a temporary 12-month 'final' warning, then the question becomes, what level of negligence is required to have someone removed from their position,” Smit said earlier this week.
The Construction Industries Federation (CIF) says unless new tenders are issued by June, up to 63% of its members face closure.
The CIF has also indicated that between 1 September 2016 and 31 March 2017, 30% of the workforce in the construction sector was retrenched.
The situation has become so critical that the CIF has implored the government to intervene by issuing new tenders.
According to CIF general manager Bärbel Kirchner, the repercussions have been so severe that even well-established construction firms face closure.
This sentiment is echoed by Namibia Construction director Karl Hans Junior, who says his firm witnessed a sharp decline in its workload, with an observable 20% reduction in the 2015/16 financial year and a sharp reduction of 40% anticipated for the 2016/17 financial year.
“It is generally understood that a consolidation of the national budget and prioritisation of public expenditure was necessary for the long-term gains of our economy, however, our appeal is that the budget considered for capital projects would be revisited and that related reductions will be minimised.
“We know that our government needed to take measures in the long-term interest of our country,” Kirchner said following an announcement in September 2016 that the ministry of finance would freeze all new tenders.
Asking for more, she said: “Our industry, which we believe can trigger a multiplier effect and stimulate also other sectors of our economy, ideally should receive a slice big enough to make a meaningful contribution to Namibia's economy and to secure employment.”
She said that contractors were owed approximately N$1.8 billion and sought clarity on government projects that were approved in the construction sector for the current financial year.
“Businesses operating in the construction sector need to know when the additional funds of N$1.8 billion for services delivered to the public sector will become available and what the proposed share will be for the construction sector.”
“There is also great uncertainty about which projects, that already had been awarded, will proceed and which projects will be cancelled. The sector needs to be provided with a list of all projects that will be advertised and for which tenders will be requested in 2017/18.”
Calle to the rescue
Finance minister Calle Schlettwein has moved to allay fears, saying that the government will be using a loan facility secured from the African Development Bank to spur infrastructure projects. He also indicated that public-private-partnership arrangements would be sought.
Speaking to Namibian Sun briefly, he said: “We shall implement the budget and that includes the development provisions. Secondly, we are intending to get public-private partnerships going and thirdly, with the financing facility from the African Development Bank (AfDB), some infrastructure projects could be started.”
The ministry of finance recently secured a loan facility with the AfDB and will receive N$3 billion for the 2017/18 financial year. The AfDB, in consultation with ministries, government offices and agencies, will study projects that would require financing, Schlettwein said in a recent statement.
The latest research by stockbroking firm IJG Securities has shown that construction activities have slowed down considerably.
“A total of 143 building plans were approved in April with a value of N$112.9 million, while nine buildings with a value of N$26.7 million were completed.
“Thus far, 2017 is off to a poor start; year-to-date 566 plans were approved while 76 were completed, the lowest number of plans approved and completed in the last 20 years.”
On the commercial property front, its report points to equally lacklustre growth in the construction sector.
The number of commercial units approved in 2017 amounted to 13, valued at N$50.1 million, according to IJG.
“This compares to 31 units valued at N$263.4 million approved over the same period in 2016.
“On average, over the last 20 years, 19.2 commercial units valued at N$157.6 million were approved in the first four months of the year, which would indicate that this is an especially slow year thus far.”
Namibia Construction's Hans is also not too bullish.
“Our turnover has gone down but we are still busy. It is problematic but we do not have to close our doors. The whole industry is taking a knock.”
Blue-collar workers affected
Blue-collar workers have felt the pinch of government's decision to freeze all tenders while non-payment by the ministry of finance has not helped matters much. This is according to Metal and Allied Workers Union (MANWU) secretary-general Justina Jonas, who spoke to Namibian Sun on industry matters yesterday. “We all know that this is a serious problem for the construction sector. We have been engaging government to ensure to ensure that the retrenchments are not as severe,” said Jonas of her union's efforts at finding a harmonious solution.
“Many subcontractors are not working because government has not paid. It is a bit difficult for them to hold on. We have embarked on consultations with the Roads Authority and will through our mother body, the National Union of Namibian Workers, seek consultations with the Ministry of Finance.
“The RA has been positive and has helped us on certain issues that I cannot reveal. The NUNW is arranging that consultation and we are just waiting for that arrangement.”
Jonas also said that blue-collar workers were hit hard by the decision to freeze government tenders. “Unfortunately this has happened,” said Jonas. “Our national leaders must consult the people affected. The working class has been betrayed and what has happened is not something that that must be repeated. These are people that are exposed to so much.”
The family has lodged a complaint with the Health Professions Council of Namibia (HPCNA) seeking answers as to how the hospital could have admitted Jonas Nehemia without doing an X-ray examination.
Nehemia's son, Silas Emvula, said his father, who is the village headman of Oshiku Shomunkete, fell while gathering livestock on the afternoon of 7 November 2010. He was taken to Oshikuku hospital the following day, where he spent five months.
“He was admitted the day he arrived in the hospital. They only dressed him and nothing else was done. And so he spent five months in that hospital. He did not move his body at all until he was eventually discharged in in April 2011,” said Emvula.
Emvula said the staff of Oshikuku hospital could not provide him with any medical diagnosis or tell him what had happened to Nehemia when they discharged him.
Nehemia returned home, but he was confined to his bed and could not move on his own anymore. Two months later, Nehemia took him to the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital where X-rays were taken.
“We were shocked to hear that the X-ray showed his hip on his right side was dislocated and this is what caused his disability. They told us that it was too late to put it back since it had been dislocated for seven months.
“They said there was nothing they could do since he was Oshikuku's patient and they did not want to take any risks. They only sent him for physiotherapy to be done at Oshikuku hospital,” Emvula continued.
He said that they took his father back to Oshikuku, but nothing was done and his father has been disabled for six years now.
The acting chief medical officer at Oshikuku hospital, Dr Samwel Awe, said they could not locate the patient's record.
“I cannot say anything now since we could not get his medical report in our records,” he said.
Nehemia' 75-year-old wife, Susana Matheus, said it hurt her deeply that Nehemia went to the hospital to get help and came back disabled.
“We had hope at the beginning, but now we have given up. My husband cannot move by himself anymore. I also have to stay home all the time to take care of him.”
Sylvia Hamata of the HPCNA could not provide any further information on how far the investigation has progressed. The Council informed the family that they were waiting for answers from the practitioner at Oshikuku hospital.
The parcel was destined for Malaysia via Johannesburg.
The horns were concealed in a parcel from a local courier company, which contained coffee boxes.
This was confirmed to Namibian Sun by the Inspector General of the Namibian Police, Sebastian Ndeitunga, who said that the modus operandi was similar to previous incidents in which rhino horns had been smuggled out of the country.
A poaching syndicate is suspected to be operating in Namibia and sending parcels to China, declaring the contents as “coffee”.
Earlier this year 12 pieces of rhino horn declared as “coffee” from Namibia were seized by Hong Kong customs officers. The rhino horn, weighing about 6.6kg and with an estimated value of about $1.3 million, was found in two express air parcels at Hong Kong International Airport on March 22.
In another incident, three Chinese nationals were arrested last year December at a police checkpoint at Kappsfarm with several rhino horn products concealed in empty coffee tins.
Ndeitunga said the syndicate was changing its tactics and using different routes.
“We are still facing serious challenges with regards to poaching,” he said.
On Tuesday another poached rhino carcass was discovered at Kliprivier in the Grootberg area of the Kunene Region. The rhino had been shot and its horns were discovered at the scene.
Ndeitunga said there was another incident of rhino poaching in the Erongo Region this week. Further details are not available at this stage.
Ndeitunga issued a stern warning to courier companies that are being used in these types of crimes.
He said their businesses were being tarnished and they should work on identifying these crimes.
Ndeitunga said that very soon criminals would be using coffins to smuggle drugs, ivory and rhino horns out of the country if they were not stopped.
“We have to be vigilant and suspect any suspicious behaviour. It should be the task of everybody, whether you are working in the hotel, telecommunications, you should report suspicious behaviour to the police.”
Ndeitunga also congratulated the officers at Eros Airport for being vigilant in detecting the rhino horns in the parcel.
“I called them in to congratulate them and you can see that they have a love for their job. We are proud of them and all officers should follow their example.”
Investigations are continuing.
Former President Sam Nujoma's bodyguard Nepando Amupanda is the acting OTA Secretary but was not at the meeting.
Former President Sam Nujoma's bodyguard Nepando Amupanda is the acting OTA Secretary but was not at the meeting.
At a press conference last Thursday, Davies said despite other commitments, the players are committed to develop the team.
Davies also informed journalists of the strategic long-term plan drawn up for the players en route to the World Cup qualifiers.
According to Davies, the Namibia Rugby Union is working hard to implement its High Performance Plan to reach its 2019 goals.
Namibia is in a tough group that will face Spain, Russia and Italy at the Nations Cup to be held in Uruguay next month.
Davies says Namibia has the potential to win the tournament if they focus on the plan.
The High Performance Plan includes four strategic focus areas, which are; a pathway from club rugby to international rugby; growing the game locally; setting up a national academy, and forming partnerships locally and internally to grow the game.
Its strategic outcomes include bridging the gap between club rugby and Currie Cup rugby; increasing the number of players; implementing a fully-functional national academy, building local capacity and knowledge, and promoting skills transfer.
He also said the union hopes to accomplish its goals by incorporating school rugby players, identifying potential players at an early age and by supporting its players.
He says the union is also looking for talented players from the northern regions of the country.
Davies says the union has been receiving assistance from Wales. “We have a video analyst from Wales who is sharing knowledge with a Namibian analyst.
“He is [assisting with] building capacity, sharing knowledge and the transfer of skills and after the next World Cup, Namibia will hopefully have its own management team,” Davies said.
“We do this so that as a team and as a country we achieve pride and identity, in order to win a game we need to live and stick to the standards we are implementing,” he says.
Regarding next month's Nations Cup in Uruguay, he said they tried to give the local-based players more exposure, “We have 16 overseas players and 12 home-based players in the squad.
We are trying to give young players an opportunity and we want to create a pool of players. We are trying to balance the team and give supporters a great rugby experience”.
Besides the Nations Cup, the national team will also play five matches in the Africa Cup against Senegal, Zimbabwe and Kenya at home, and Tunisia and Uganda in matches outside Namibia.
Former five-weight world champion Mayweather retired unbeaten in September 2015 after 49 bouts. Ireland's UFC lightweight champion McGregor, 28, claims he has signed his half of the deal to fight the American.
“I think the fight will happen” said 40-year-old Mayweather. “We have to give the people what they want to see.”
Mayweather, who was speaking after his fighter Gervonta Davis beat Liam Walsh in London, said he would speak to his advisor Al Haymon and establish their next move.
“There's no rush,” he added. “The only fight that makes sense to me is the McGregor fight. I guess I have one more obstacle that I have to get over.
“When we make a move it's going to be huge. When Floyd Mayweather fights its history.”