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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

older | 1 | .... | 371 | 372 | (Page 373) | 374 | 375 | .... | 1152 | newer

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    Enough rhetoric, time for actionEnough rhetoric, time for action For any government to succeed there must a well-articulated plan, strategically designed to support a long term vision.

    Our government adopted Vision 2030 - the country's blueprint development programme - in 2004.

    Former president Sam Nujoma called this document at its launch, a perception of the future, which aims to improve the quality of life of the people of Namibia to the level of their counterparts in the developed world.

    We are now a mere 13 years away and many have already questioned the scale of our ambitions as a nation.

    Is Vision 2030 really attainable?

    This has been the question on everyone's lips.

    Yesterday President Hage Geingob launched the country's fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) at State House, which is another ambitious strategy designed to generate capital and initiatives that will transform our economy towards Vision 2030.

    The N$164 billion programme has set itself the target of creating 250 000 jobs in the next five years.

    As a nation we are already struggling to create sustainable jobs, with statistics released last week by the Namibia Statistics Agency indicating that the unemployment rate grew by 6% to 34%.

    This shows that almost 350 000 Namibians are unemployed.

    Our struggling economy has seen thousands of Namibians sent back onto the streets as job opportunities dry up.

    The scale of this failure is enormous and this is compounded by the high levels of inequality already being experienced in our country.

    We cannot talk about shared prosperity if we continue to pay so little attention to the poor and downtrodden of society.

    Government is failing to fix education, sport, public healthcare and corruption challenges, among others. We cannot expect Namibians to share the vision of their country if they continue to feel left out.

    It is time to keep away from development rhetoric without meaningful action.

    The government must take a seriously review its priorities, including budgetary expectations of key areas if it really wants to succeed this time around.

    It should no longer be business as usual.

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    Law enforcement officers face graft chargesLaw enforcement officers face graft charges In a bizarre twist of events a police officer and immigration official, as well as an ordinary citizen, are facing charges of corruption after they allegedly attempted to extort money from a Zimbabwean refugee who languished in police custody at the Katutura police station.

    Payments, allegedly amounting to N$55 000, were made.

    The ordinary citizen, Elifas Hafeni Nghishakwema, the police woman Hileni Ellen Nambungu and the immigration official, Martha Ndameshime, were arrested in a police trap in November 2012 after they were allegedly paid N$1 000 by the Zimbabwean inmate Joseph Shingende, to ensure his release from custody.

    The trio are facing four counts of corruptly accepting gratification in terms of the Anti-Corruption Act.

    The amount is said to total N$55 000 but details are not yet available.

    Shingende, after his arrest at the end of November 2012, spent two months in custody but was never formally charged. It was alleged that he is an illegal immigrant as he did not have refugee status, but later was said that he had two different names. He was discharged at the Katutura Magistrate's Court in January 2013.

    Shingende on Monday testified that he managed Joe's Pest Control, a business he said was owned by his brother and that Nghishakwema, was working under him as a driver.

    He added that the accused was a brother of his girlfriend and that he was employed by the owner of the company but paid through him.

    He denied that he called the Nghishakwema to the Katutura police station where he was in custody to pay him his outstanding salary.

    He allegedly offered him N$990 instead of the N$1 000.

    Lawyer Titus Ipumbu, appearing on behalf of Nghishakwema alleged that his client was working for the witness but was not paid during the time the witness was in custody from close to end of November 2012 to January 2013.

    He said his client came to the Katutura police station in November 2012 when they were arrested on contravention of the provisions of the Anti-Corruption Act.

    The trial continues before Magistrate Gerrit von Pletzen.

    Joseph Andreas is the state prosecutor in the matter while the other two defence lawyers are James Diederich and Miese Tjituri.



    FRED GOEIEMAN

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    Parents should be held accountableParents should be held accountable The Namibian police have expressed concern over the high number of rapes involving minors and other incidents in which children die due to the apparent negligence of their parents.

    The spokesperson of the police, Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi, said that parents should also be held responsible and be prosecuted for child neglect.

    He pointed out that reports of rape cases against children and minors are rising, but also added that reports of preventable deaths of children have also become a concern.

    He referred specifically to an incident where a minor fell into a bucket of water and said that the parents should be held accountable for this, adding that this water bucket should have been covered.

    Referring to another incident, he said the parents left the child in the care of a cattle herder who raped the child. Kanguatjivi pointed out that the herder who was from Angola fled from Namibia. According to him, this makes it even more difficult for the police to find the culprit.

    He stressed that parents must leave their children in the care of people who are trustworthy.

    “When you are a parent you must be responsible and look after your children. Somehow, somewhere, someone is going to be charged with neglect,” he said.

    An overview of all newly opened cases of rape between 7 April and 28 May, as reported by the police in their crime reports, shows that out of a total of 18 rape charges, 13 were linked to minors, including children below the age of 12.

    Namibian Sun reported this week that more than 70% of new rape cases opened since 7 April involve children while experts believe the actual number of rape cases is much higher and continues to rise.

    Reports of violence between minors are also on the rise, with police last weekend briefly arresting two boys aged 11 and 12, after they allegedly tried to sexually assault their 10-year-old friend with an empty cool drink bottle in Walvis Bay.



    ELLANIE SMIT

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  • 05/31/17--16:00: Inflation high but stable
  • Inflation high but stableInflation high but stableOutlook is still unpredictable While the cost of food remains high, inflation has stabilised for the moment but the outlook is still dependent on external factors. First Capital has released its food price index for April 2017. By all accounts, food inflation eased up since 2016 with the prices increasing by 7.6% in April 2017 compared to the price 12 months ago when food inflation was in the double digits.

    “As of April 2017, an average food basket needed to feed a Namibian family costed N$1 147 relative to the cost of N$1 066 a year ago,” First Capital said.

    However, the cost is relative to where the items are being purchased. For a food basket in Windhoek costing around N$1 054, the self-same basket will cost N$1 264 in Katima Mulilo. First Capital is of the view that the higher costs in the northern parts of the country can be ascribed to the cost of transport to these areas.

    “Namibia remains a net importer in food commodities. Despite the fact that we are high consumers of potatoes, Namibia only produces a quarter of the total demand for potatoes, while 75% of the total demand is imported. Very few bananas are also produced in Namibia while nearly all bananas consumed are imported. Similarly Namibia imports 93% of the total demand for oranges.”

    This exacerbates the price as again, the high cost of transport must be included in the retail price.

    The cost of cereals will continue to decline says First Capital as production increased in the 2016/17 season however, much of these are imported into Namibia.

    “Given that Asian countries dominate the supply side of rice in the world with top nine biggest producers of rice being Asian countries, domestic prices will remain sensitive not only to global supply but also to the rand exchange rate with the US dollar,” First Capital reported.

    The investment firm believes that food price inflation will remain below 7% for the remainder of the year, driven also by the price relief offered by Namib Mills and the declining global prices.

    “Inflation will remain lowest for staple foods like maize meal, macaroni, spaghetti and rice. Milk prices will not assume a positive trend this year as we anticipate production to further increase on account of improving livestock conditions.”

    However, meat prices are set to remain high for at least another year as farmers are restocking their herds and supply is currently limited at abattoirs.

    But the outlook is not all rosy. The risk to inflation remains as further downgrades loom for the South African rand. “Should all three rating agencies effect their junk rating on South Africa, investors will take it as an alarm of increased risk to invest in such an economy. At the receiving end will be the rand that will likely fall.”

    Regarding oil prices, there should not be, a material hike for the rest of the year, First Capital says.

    “Though adherence can be effective among OPEC producers, the USA Shale and other non OPEC producers will continue chasing a slight improvement in the price of oil by increasing supply which will offset the effort of the output deal by OPEC. Taking these oil market dynamics into consideration, we are certain that fuel price will not see a material hike this year.”

    STAFF REPORTER

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    Kuisebmond buckles under firesKuisebmond buckles under fires Firemen who rushed to the scene when another shack fire broke out in Kristiaan Sand Street in Tutaleni informal settlement in Kuisebmond on Monday, could not do much to save the shacks because the fire hydrants in that street were malfunctioning.

    Seventeen shacks were destroyed and between 35 and 50 people were left homeless. Walvis Bay fire chief, Dennis Basson said so far this year, more than 40 shacks were destroyed by fire in Kuisebmond. “Efforts to contain the blaze were considerably hampered by damaged and non-functioning fire hydrants in the vicinity. We moved to other streets to fill up the tanks also and requested Namport to assists us with their fire-fighting engine. We could have saved some of the shacks if only we had quicker access to water,” said Basson.

    Erongo Deputy Commissioner Erastus Iikuyu said the fire broke out between 08:30 and 10:00.

    “The owner of the shack where we suspect the fire started was at work. Two children aged three and one and half years left in the custody of their father, were apparently in the shack. Both children escaped unharmed. No one else was injured but property was extensively damaged by the flames and investigations continue,” Iikuyu said.

    Basson is appealing to residents to take ownership and good care of equipment used to douse fires in their areas and said they should reprimand and report residents who damage fire hydrants.

    “It is common knowledge that unscrupulous individuals remove parts of the hydrants, especially the heads, and sell them as scrap metal. This is a criminal offence. It costs a lot of money to replace the stolen or damaged parts and also puts lives at risk.”

    Basson also said that the cause of the fire is yet to be established. He said investigations are hampered by the lack of cooperation from members of the community who chose to withhold the information for fear of being victimised.

    In another incident, a fire completely destroyed a grader belonging to a company that is doing earthworks for the construction of warehouses at a site on the outskirts of Walvis Bay on Saturday.

    The operator escaped the flames and did not suffer any injuries. A plume of smoke emanating from the burning machine could be seen from as far as the harbour town.

    Namibia Airports Company (NAC) communications manager Nankelo Katjiuongua also confirmed that a storage facility at Walvis Bay International Airport with old electrical equipment caught fire on Sunday afternoon.

    “The airport manager reported that they observed smoke emanating from the storage facility and a small explosion followed. There were no casualties and flights were not interrupted. The emergency services on standby at the airport responded and subdued the flames within 20 minutes. The police visited the scene. No foul play or malicious intent is suspected.”

    Another fire broke out on Sunday which destroyed 17 shacks and left approximately 30 people homeless in Amitist Street in Tutaleni.

    DTA secretary-general, Manuel Ngaringombe, who visited the site suggested the introduction of a temporary municipal by-law to regulate and limit the number of shacks that can be built on properties.

    “We need to move beyond just talking and start doing. A temporal municipal by-law that regulates the number of shacks per premises will avoid and prevent massive damages whenever fires occur. Officials from the community development and the land and property departments at the municipality should start monitoring the construction of shacks and ensure that structures have ample space between them in order to curb fires from spreading and minimise the damage. They must also conduct regular visits at properties where backyard shacks are located and educate landlords and homeowners on how to prevent fires.”

    Information provided by the Erongo Rural Constituency office in Walvis Bay indicates that fires destroyed 141 shacks and left more than 300 people including 48 children homeless at the harbour town from 18 November 2016 to 14 January this year.



    OTIS FINCK

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  • 05/31/17--16:00: SOE suspensions crippling
  • SOE suspensions cripplingSOE suspensions cripplingOpposition says there is no benefit to parastatals The DTA is of the view that suspensions at parastatals have a compounding effect on their already weak financial performance. The DTA has expressed concern over the regular suspensions of top executives at SOEs saying it is financially crippling for these companies that already rely on government bailouts for their survival.

    DTA secretary-general Manuel Ngaringombe said the boards of directors at SOEs must either intervene sooner or the Ministry of Public Enterprises must urgently devise a strategy to overcome this governance problem.

    “The Namibian economy can simply not afford to carry the financial burden of an SOE sector governed through golden handshakes.”

    Ngaringombe added said that over the past year not a month has gone by in which one or other SOE has not seen a suspended CEO or other senior executives.

    According to him, almost all of these suspensions are done with full pay under the guise that keeping them in their positions could hinder investigations.

    The suspensions at TransNamib and Meatco are just two of the more recent examples, he said.

    Ngaringombe said the problem is that the public never hears what happens to these investigations and in the majority of the cases these officials end up either returning to their positions or agreeing to multimillion-dollar release packages and being given a “golden handshake”.

    “This is not even taking into account that they were suspended with full pay and benefits while someone else may have been brought in to perform their duties. Meaning effectively during the period of suspension two people are paid to do the same job.”

    He said that the state of affairs at SOEs has now become common practice and continues to hinder service delivery while at the same time it results in the loss of millions of dollars – both those lost during the alleged corrupt activities and that which is lost during release payments.

    “It is puzzling that SOEs with expensively assembled boards have been permitted to continue with this economically crippling practice despite the establishment of a ministry which we were lead to believe would improve the governance and efficiency of SOEs.”

    According to him this all comes at a time when the Namibian economy cannot afford to carry such heavy losses and the periods of low productivity, which accompany suspensions.

    “Why is it that boards only seem to intervene once matters have reached the stage where suspension and termination are the only options available to them? The mistake we make is appointing the same people to every single board in the country, even where incidences of fraud and corruption took place under their watch whilst they served on other boards.”

    Ngaringombe said that the role of the boards of directors has either not been cleared up or SOE boards are simply failing to perform their supervisory functions. “And yet the same individuals keep being rotated from board to board.”

















    ELLANIE SMIT

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  • 05/31/17--16:00: Nudo to celebrate Riruako
  • Nudo to celebrate RiruakoNudo to celebrate Riruako Joseph Kauandenge, Nudo presidential spokesperson, says the Namibian government has not given due recognition to the late Ovaherero paramount chief, Kuaima Riruako for the key role he played before and after Namibia's independence.

    Kauandenge's sentiments were expressed in a recent press release.

    According to Kauandenge, nothing significant has been done three years after his passing.

    “It is however regrettable that in the three years since he passed away, the late paramount chief has not yet been sufficiently recognised as a key role player both prior to our independence and after our independence,” said Kauandenge.

    He demanded that the government rename Shanghai Street in Katutura after the late Riruako as soon as possible.

    “It is therefore befitting to still demand while we commemorate his death that Shanghai Street in Katutura be renamed after him as soon as possible so that his name and legacy does not fade away and so that future generations can be reminded of his contribution to Namibia and his subjects,” said Kauandenge.

    He also said the late Riruako should be regarded as the rightful father of African genocide and reparations. “Indeed if there is any honour that must be given to him, he must be named the Father of African Genocide and Reparations, as shortly after his death many other Africans started following in his footsteps to demand reparations from their former colonisers. Thanks to the efforts of our departed leader,” Kauandenge said.

    He also announced that Nudo plans to commemorate the death of Riruako on Friday, 2 June.

    The celebrations are slated to take place on Friday at Commando Hall in Katutura.

    “This day will be organised in collaboration with the Ovaherero Traditional Authority under Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro and the Genocide Foundation under Utjiua Muinjangue and the Red flag and the late paramount chief's family,” said Kauandenge.

    Shona Ngava

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    Swapo to investigate unruly youthSwapo to investigate unruly youthWarns of destruction of party The organ of the ruling party has formed a committee to look into the matter for amicable solutions. Swapo's Politburo has appointed a committee to find “an amicable and peaceful solution” to the uproarious youth league district conference at Grootfontein earlier this month over a jostling for positions for candidacies before the party's congress later this year.

    It stated that its youth members should “conduct themselves as true Swapo Party members and not as agents of destruction of the party”

    The committee is to be chaired by the secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba. Others to join him on this peace crusade include party heavyweights like Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, Theo-Ben Gurirab, Ben Amadhila, and Erkki Nghimtina.

    “These are very serious members who have a lot of kilometres in the party. They will not allow the party to be destroyed. We will talk to any youth concerned with the welfare of the party,” said Mbumba.

    The youth wing fall-out occurred at the hometown of President Hage Geingob.

    In preparation of the congress the Politburo at Monday evening's meeting urged all party wings and regional structures to do timely completion of renewal of mandates of leaders in the regions.

    It also directed all sub-committees of the national preparatory committee of the sixth congress to start with their respective assignments “without delay”.



    Irked by crime

    The Politburo gave special tribute to the 92-year-old veteran Swapo member, Leonard Nangolo Mukwiilongo, who was murdered by thugs in his house in the Omusati Region on 25 May. It said it is “perplexed by the cause of his death”.

    “Swapo condemns in strongest terms the barbaric actions of criminals who are busy disturbing the peace within the country,” the Politburo declared and made an appeal to all relevant government institutions to ensure that the culprits are brought to book.

    “This crime against an elder is an indication of a society whose thinking, its mentality, is very hard to describe,” said Mbumba.

    When nudged on what type of crime he was referring to, Mbumba said crime includes poaching, trafficking and corruption.

    “Rape, injury to physical body is destroying part of the nation. Poaching; whose property is that? It is the property of all of us as well as the national economic integrity. It is economic sabotage. You cannot kill an elephant for a meal. All types of crime must be condemned,” said Mbumba.

    He said white-collar crime such as fraud is “the destroying the basis on which all of us exist”. Such crime, he said, includes the inflation of tender prices, bribery, and civil servants moonlighting on the job.

    Mbumba added that those caught red-handed then “run to court” to avert punishment.

    “The courts must understand that they face tough decisions,” Mbumba said.

    CATHERINE SASMAN

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    Tit-for-tat at Helao Nafidi council meetingTit-for-tat at Helao Nafidi council meeting Helao Nafidi mayor Eliaser Nghipangelwa and Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) councillor Vilho Shimuoshili on Tuesday during the monthly council meeting clashed over a statement made in a financial report.

    The conflict came after Nghipangelwa submitted and delivered his mayoral report on the financial report of the 2014/15 financial year as required by law, where Shimuoshili expressed dissatisfaction over one of the queries indicated in the report.

    In the report under distribution losses, Helao Nafidi during the 2014/15 financial year recorded a distribution loss of 32 580 cubic metres of water equivalent to 5% of what was purchased and sold, which the council's financial department described as a reasonable loss.

    Shimuoshili however objected to the statement of the 5% loss, describing it as an insult from the council to inform the public that the loss was reasonable.

    He said the council should apologise to the people.

    “Our clients are working hard to always pay for their water debts and yet we are telling them that a loss recorded by council is reasonable. This is an insult to the people, you cannot say that,” Shimuoshili said.

    During their tit-for-tat, Nghipangelwa said he believes the distribution loss of 5% is a reasonable loss and not an insult as Shimuoshili claimed.

    “If during the a year, the council only made a distribution loss of five percent, I feels it's reasonable because NamWater whom we buy water from also makes a loss,” Nghipangelwa said, after which Shimuoshili counter-argued saying that he does not work for NamWater but he is an elected member of the council mandated to serve the people.

    The debate heated up as Helao Nafidi chief executive officer Inga Iipinge had to intervene in the matter when the two could not reach agreement.

    Iipinge said there was no way a council would record a zero percent loss of water because nobody has full control of water after explaining that the water loss recorded is that when the pipes burst and only gets noticed after some time.

    She further explained that a client will have to pay for his water if the pipe burst between the water meter and the house as it's not the council's responsibility.

    “There is no way, nobody, no town that will be able to provide security guarding the streets in order for pipes not to leak and water losses being experienced,” she remarked.

    Shimuoshili maintained his stance that it was embarrassing to describe the loss as reasonable.

    Nghipangelwa before adjourning the meeting told Shimuoshili that he is ungrateful that council only recorded a five percent loss.

    As the auditors indicated in the report that an investigation should be launched and measures be put in place for the queries, council indicated that the department of finance will have meetings on a monthly basis and provide feedback on actions taken to minimise the audit queries.

    “Each and every section is expected to take action or ownership on every audit query related to each duties and give feedback and proof on correction done or improvement made,” the report read.

    KENYA KAMBOWE

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    Ex-governor's attackers charged with murderEx-governor's attackers charged with murder Four of the five suspects arrested in connection with an attack on the former governor of the Omusati Region, Leonard Nangolo Mukwiilongo, appeared before the Oshakati Magistrate's Court yesterday.

    The courtroom was packed by people who protested against the granting bail to the suspects.

    Stefanus Namupala (35), Tomas Amwele (34), Abraham Ashipena (26) and Joram Hafeni (26) appeared before Magistrate Vivian Ndlovu, who informed them that they would be charged with murder.

    Mukwiilongo died on 25 May in a northern private hospital where he had spent about a month in critical condition following the attack.

    A fifth suspect, Wilhelm Nakale (41), could not be in court yesterday because he is in police custody in Windhoek following his arrest in a different matter, while the sixth suspect is still at large.

    The six are accused of attacking the 92-year-old Mukwiilongo on 11 April at his Elim residence. They tortured and assaulted him while demanding from him the keys to his safe.

    “Hafeni, you are faced with a direct charge of murder, while accused one, three, four and five, you were charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances, but murder will be added to your charges,” Ndlovu said

    Thomas Amwele is represented by a private lawyer, Absalom Shiningayamwe. Stefanus told the court that he would apply for a legal aid lawyer while Shipana chose to make use of a private lawyer.

    Prosecutor Chrisna Masule opposed the granting of bail, saying there was a fear that the suspects might commit similar offences if released on bail.

    The case was postponed to 20 July for further police investigation and the transfer of Nakale from Windhoek.

    Retired Colonel Joel Utoni handed over a petition to the Oshakati Magistrate Court's Surrey Petrus.

    “These people are the biggest threat to our communities. Some of them are regular offenders who have been in and out of jails. Please they must not be granted bail to save our communities.

    “Many people are losing hope in our justice system because of matters like this. Mukwiilongo was a pensioner who lost his life in a cruel way,” the petition read.



    Funeral

    The minister of presidential affairs, Frans Kapofi, has confirmed to Namibian Sun that Mukwiilongo will be accorded a state funeral.

    Mukwiilongo's son, Tshatipamba, said the family welcomed the offer.

    “We are happy with the government's offer looking at what my father has done toward development of this country before and after independence. It is a good recognition for him and as a family we accept it,” Tshatipamba said.

    Mukwiilongo will be buried on Saturday at Elim, while a memorial service will be held at his residence at Onatshiku at 14:00 on Friday.

    ILENI NANDJATO

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    Road safety stressed at tourism expo Road safety stressed at tourism expo Namibia risks losing a huge part of its tourism market unless road safety is improved.

    Speaking at the official opening of the Namibian Tourism Expo, the minister of environment and tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, yesterday said that safe travel plays an imperative role in tourism as it improves a country's image by making it a prime tourist destination due to positive records on tourist safety.

    According to Shifeta Namibia is known among its regional visitors as a 'self-drive' destination. “If we don't keep our roads safe, we run the risk of losing out on that market and the multiplier effects that it generates.” The minister of works and transport, Alpheus !Naruseb, said that the tourism sector is believed to be one of the primary contributors to the country's economic growth for which the provision of transport services remains a prerequisite.





    He said despite Namibia taking great pride in constructing and maintaining world-class transport infrastructure, there are worrisome indications that road transport in particular requires collective attention.

    “We have seen gruesome road collisions involving tourists to the detriment of our economy in terms of victim compensation and tarnished reputation. For us to be a country of choice for tourists, we need to do our part in terms of ensuring safety and security of those coming to visit our country.”

    He said that negative publicity on account of road accidents involving visiting tourists was not good for the country.

    !Naruseb said efforts should be made to educate self-driving tourists of the prevailing requirements before their arrival in Namibia and venturing on our road network

    Now in its 19th year the expo, which has become the largest tourism event in the country, is taking place this year under the theme of 'Safe Travel'.

    Shifeta said that the expo serves as a platform for Namibia's tourism industry to promote and market their products and services to all stakeholders in the industry as well as the general public.

    According to him events of this magnitude are not just good for the tourism industry, but also for Namibia's exposure as a destination.

    “More visitors across the world will become aware of Namibia and they will be enticed to visit.”

    Shifeta also thanked Namibia Media Holdings (NMH) for hosting the event and urged the company to further grow the expo in the future.

    “Government is taking note of the many milestones you have achieved. We recognise that you operate a highly complex and competitive environment, you have our support as demonstrated in the past while at the same time we would like to appeal to you to ensure that the tourism expo is growing and attracting more exhibitors not only locally and regionally but from the rest of the world, making it one of the important events on the Namibia tourism calendar.”



    The minister further said that tourism is among the fastest growing industries in the world and a vibrant sector with lots of opportunities.



    According to Shifeta over the past years Namibia's tourism industry has experienced a commendable growth.



    Tourist arrivals to Namibia have recorded a significant increase and the country is still growing from strength to strength, said Shifeta.



    “We should be mindful of the competition from other destinations in the region. That is why we should not remain satisfied with the current rating whether in government or the tourism industry, we must take stock of our position constantly and work hard to strengthen it.”



    Meanwhile, the Wilderness Safari Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp was announced as the winner of the Responsible Tourism Awards at the opening of the expo yesterday.



    The CEO of NMH, Albe Botha, gave a word of thanks and said that the expo would not have been a success without the support of exhibitors, sponsors, stakeholders and visitors.



    “Economic times are tough and this year more so than ever before, we cannot make this expo a success without the sponsorship of Old Mutual and Nedbank.”



    He also reminded the public that there are only a few days left to vote for Lüderitz, Ondangwa, Otjiwarongo or Swakopmund as the town of the year by sending an SMS to 51500 with the town name and your choice of town.





    ELLANIE SMIT

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    Poacher stories changed months after incidentPoacher stories changed months after incident The attempted murder claims made by three men during testimony at the trial of Kai Rust this week, that he had shot at them as they fled the scene where Andreas Ukandanga had died from a gunshot wound last January, conflicted with their first police

    statements.

    Rust's advocate, Jan Wessels, informed the court during his cross-examination of the three witnesses, who had joined Ukandanga on an illegal hunt on the Rust farm that day, that not one of the initial police statements following the shooting contained allegations that he tried to kill them and that bullets “struck the sand” while they ran.

    Two of the witnesses, Ndara Ndjamba and Murongo Hausiku, gave police new witness statements more than eight months after the shooting, claiming then that Rust had shot at them as they fled.

    However, Hausiku, when he was handed the second statement he provided to police in August that year, told the court yesterday: “It is my statement, but it is not my signature.”

    He could not explain or attribute the stranger's signature on his second statement.

    Another witness statement taken shortly after the shooting incident, from Hausiku's girlfriend, also did not contain the allegation of attempted murder, although Hausiku told the court yesterday that she was the first person he saw and talked to after the event that day.

    “No comment,” Hausiku said when asked why she would not include such crucial details.





    Hausiku, Ndjamba and a third witness, Ntsamba Nikanor, all repeated the phrase that the last two shots fired were aimed at them, and that they had seen the bullets “hit the sand” near their feet as they ran.



    However, Wessels told that court that none of the witness statements, neither the initial ones nor those made later, contained references to the sand details repeatedly given during the testimony this week.







    Changing stories



    State witness Nikanor moreover changed his explanation for the absence of the allegations in his first statement on the stand during his cross-examination on Wednesday.



    At first, he told Wessels that “I might not have given that information, but I did see the bullets hit the sand”, when explaining the lack of the allegation in his first police statement.



    A few minutes later, he claimed “I told the police. I told all of them.”



    “If you had told the police it would have been put in your signed statement, because that is the crux of your statement, that the accused tried to kill you,” Wessels said.



    Hausiku also testified in court yesterday that he had seen Ukandanga fall and then saw how the second bullet hit the dog, killing it.



    However, in his initial police statement given in January 2016, Hausiku told the police “I did not see any dog that was shot, and neither did I see a shooter.”



    The first state witness, Ndara Ndjamba, during the first day of the trial on Tuesday, initially told Wessels that his first witness statement did not indicate that Rust had fired at him as he fled because the police “did not ask us”.



    He later changed this statement under further cross-examination, after he was confronted about his second statement, given in October that year, when he told the police Rust had fired at him.



    He told Wessels that he had in fact told police on “the first day … so they are the ones who didn't add it.”







    Questions



    Wessels yesterday informed the court that during Rust's first bail application in Okahandja, which was denied, the public prosecutor at the time told the court she was in possession of witness statements alleging Rust had fired at them as they fled.



    “But at the time, the witness statements did not contain this,” Wessels argued in court yesterday.



    “What horrifies me is in order to charge the accused with attempted murder, there should be statements under oath that shots were fired at you, but there were no such statements,” Wessels said.



    During the testimony all three men testified that the day's events were put in motion when they received a call from Frans Ndjamba, a farmworker at Otukaruno, Rust's family farm, on the day of the shooting, informing them the farm owner was gone and “inviting” them to for an illegal hunt.



    The men were later found guilty of poaching and fined.



    They also agreed that when the first shot was fired Ukandanga immediately fell to the ground and that none initially saw the shooter or where the bullet had come from.



    All four men testified that they heard four shots, and that the first shot killed Ukandanga.



    According to the men they were processing the carcass near a “flat rock”, in an open area populated by a few low bushes.



    The court was informed this week that Wessels will apply for permission to take Regional Court Magistrate Alexis Diergaardt to the scene of the shooting before the end of the trial, in order to provide a better understanding of the vegetation and other details there.



    Wessels this week presented crime scene photos taken by the police's forensic team, which showed that while the rock did slope down towards the ground, it was 1.8 metres at its highest point and about 1.5 metres high at the point where the witnesses had told police Ukandanga had been crouching when a bullet hit him.



    Wessels has put on the record that his client claims he did not aim the bullet at any person, and had fired in order to scare off one of the hunting dogs, after which the bullet ricochet and hit Ukandanga accidentally, killing him.



    The trial will continue on 22 June.

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  • 05/31/17--16:00: NDP5's grand plans
  • NDP5's grand plansNDP5's grand plansLofty goals set for the next five years The Fifth National Development Plan echoes the targets set by the Harambee Prosperity Plan and Vision 2030, and the targets are set high. Approximately 7 200 new homes, 6 500 serviced erven, and 40 000 new jobs per year to the end of March 2022 from part of the fifth development plan launched by President Hage Geingob yesterday.

    “At the outset, the plan will entail the modernisation and upgrading of our production sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, fisheries, mining and tourism. By focusing on these sectors, we will be able to create more jobs to absorb new jobseekers into the market,” Geingob said.

    The Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5), which will cost N$162.5 billion to implement, targets the lives of Namibians on all levels.



    Poverty

    The 11% of citizens classified as severely poor must be reduced to 5% by the end of March 2022, while the 18% classified as poor must be reduced to 10%. To achieve this goal, a comprehensive national programme for social welfare protection will be developed and extended.

    The poverty level in the rural areas, measured at 37% in 2010, must be reduced to 25% and in an attempt to reach this goal, the private sector will be motivated and incentivised to invest in these areas.





    Further goals of reducing poverty include increasing local food production. By the end of the NDP5, food production must increase by 30% over the 2016 production level.



    According to President Geingob, the Harambee Prosperity Plan neither replaces Vision 2030 nor the country's development plan. “Harambee is there to speed up certain aspects of these plans so as to improve the quality of life of all Namibians,” he said.







    Jobs



    With economic growth supposed to be set at roughly 4.6% per annum, some 200 000 jobs will be created in the five-year period of the plan. The construction sector, currently in a recession with massive job losses, is set to provide 24 000 of these new jobs.



    According to NDP5, the SME sector must create 45 600 jobs during the five-year period and by 2022, the sector must provide jobs for 177 600 Namibians.



    Access to finance remains a critical challenge for the SME sector and due to this, microloans under NDP5 will be increased from N$2.3 billion to N$3 billion.



    In the tourism sector, the current job provision of 29 000 (2014) must be increased to 43 000 by 2022. To ensure growth in this sector, visitors to Namibia must grow from 1.4 million (2015) to 1.8 million in 2022.



    Value addition also forms part of the government's plan for job creation. Currently 23% of our natural resources are processed and by 2022, 46% is targeted.



    The fisheries industry will have to add value to 50% of all total allowable catches before these may be exported and the export of local product, including diamonds, must increase from 34.7% in 2015 to 50% by 2022.



    The youth unemployment rate must decrease from 39.2% (2014) to 33%.







    Housing



    Approximately 19% of Namibian households currently reside in homes that are constructed from waste material. By 2022, this figure must be reduced to 12%. In this regard, 36 000 homes and 32 500 serviced erven must be completed in the five-year period.



    According to the NDP5 document, the Mass Housing Project launched in 2013 has completed only 1 023 houses and 3 181 are currently under construction. This is far below the annual target of 10 278 homes per annum.



    The 72% of rural Namibians without access to toilets will be reduced to 60% by 2022 and further, access to water in rural areas must increase from the current 84% to 95%.







    Education



    “Quality education is still not satisfactory, especially in schools in poor communities. In isolated rural areas, the number of children not completing their schooling is still too high. The entry level of high school graduates to tertiary institutions is currently at 19% of Grade 12 learners and this must change,” Geingob said.



    At the end of NDP5, 60% of all pre-primary teachers must be qualified. Currently the figure stands at 45%. Some 96% of primary school learners must complete their primary schooling compared to the current 88.6%.



    Where 36% of Grade 12 learners qualified for university entrance, 50% must achieve this by 2022 and students that graduate must increase from 50% to 70%



    Marginalised communities, such as the San, Ovatue and Ovatjimba, have 58% of their children unschooled. By 2022, this figure must drop to 20%.



    NDP5 will also increase life expectancy in the country, currently at 58 (2015) to 67.5 by 2022.



    JO-MARE DUDDY

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    Brave Warriors jet off to GhanaBrave Warriors jet off to GhanaSeek qualification glory The Brave Warriors have impressed many people who have watched them train over the past few weeks. The Namibia senior national team yesterday left for Ghana as part of their preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

    The team will be training at the Lizzy Sports Complex in Accra for five days.

    The team will also play friendly matches in Ghana before their tough encounter.

    After their training camp in Ghana, the team will travel to Guinea Bissau where they will play their first match of the 2019 Afcon qualifiers.

    Namibia Football Association (NFA) secretary-general Barry Rukoro said he was happy with the way the team had been training.

    “I can tell you now that this is one of the strongest squads the country has had in a long time.

    “Just by watching them train at the soccer house convinced me that this boys have a greater chance of qualifying,” Rukoro said.

    “And even if we do qualify, I do not think we are going to end up in the group stage like we usually do.

    “We have the right type of players that can offer wealth of experience.”

    The Brave Warriors are in group K together with Zambia, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique for the qualifiers.

    Namibia have only made it to the Africa Cup of Nations on two occasions, in 1998 and 2008, but never progressed beyond the group stages.



    Squad: Goalkeepers:Virgil Vries, Maximillian Mbaeva.

    Defenders: Willem Mwedihanga, Tiberius Lombard, Chris Katjiukua, Ferdinand Karongee, Riaan Hanamub, Ananias Gebhardt, Larry Horaeb, Edmund Kambanda

    Midfielders: Ronald Ketjijere (captain), Denzil Haoseb, Oswaldo Xamseb, Dynamo Fredericks, Wang Gome, Benyamin Nenkavu, Deon Hotto, Petrus Shitembi, Absalom Iimbondi

    Strikers: Benson Shilongo, Itamunua Keimuine, Hendrick Somaeb, Peter Shalulile, Roger Katjiteo.











    JESSE JACKSON KAURAISA

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  • 06/01/17--16:00: Will they do it again?
  • Will they do it again?Will they do it again? The inaugural domestic rugby competition has reached its halfway mark with the second round of matches getting under way this weekend.

    The Windhoek Draught Welwitschias will meet the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Saturday in Pretoria at the Loftus Versfeld stadium in what promises to be an exciting match.

    The Blue Bulls beat the Welwitschias 50 – 25 in the first round of the competition last month but the Namibian team recently won their first match and have a lot of confidence to take on opponents in the second round.

    Lyn Jones, the Welwitschias coach, spoke about their first win in the challenge as well as the upcoming game. “We scored excellent points from the first phase; we defended with spirit, passion and pride. We deserved the victory and the margin is accurate. We have been working to changing and improving our culture, it has not been easy – some people don't want to change,” he said.

    Jones said the players must be congratulated on how they've responded since conceding a ton against the Lions three weeks ago. “Your season can go either way after an experience like that. They came back from the dead with commitment to the cause of their country, I'm very proud of them.”

    Looking ahead to the Bulls on Saturday, Jones warmed to his process approach: “We have a squad to grow the game in Namibia so we can compete at international level and perhaps win a match in the 2019 World Cup.

    “We need to improve club standards and infrastructure and create athletes. We are not focusing on the Bulls, that is a short-term goal which we will deal with, but our plan includes competing in the Currie Cup in August.”







    LIMBA MUPETAMI

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  • 06/01/17--16:00: Eye on the prize
  • Eye on the prizeEye on the prizeSenior hockey team preps for cup The Seaflower senior women indoor hockey national team is preparing for the indoor African Cup of nations starting on 23 June in Swakopmund at the Dome. Three countries, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, will compete for top spot. The country that wins will automatically qualify for the 2018 Indoor World Cup scheduled for Berlin, Germany, early next year.

    Erwin Handura, head coach of the senior women indoor national team, said that his team needed to win the trophy because the players needed international exposure.

    Haindura said that the Windhoek-based players were training three times per week while the seven South African-based Namibian players were actively playing and training for their universities and colleges. He further said that a final training camp would be held from June 16-18, either in Windhoek or South Africa.

    “During this training camp we will play five matches. Thereafter we will travel to Swakopmund on 19 June to acclimatise and to polish the team extensively.” The coach further encouraged local players to come out in numbers to witness the speed and skill of the best indoor hockey players on the continent.

    “Some of these players have been to previous world cups and thus their experience, technical and tactical skills are awesome to watch. This event will also serve as a motivation to the youth that one day they too can play at this level,” he said.

    The squad:

    Magreth Mengo (Captain), Petro Stoffberg, Jerrica Bartlett, Marcia Venter, Jocelle Deysel, Sunelle Ludwig,Ina Louis,Phia Gerber,Berencia Diamond (GK), Gillian Hermanus,Durè Boshoff, Zalia Duvenhage.





    LIMBA MUPETAMI

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    Fredericks gives scholarshipsFredericks gives scholarshipsFFF lives up to its promises Johannes Nambala and fellow athletes are the lucky ones to receive scholarships from the former top sprinter's foundation. Five talented Namibian athletes were awarded Frank Fredericks Foundation (FFF) scholarships with a total value of N$235 00.

    An additional N$15 000 was awarded to three student athletes in the informal settlements as part of the foundation's community development initiatives.

    Double Paralympic Games silver medallist Johannes Nambala was the recipient of the largest award amounting to N$150 000, which can be used over three years.

    “The Frank Fredericks Foundation is honoured to partner with Johannes as he sets his eyes firmly on preparing for the 2020 Paralympic Games,” said trustee Amos Shiyuka. Last October during its annual fundraising Golf Day, the foundation made a commitment that it would look at supporting Nambala.

    “I am glad that together with our valued sponsors for the golf day we were able to come through on our promise,” said Shiyuka.

    “The foundation is also pleased that we can continue to walk a road with Gabriel Shikodi, a brilliant golfer who we have been sponsoring for the past three years through the proceeds of the fundraising golf day.” Rising sprinting sensation Sade de Sousa and Namibian Youth Olympic qualifiers Ivan Danny Geldenhuys and Natalie Louw are recipients of scholarships valued at N$20 000 each.

    Their scholarships will be geared at covering their academic and sports expenses.

    Three student athletes, Teopolina Shidolo, Lutz van Wyk and Werner Amupolo from the Babilon and One Nation informal settlements, were awarded scholarships of N$5 000 each. They received the scholarships following their participation in the Athletics for a Better World Project carried out over the past two years on the outskirts of Windhoek.

    The foundation through the support of Wärtsilä in conjunction with the Finnish non-governmental organisation Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) also launched the Athletics for a Better World Project in the informal settlements of Windhoek.

    The project is aimed at conducting HIV/Aids education through sport to young people aged 13 to 20.

    SPORT REPORTER

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  • 06/01/17--16:00: Stage set for Cardiff final
  • Stage set for Cardiff finalStage set for Cardiff final Marcelo was still in his teens when he arrived at Real Madrid with the difficult task of replacing one of his boyhood idols, Roberto Carlos.

    It didn't take long for him to rise to the challenge.

    On Saturday, Marcelo will have a chance to emulate Roberto Carlos' feat of winning three Champions League titles.

    “It's priceless to be playing again in a Champion League final,” said Marcelo, who will face Juventus on Saturday in Cardiff. “I couldn't be happier.” Nearly 11 years after joining Madrid from Brazilian club Fluminense as an 18-year-old promising youngster, Marcelo has become a defensive star just like Roberto Carlos, who won his Champions League titles in 1998, 2000 and 2002.

    One of the team's captains, Marcelo will be trying to win his third European title in four seasons.

    He scored a goal in extra time when Madrid defeated crosstown rival Atletico Madrid in the 2014 final, and converted a penalty kick in last year's decisive shootout, also against Atletico. Marcelo and Roberto Carlos are the foreign players with the most ever appearances with Real Madrid. Marcelo will be playing in his 408th match on Saturday, while Roberto Carlos ended his 11-year stint with the club with 527.

    Roberto Carlos left Madrid shortly after Marcelo arrived, but the two remained friends and stayed in contact since then.

    Roberto Carlos works for the club and still lives in the Spanish capital.

    “To come to a place where your idol is playing and have him welcome you so warmly, knowing that you play in his position, that's rare in soccer,” Marcelo said.

    “I came here to be his successor and he treated me and my family as if we were his own. He gave us his number and told us to call him if we needed anything.”

    Earlier this year, Marcelo surpassed Roberto Carlos as the foreign-born player with most Spanish league wins with Madrid.

    The 44-year-old Roberto Carlos has repeatedly praised his successor, calling him the world's best full back. The former great thrived with a very different style compared to Marcelo, relying mostly on his physical strength and incredible long-range shots. The 29-year-old Marcelo has excelled with his skilful footwork and precise crosses, looking more like a playmaker than a defensive player. Marcelo was one of the team's leaders in assists this season, and his performances were good enough to earn him a place in Brazil's national team under coach Tite. Marcelo won a bronze medal with Brazil at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but was left out of the 2010 World Cup squad coached by Dunga. He was a starter in Brazil's 7-1 loss to Germany in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup.

    Roberto Carlos won the 2002 World Cup under coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. Marcelo will be facing another Brazilian on Saturday, right back Dani Alves, who has thrived since joining Juventus from Barcelona last season. The Brazil teammates will be on the same side of the field and are expected to be constantly going against each other. “I know that Dani Alves is a very good player and I always enjoying playing against him,” Marcelo said. “It's going to be a great match.”

    NAMPA/AP

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  • 06/01/17--16:00: Your BP's too high
  • Your BP's too highYour BP's too highHypertension can kill slowly or quickly Far too often, we reach for medicine to treat chronic conditions, but natural remedies and a change in responses and thought patterns often also do the trick. So your doctor just told you that you have hypertension, a life-long disease. Now what? There are many ways you can naturally lower high blood pressure. It can be modified by consistent diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes.

    Hypertension is one of the 'silent killers'. If not treated, can lead to heart disease and kidney failure.

    Your blood pressure rises when your heart is forced to work extra hard. It can be raised temporarily by anxiety and other stress factors. It can lead to damage of the heart or to the vascular system. It is important to keep your pressure within a normal range so that your entire body can efficiently receive fresh oxygenated blood.

    No one knows why one person is more susceptible to hypertension than other people, but it is important to know what common risk factors are. Some risk factors are modifiable, while others are not. The good news is that hypertension can be managed.

    Risk factors that can put people at risk for hypertension: Family history, obesity, sedentary lifestyles, diet high in salt and sugars, drinking, smoking, contraceptive use and age.

    Untreated hypertension can lead to permanent damage to your organs, heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), kidney failure, and other health problems.

    The recommended blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg. Pre-hypertension is anything between 120/80 – 139/89 mm Hg. High blood pressure is anything equal to or above 140/90 mm Hg. Along with lifestyle changes, there are many natural ways to lower high blood pressure. Try a few natural remedies to find the ones that best benefits your body.

    Natural remedies that lower high blood pressure

    1. Garlic is gaining more and more popularity for its use in lowering high blood pressure. This herb also has blood thinning properties which makes it great for improving overall cardiac health. Garlic is also a natural diuretic — meaning it forces out excess sodium and water from the body, and into your urine. This effect takes pressure off of an overworked heart and decreases blood pressure.

    2. Carrots contain high levels of antioxidants beta-carotene, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Antioxidants reduce the amount of cancer-causing free radicals in the body. They also protect against damage to blood vessels and cellular death. Carrots are also high in the electrolyte, potassium. Potassium is great at keeping the fluid within the body balanced and normalizing blood pressure.

    3. Tomatoes contain beta-carotene, vitamin E, potassium, and antioxidants — which are all great at lowering high blood pressure.

    4. Celery seeds are widely used in the Chinese culture for lowering blood pressure. Specifically, the Chinese use celery seeds to lower high blood pressure of the liver.

    5. Pomegranates not only are dense in nutrients, but are also high in antioxidants — specifically in tannins and anthocyanins. Pomegranates are fruits that have a hard shell and edible juicy red seeds. Pomegranates contain phytochemicals, flavonoids, polyphenols, and punicalagin.

    6. Beets & radishes are under-appreciated and overlooked vegetables. Both beets and radishes are high in nitrates, which are great at lowering high blood pressure, by improving vasodilation. Nitrates change into vasodilator nitric oxide after being ingested. Nitric acid dilates blood vessels, regulates blood pressure, decreases endothelial inflammation, and platelet aggregation.

    7. Sesame oil contains omega-6s, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), Vitamin E, and sesamin, which are great for lowering blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Sesamin is a lignan compound in sesame oil that has been shown to reduce blood pressure levels. Sesame lignans reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the body.

    8. Ginger has been used for centuries in Asian and Indian cultures, especially for its numerous health benefits. Ginger is great for preventing heart conditions, such as lowering blood pressure, decreasing cholesterol, and preventing blood clots.

    9. Coconut water is filled with potassium and magnesium electrolytes, which are good for the heart muscle. Coconut water lowers blood pressure by acting as a potassium sparing diuretic. This removes the excess water from the body, while retaining vital potassium.

    10. Cayenne pepper is a known vasodilator. It quickly expands blood vessels, which improves the flow of blood. Faster and more efficient flow takes pressure off of the arteries, thus decreasing your blood pressure.

    11. Dark chocolate is made from the seeds of the cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao) and is loaded with antioxidants (cancer fighting) — including polyphenols, flavonoids, catechins. The cocoa tree seeds contain flavonoids, but more importantly, it is exceptionally high in its levels of flavanols.

    12. Cardamom is a spice that has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda medicine. It is widely used for cardiac disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, renal problems, heart burn, and respiratory disorders. Cardamom causes vasodilation (dilation of blood vessels) and allows blood to flow more easily, thus lowering blood pressure.

    13. Hibiscus is widely used around the world to manage blood pressure. Hibiscus acts as a diuretic and flushes out all the excess fluid that is in your heart and in your tissues.

    14. Curcumin is the main component of turmeric. Turmeric is one of the most studied spice in the world. It is known to significantly decrease inflammation throughout the body. By reducing inflammation, turmeric improves blood flow and improves cardiovascular function. Turmeric can help remove some of the plaque build-up off arterial walls. Turmeric is also a natural blood thinner, which improves blood flow and thus, lowers blood pressure.

    15. Omega-3 is great at lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

    16. Lavender is a popular fragrance that is widely used as a relaxer of the mind, body and soul. This herb is also known to help decrease your blood pressure and heart rate.

    Final Note

    It's important to keep your blood pressure at a normal range. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for hypertension. Just keep in mind that these natural remedies cannot lower your blood pressure alone. You still have to alter lifestyle choices that may be the direct cause of your hypertension. A good diet and quality exercise are also important in lowering blood pressure. There are many natural remedies that can help lower your pressure — the trick is finding the remedies that work best for you. Relax , listen to some music and breathe.

    REMEDIES FOR YOU

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    Android developer launches phoneAndroid developer launches phoneExperts say market already saturated by big brands Andy Rubin, developer of Android, is launching his own cell phone – the Essential, and while some say the market is already full, others say it is a product line to watch. Andy Rubin, one of the creators of Google's Android software, has launched his own high-end smartphone.

    Rubin left Google in 2014 to create Playground, a technology investment company.

    Essential is one of the companies it funds - and the Essential Phone is its first product.

    The device runs the Android operating system and has gone on sale in the US for US$699 (N$9 450).

    However, it will be difficult to break into the huge market dominance of established brands.

    Samsung currently has the largest share of the smartphone market, with 21% of global sales, according to analyst firm Gartner. Apple enjoys 14%.

    Aside from Chinese giants offering subsidised devices, smaller firms have found it difficult to command even single-digit market share - and the Essential Phone's pricing will set it an even greater challenge.

    But Rubin told an audience in California that he believed there was space in the Android market for another big player besides Samsung, and that Essential was aiming to be a major consumer brand with several products.

    As well as Phone, Essential will “soon” sell Home a standalone assistant similar to Amazon's Alexa and Google's Home.



    Combined lenses

    The Essential Phone is made from titanium and has a screen that stretches across most of the device, with minimal bezel.

    On the reverse, two magnetic dots are designed to make it simple to snap-on accessories, such as a 360-degree camera add-on the company is also offering.

    There are two built-in rear cameras - the combined lenses make it possible to take better photographs in low light, Essential said. The front-facing (selfie) camera is in line with competitors, offering an eight megapixel sensor.

    Rubin promised that the titanium design made the Phone strong enough to not need a case.

    There are no logos on the device - something which aids the clean look of the phone, but will make it even tougher to build brand recognition among smartphone buyers who do not follow technology news.

    The Phone's specifications will not shake up the smartphone market in any meaningful way.

    However, Rubin's reputation as the man who designed the most-used mobile operating system today will mean Essential will be a company to watch.



    Compelling alternative

    In particular, its plan to launch a home assistant along with its own operating system, Ambient OS, could offer compelling alternative to Google's or Amazon's home assistant systems - at a time when the market is in its infancy (compared to smartphones where, most analysts agree, the market has reached its peak).

    In a blog post published on 2 May, the company's software systems architect Manual Roman said: “Ambient OS runs in your home and leverages your home network as much as possible.

    For example, it can interact with many home automation devices directly without having to go to the cloud. “Furthermore, it keeps user data locally whenever possible giving users more control over their privacy.” Investors in the idea include iPhone-manufacturer Foxconn, and Chinese tech giant Tencent.

    BBC

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