Articles on this Page
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Fed rate hike expected
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Zimbabwe bans grain...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _OPEC faces new threat
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Tips for managing f...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Final touches to Tu...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Safety nets address...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Morocco will send f...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Cosby trial almost ...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Hope for peace in L...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Shot of the day
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Psemas confusion re...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _PSs urged to spend ...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Geingob eulogises O...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Ya Ndakolo defends ...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Chinese fund raises...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Human trafficking i...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Receipts are up in ...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Elephants invade Ou...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Furious Cota studen...
- 06/13/17--16:00: _Seventh accused in ...
- 06/13/17--16:00: Fed rate hike expected
- 06/13/17--16:00: Zimbabwe bans grain imports
- 06/13/17--16:00: OPEC faces new threat
- 06/13/17--16:00: Tips for managing family businesses
- 06/13/17--16:00: Final touches to Tura expo
- 06/13/17--16:00: Safety nets address poverty
- 06/13/17--16:00: Morocco will send food to Qatar after Gulf states cut ties
- 06/13/17--16:00: Cosby trial almost done
- 06/13/17--16:00: Hope for peace in Lesotho
- 06/13/17--16:00: Shot of the day
- 06/13/17--16:00: Psemas confusion reigns
- 06/13/17--16:00: PSs urged to spend frugally
- 06/13/17--16:00: Geingob eulogises Ouma Petersen
- 06/13/17--16:00: Ya Ndakolo defends military budget
- 06/13/17--16:00: Chinese fund raises thousands for wildlife
- 06/13/17--16:00: Human trafficking is here
- 06/13/17--16:00: Receipts are up in smoke
- 06/13/17--16:00: Elephants invade Outjo district
- 06/13/17--16:00: Furious Cota students march
- 06/13/17--16:00: Seventh accused in N$3.5bn fraud
“The expectation of a rate hike... is widely held, and has been reinforced by the most recent round of Fed communications,” said Michael Feroli, an economist with J.P. Morgan.
Economists polled by Reuters overwhelmingly see the Fed raising its benchmark rate to a target range of 1% to 1.25% this week.
The Fed embarked on its first tightening cycle in more than a decade in December 2015. A quarter percentage point interest rate rise on Wednesday would be the second nudge upwards this year following a similar move in March.
Since then, the unemployment rate has fallen to a 16-year low of 4.3% and economic growth appears to have reaccelerated following a lacklustre first quarter.
However, other indicators of the economy's health have been more mixed.
The Fed's preferred measure of underlying inflation has retreated to 1.5% from 1.8% earlier in 2017 and investors are growing increasingly doubtful policymakers will be able to stick to their anticipated pace of tightening of three interest rate rises this year and next.
There are also growing doubts on the size and scope of fiscal stimulus the Trump administration may inject into the US economy with campaign promises on tax reform, financial regulation rollbacks and infrastructure spending either still on the drawing board or facing hurdles in Congress.
Fed policymakers' confidence in their outlook will be on show on Wednesday when they release their latest set of quarterly projections on growth, unemployment and inflation as well as their expected rate hike path.
Few economists expect major changes in the Fed's overall forecasts this time around, although the extent of jitters on inflation moving away from the Fed's 2% goal will likely be reflected at an individual level.
Markets are, however, increasingly anxious for the Fed to give a clearer steer on the timing and details of its previously announced plan to reduce this year its US$4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities, most of which were purchased in the wake of the financial crisis to help keep rates low and bolster the economy.
The southern African nation's grain agency has also raised US$200 million from the government and private sector to purchase maize from farmers, the Herald newspaper said.
The national treasury last week forecast output of the staple maize at 2.1 million tonnes this year, from 511 000 tonnes in 2016.
“It is true we have banned all grain imports because we have produced enough this year and also because we need to protect our local farmers,” Davis Mharapira, the deputy minister of agriculture said.
Mharapira said the Grain Marketing Board would pay US$390 per tonne for white maize, almost triple the US$143 for the September contract for white maize in South Africa, one of the countries from which Zimbabwe has previously imported maize.
The deputy minister said the higher price would encourage farmers to produce more maize while the import ban would make it impossible for dealers to buy the grain abroad and resell it at a higher price locally.
Zimbabwe has since 2001 been importing maize to meet domestic demand of 1.8 million tonnes, blamed in part on seizures of white-owned farms by the government of President Robert Mugabe that hit commercial agriculture production.
Mharapira said the national strategic grain reserve was holding 180,000 tonnes of maize, far below its targeted requirements of between 500 000 and 700 000 tonnes.
That would undermine the impact of supply cuts led by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which partly aimed to force traders holding oil in storage to sell to reduce bloated inventories that have sapped global prices.
Brent crude futures for delivery in half a year's time were this week around US$1.50 per barrel above current prices, a market structure known as 'contango' that makes it profitable to store fuel instead of selling for direct use.
Shipping data shows that at least 15 super tankers are sitting in Southeast Asia's Strait of Malacca and Singapore Strait, filled with unsold fuel.
While that is less than in previous months, traders said that volumes in storage could easily pick up. “If contango lasts, it's very possible that the amount of tankers used for storage rises back to levels seen earlier this year,” said a trader who fixes floating storage deals. He declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak with media.
Oil shipments to Asia remain high, stoking the supply glut in the region.
Trade data shows that 21.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude came to Asia on tankers in May. While that is down from a peak in February, it is similar to levels in late 2016, before production cuts were announced.
OPEC has so far shied away from making significant supply cuts to its biggest customers, most of which are in Asia. And other producers, especially from the United States, have stepped up exports, further stoking the glut. OPEC's de-facto leader Saudi Arabia now says it will cut July crude allocations to Asia by 300 000 bpd, although many Asian refiners so far say they have received all their allocations.
Going forward, analysts said that storage levels would be key in determining the health of the oil market. “It's the only statistical proof the market can get to confirm or deny OPEC's claim the market is heading back toward balance,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.
Namibia also has a number of successfully family-owned businesses which have been going strong for many years.
Fanie Steenkamp, head of commercial banking at FNB Business gives insight on the basics to building an accomplished family business. “The success of a family-owned business largely depends on the commitment of the family members involved in the business. Family enterprises predominantly demand an 'all or nothing' approach as the entire family's livelihood often depends on the success of the business. Unfortunately this also the main cause of family businesses that fail,” he said.
“Unlike decades ago, approaches to family-owned businesses vary with every enterprise. The focus has been shifting towards holding ownership instead of having family members operationally involved in the business – essentially transferring management to professional manager. Family involvement would then be at a board level or top management where the focal point is broader business strategy,” he added.
According to Steenkamp, even though families vastly differ in approaching a family-owned enterprise, there are still those who remain hands-on, especially when the business is still relatively new or small. “Whether a family is actively involved or not, it is important to set a blue-print of how the business will operate.”
He advised families to amongst others, plan for succession, to clarify roles through job descriptions and to avoid interference.
“If family members are actively involved in running day-to-day activities of the business, it is necessary to clarify roles and have job descriptions so that everyone is clear about what they need to be doing,” said Steenkamp.
Succession was also a big problem amongst families explained Steenkamp. “Succession is one of the biggest challenges often faced by family businesses. It is essential that the family has a plan in place to ensure seamless transition and change of leadership when such time comes. This plan should be well communicated throughout the whole family,” he concluded.
Kandjii said this year's event is envisaged to be bigger and better than the previous years. “Over the years the numbers have increased from 3 000 when we started to 26 000 to date and we expect these numbers to grow even bigger this year,” said Kandjii. Last year the expo had about 47 corporate exhibitors, 40 small- and medium-enterprises and 55 micro-businesses that exhibited at the event.
This year's expo will comprise of a trade expo of small- and medium-enterprises, an agricultural show of various livestock breeds, sport activities and religious as well as faith-based activities. “As per our tradition we will also have musical performances from various local artists and traditional performances from renowned cultural groups,” added Kandjii.
The organising committee also called on sponsors to get on board for the expo this year to ensure the success of the event. “We extend our gratitude to all our sponsors throughout the years but we once again urge you to come on board in full swing for the expo this year,” said Kandjii.
The annual Katutura expo is slated to take place from 1 to 6 August at the Katutura Multipurpose Youth Centre. This year's expo will be held under the theme 'Driving towards breaking barriers of economic inequality'.
However, despite the considerable efforts, this has still not helped to lift the majority of the population out of poverty as the country still ranks as the second most unequal society in the world, topped only by South Africa.
The findings were made public this week during the launch of the 'Does Fiscal Policy Benefit the Poor and Reduce Inequality in Namibia?' report by Namibia country director for the World Bank, Paul Noumba Um.
According to him, Namibia has to fight poverty on three fronts and said that the task at hand would not be easy to solve.
“The country continues to grapple with the triple challenges of poverty, high inequality and high unemployment. Inequality remains high and there are too many Namibians, especially the youth, without good jobs. Tackling poverty and unemployment in one of the most unequal countries in the world is no small task,” said Noumba Um.
Fellow World Bank representative Victor Sulla said that despite the highly skewed distribution of income, he had found that transfers by government were spent efficiently to address the poverty scourge. “Namibia is more efficient than other middle-income countries in terms of its interventions. Namibia's poorest households received up to two-thirds of their direct income from transfers. Old-age spending accounts for about 59% of direct transfers.”
According to Sulla, social spending in Namibia was quite high when compared to other Sub-Saharan African countries and other comparable middle-income countries. “Overall the spending is very generous. Social protection spending in Namibia is higher than the average for sub-Saharan Africa meaning that social spending is on the high side.”
The World Bank also found that government's social interventions have helped lift approximately 118 000 people out of poverty and further cut severe poverty by a quarter. The Gini-coefficient the World Bank had found also dropped somewhat because of monetary interventions by government, falling from 0.635 to 0.429.
Statistician-general Alex Shimuafeni said that government efforts had helped address poverty.
“Namibia's progressive fiscal policies and generous social spending have on the whole helped reduce poverty and inequality even though these remain the country's pressing developmental challenges,” said Shimuafeni.
Without sugar-coating anything, he acknowledged that poverty remained rampant. “Poverty is amongst us, that is real and a reality,” said Shimuafeni.
Noumba Um cautioned that despite the positive developments, the level of poverty still remained very high for a middle-income country.
Qatar, which imported 80% of its food from bigger Gulf Arab neighbours before the diplomatic shutdown, has also been talking to Iran and Turkey to secure food and water.
“This decision was made in conformity with Islamic precepts that call for solidarity and mutual aid between Muslim people, notably during this holy month of Ramadan,” the Moroccan foreign ministry statement said on Monday.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain accuse Qatar of supporting militants - an allegation dismissed by Doha.
On Sunday, Morocco said it would remain neutral in the dispute, offering to mediate between the Gulf countries, which are all close allies to the North African kingdom.
Qatar's finance minister said on Monday the world's richest country per capita has the resources to endure and played down the economic toll of the confrontation.
Jurors were sent back to their hotel late Monday night after deliberating for about four hours on the sixth day of the trial.
Cosby is accused of drugging and violating a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in January 2004. Cosby's lawyers have argued that the encounter was consensual.
The 79-year-old comedian is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
A look at the sexual assault charges against Cosby and the punishment he could face if convicted.
What is he accused of?
He is accused of drugging and sexually violating a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Andrea Constand says Cosby gave her pills that made her paralysed and unable to fight him off as he groped her breast and genitals. His lawyers said they were in a romantic relationship and what happened was consensual.
What is he charged with?
Three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault, each covering a different aspect of the alleged crime.
Count 1 alleges that Cosby didn't have consent when he penetrated Constand's genitals with his fingers.
Count 2 alleges she was unconscious or semi-conscious at the time and could not give consent.
Count 3 alleges all this happened after he gave her an intoxicant that substantially impaired her and stopped her from resisting.
How much time could he face?
Each of the three counts carries a standard sentence range of five to 10 years in prison, but that doesn't mean Cosby could be facing up to 30 years.
Legal experts say the sentence for each count should run concurrently under Pennsylvania law since they all cover the same incident and conduct.
That means a conviction would put Cosby in prison at least until he is 84 years old, based on state sentencing guidelines.
Worst case scenario?
Pennsylvania law allows sentencing judges to consider uncharged conduct. In Cosby's case, that means the more than 60 other women who have accused him of assaults dating to the 1960s.
Duquesne University law professor Wes Oliver says those allegations could compel Judge Steven O'Neill to sentence Cosby closer to the 10-year maximum.
Would he have to register as a sex offender?
Yes. If he is convicted, prosecutors say, Cosby would also have to register as a sex offender and face an assessment to determine if he is a sexually violent predator.
Would he be hauled away in handcuffs after the trial?
If convicted, Cosby could remain free until sentencing unless O'Neill revokes his US$1 million bail.
Philadelphia defence lawyer Alan Tauber says that's less likely in Cosby's case because his fame makes him an unlikely flight risk.
The polls were held in the wake of the 1 March 2017 no-confidence vote that was passed by the opposition on the seven parties' coalition government headed by outgoing Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
The Thomas Thabane-headed All Basotho Convention (ABC) emerged the biggest winner, with 47 constituency seats and one proportional representation (PR) seat, bringing their total to 48. The ABC also won three constituencies in which some of the candidates died before the elections.
The constituency elections for the legislature candidates will be held after 90 days from the polls.
Outgoing Prime Minister Mosisili's Democratic Congress obtained 26 constituency seats and four PR seats and outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Metsing's Lesotho Congress for Democracy obtained one constituency seat and 10 PR seats.
Ramaphosa extended his profound congratulations to the people of Lesotho and commended them for conducting peaceful elections.
“We urge all stakeholders to accept the outcome of the peaceful elections as announced by the Independent Electoral Commission and an expression of the democratic will of the people of the kingdom,” he said, adding, the peaceful and credible elections in Lesotho underlined the commitment of the region and the continent to ensuring good governance prevails.
He added that the SADC facilitation mission would pay an official visit to Lesotho soon after the formation of the new government to convene a multi-stakeholder dialogue forum to build consensus for the implementation of SADC decisions.
“These (SADC decisions) will include the implementation of the constitutional and security sector reforms as well as recommendations of the Phumaphi commission of inquiry,” Ramaphosa said.
The Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi-led SADC Commission of Inquiry was set up after outgoing Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili asked them to probe the fatal shooting of former Lesotho defence force commander Maaparankoe Mahao on 25 June 2015, and it carried out its investigations between 31 August and 23 October 2015.
The commission recommended among other things, the dismissal of former army commander Tlali Kamoli, the suspension of LDF officers implicated in cases of murder, attempted murder and treason while investigations into the allegations proceeded in line with international best practice.
After the report was issued, some of Lesotho's international funders including the United States government withheld funding and called on government to speedily implement the SADC recommendations.
Meanwhile, the preliminary statement of the SADC electoral observation missions to Lesotho warned that although Lesotho held peaceful, free and fair polls; general elections were not the solution to Lesotho's political and security problems.
“I am certain you agree with me that given the country's history of elections, the outcome of these elections is just as important as the reform process that is urgently required in the immediate aftermath of the polls to bring stability and inclusiveness that will lead to renewed commitment to political for sustainable development and prosperity of Basotho,” head of the SADC observer mission, Augustine Philip Mahiga said.
All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane is once again set to become Lesotho prime minister, 28 months after handing over power to his Democratic Congress (DC) rival and outgoing premier Pakalitha Mosisili.
A coalition of four parties namely the ABC, the Monyane Moleleki-led Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) announced they had cobbled together their combined 63 seats to form the country's third coalition government after last Saturday's parliamentary elections.
The ABC combined its 48 seats with the AD's nine, BNP's five and the RCL's one, enabling them to pass the 61-seat threshold required to form government in the 120-seat National Assembly.
ABC spokesperson, Tefo Mapesela, said the four parties would notify King Letsie III of their agreement today, to set in motion the process of forming government.
Thabane's return to the premiership is a spectacular comeback for the ABC leader who only returned in February 2017 from exile in South Africa.
He fled the country on 11 May 2015, after alleging a Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) plot to assassinate him for falling out with its command in his first tenure as premier from 2012 to 2014. He was joined in exile by BNP leader, Thesele 'Maseribane and RCL leader Keketso Rantšo on 13 and 26 May 2015 respectively.
The duo also fled the country citing plots to assassinate them by members of the LDF, an accusation the latter has vehemently denied.
Thabane said the incoming government was fully committed to serving the nation and would not harbour any thoughts of vengeance for the hurt they experienced during their time as the opposition.
“We are fully cognisant of our mandate to work tirelessly for peace and stability as well as economic recovery and prosperity.”
He also declared their willingness to work with other political parties as long as they share “the goal of a peaceful and well governed Lesotho” as a first step towards the reunification of Basotho.
He concluded by saying the new government would move quickly on the implementation of security sector reforms, “so that we can protect the security forces from selfish politicians that preserve themselves in power using national institutions such as the LDF and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service”.
In the meanwhile, South Africa's international relations and cooperation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has warned that the country will not tolerate a military coup in Lesotho.
She was asked whether there was concern in South Africa about the military in Lesotho not accepting the result of the election last week, after former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili lost.
“Not in any corner of our [Southern African Development Community], not in any corner of our continent will we ever tolerate a military coup,” she said.
“This was made very, very clear to everyone in Lesotho two weeks ago. They have just had an election a year and a half ago, and they have also undertaken to go back to the reforms [on the role of the police and the military, which have been supporting leaders from opposing parties] which they themselves say has bedevilled focus on governance,” she said.
She also called for closer collaboration with the office of the auditor-general and implored permanent secretaries to submit statements of accounts timeously.
She made the remarks during an address to permanent secretaries in the capital on Monday.
“We all have to contribute actively to this consolidation effort. This, however, does not mean cutting back on expenditure on the most pressing priorities. Instead, we have to realise savings through efficiency gains. As accounting officers, you will have to take the lead and double your efforts to control expenditure within your ministries,” said the Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.
According to her, permanent secretaries often do not adhere to recommendations made by the auditor-general. “The auditor-general's reports point to several areas that require improvements. These include failure by some accounting officers to meet deadlines for submitting statements of accounts or responding to queries during the audit process,” adding, “Several recommendations made by the auditor-general are many times not implemented. This erodes transparency and accountability in administration of public affairs. I need to urge you all to do everything in your power to stick to, address these issues with utmost urgency,” she further said.
She also addressed the high overtime payments. “I personally really do not understand what this overtime is all about that costs us so much money because I thought that we are all fully paid for the work that we are expected to do.” Considering the high government personnel expenditure, she told the permanent secretaries that they will be required to achieve a gradual reduction of personnel and related expenses, including subsistence and travel allowances, and overtime.
She explained that overtime in the public service costs taxpayers a lot of money while they are under-served significantly through the forfeiture of services that people have already been paid for.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila also called on the permanent secretaries to align their respective ministries' strategic plans to the fifth National Development Plan (NDP5). “All offices, ministries and agencies must ensure that their strategic plans are aligned to NDP5 and that there is a functional monitoring and evaluation of the offices, ministries and agencies' NDP5 interventions.”
Expressing her dissatisfaction at the slow pace of decentralisation, she called for closer cooperation with the ministry of urban and rural development. “I am concerned that, the pace of decentralisation in our country is rather slow. Permanent secretaries are required to ensure that all the technical procedural issues for the decentralisation of the identified functions are sorted out so that there is a clear roadmap and timeline for decentralisation of their offices and ministries functions without further delays,” the prime minister said.
The findings of the citizens satisfactory survey would be available at the end of September she said. “Data collection and capture is expected to be completed around the end of August 2017, with the briefing of key stakeholders on the findings of the survey scheduled for the end of September 2017,” she concluded.
Petersen, who was the elder sister to the late deputy prime minister and Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi, died last week from a suspected stroke.
She was 89.
“While guerrilla fighters carried out their missions in Namibia's liberation struggle, they relied on the people who provided rear guard support for the fighters,” said Geingob.
“Mother Alwina Petersen falls in this category. Our comrade mother's hard work, bravery and selfless dedication, helped backstop the pro-liberation efforts of her brother, comrade Hendrik Witbooi and others.”
Petersen has been hailed for playing a leading role in Namibia's general political struggle while serving Swapo's internal wing.
“Her actions exemplified the spirit of the Witbooi clan, following in the footsteps of the iconic Namibian leaders, Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi (!Nanseb).
We are therefore honoured to pay a befitting farewell to a grandmother, mother, sister, freedom fighter and hero of Namibia's liberation struggle.
“As we pay our respect to our fallen mother, let us remember the words of the Lord from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 which read, 'But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus'. Although our hearts are heavy for she is no longer with us, let us have hope. Let us have hope that mother, comrade Alwina Petersen has not only died as a freedom fighter for Namibia but as a fighter for the good of mankind,” Geingob said.
This was in response to a question raised by DTA leader McHenry Venaani who had asked why, despite the country's financial state, defence spending continued unabated in his opinion.
Ya Ndakolo informed Venaani about his ministry's procedures pertaining to its spending activities.
“To answer this question, one would need clarity as to what exactly the honourable member [Venaani] referred to in the ministry of defence's spending that is continuing unabated. The money that is spent on the operations of the ministry of defence is allocated through the national budget and approved by this August house,” Ya Ndakolo told Venaani.
In his response, he further informed Venaani that money channelled to his ministry was spent within limits.
“Defence spending is always done within limits of the allocated and approved budget. As a matter of clarity, the defence budget is prepared and presented before treasury in accordance with defence needs of our country and the allocation is done following the same principle.”
He also defended the secretive nature of his ministry's procurement process.
“Given the sensitivity surrounding the procurement of defence items, specific systems and mechanisms have been put in place to approve defence purchase orders. Depending on the type and magnitude of the order to be placed, Cabinet approval may be sought,” said Ya Ndakolo.
Ya Ndakolo also said that defence procurement was oftentimes a protracted activity.
“I must clarify that defence assets and materials are very expensive and not always readily available on the shelves. It must be remembered that the procurement of weapons is a process that takes many years to complete,” concluded Ya Ndakolo.
The defence budget was cut marginally this year, reducing to N$5.68 billion from N$5.95 billion in the 2016/17 financial year.
The public safety sector was allocated N$12.45 billion (including the ministry of safety and security) and N$38 billion over the medium-term expenditure framework.
The IPPR also recently questioned the defence budget which ranks 12th, globally.
“Serious questions exist around the strategy with regard to its efficiency. In essence, the government's strategy of creating jobs directly, rather than creating an environment for the business sector to create jobs, is sub-optimal,” the IPPR said in an analysis of the 2017/18 national budget in its Democracy Report for the month of May.
This took place during a Wildlife Trafficking Workshop aimed at raising awareness on wildlife crimes and trafficking with Chinese nationals living in Namibia.
The workshop was jointly organised by China's State Forest Administration, China's CITES Management Authority, TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Chinese embassy in Namibia.
According to TRAFFIC the increasingly closer ties between China and Namibia have created opportunities for illegal exploitation of wildlife species, with products smuggled to meet demand in the Chinese market.
The workshop provided an opportunity for Chinese nationals based in Namibia to be made fully aware of the illegality of such activities and the risks of becoming engaged in them.
Tom Milliken, an expert on elephant ivory and rhino horn trade with TRAFFIC spoke about recent trends in the global illegal wildlife trade, in particular trafficking between southern African countries and China.
He also spoke about the scale of ongoing African elephant and rhino poaching triggered by illegal trade in their products.
TRAFFIC staff also provided tips to Chinese nationals on reducing the risk of wildlife trafficking during their international travel and encouraged Chinese enterprises to adopt socially and environmentally responsible policies for conserving local wildlife - for example through buying sustainable souvenirs.
Tommy Nambahu, the deputy environment minister said that in Namibia, the trafficking of wildlife products mainly involves elephant and rhino products.
According to recent statistics, 135 elephant tusks and pieces and 36 rhino horns were captured by authorities in 2016.
Twenty one elephant tusks and four rhino horns were confiscated by the state this year.
“Moreover, this year alone, Namibia has also been implicated in two seizures of rhino horns, effected in South Africa and Hong Kong.”
Nambahu said that the current levels of illegal trade and wildlife trafficking promote corruption, threaten peace and stability, strengthen illicit trade routes and destabilise economies.
“In addition, wildlife trafficking has devastating impacts as it pushes species to the brink of extinction, threatens security, undermines the rule of law and restricts economic development.”
He said that it also robs local communities of their natural resource base, including the economic benefits they derive from the legal sale of wildlife and hunting revenues.
Nambahu further elaborated on the proposed amendments Namibia has made to the current wildlife protection laws to increase the penalties for wildlife crime.
According to these amendments that are at the advanced stage of being approved, those found in possession of controlled wildlife products, should pay N$15 million instead of the current N$20 000, or spend 15 years in jail unlike now when the incarceration period is just five years.
In addition, fines for people who don't comply with the law regulating the possession and selling of wildlife has also been increased from N$8 000 to N$100 000, while jail time will be increased from two to 10 years.
He said that the current penalties for wildlife trade and possession crimes are not sufficient deterrents, especially taking into account that trade and possession often involve foreign kingpins who are able to easily pay their way out of these fines.
The proposed amendments will therefore empower the home affairs ministry to ban entry into Namibia of foreign nationals involved in crimes related to the possession and dealing in elephant and rhino products after they serve their prison terms.
“This was because the majority of culprits found guilty of illegal wildlife trading are foreign nationals.”
During the workshops, local Chinese company representatives pledged to continue raising their staff's awareness about protecting wildlife.
Speaking at the start of a workshop on trafficking in persons at Oshakati, Imalwa said an 11-year-old boy who went missing in Namibia last year was found in South Africa.
In another case, a four-year-old girl went missing in Windhoek and was found in a crate in the back of a truck in the Bwabwata National Park.
“In Rundu, there was a story of a man who wanted to sell his son to any willing buyer. This information fortunately got to the police and he was arrested,” Imalwa said.
The PG's office sought the assistance of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to educate people from various institutions on human trafficking, hence the five-day workshop.
She said global statistics on human trafficking, which reportedly generates billions every year, are “frightening”.
She went on to say according to the United States of America State Department, 600 000 to 800 000 people are trafficked across international borders every year.
“Of these, 80% are female and half are children,” Imalwa pointed out.
Namibia is not immune to this occurrence as the PG said Angolan children below the age of 16 are often found in Namibia without parents or guardians. She said some sell sweets on the streets, while others are employed as housekeepers or cattle herders.
“No child below the age 16 is allowed to enter into Namibia without their parents,” she said.
Participants in the training include social workers, representatives of the Namibian police, immigration, customs and excise and the labour ministry.
They are being trained to understand and detect elements of human trafficking, investigate it and fight it effectively.
UNODC regional capacity building officer, Greenwell Lyempe told the participants his organisation will continue mobilising resources to help Namibia with training.
The police chief Lieutenant-General Sebastian Ndeitunga also attended the workshop.
He told delegates that 25 cases of human trafficking have been recorded from 2010 to date.
Ndeitunga pointed out that six of the 25 trafficking in persons cases recorded by the police are on the court roll pending trial.
“Currently, there is no case pending for the prosecutor-general's decision, while 14 cases are still under investigation,” the police chief told the workshop participants.
Prosecution in another three cases was declined by the prosecutor-general, while one person was convicted and another acquitted.
Ndeitunga said human trafficking is in most cases an organised crime, and in some instances there is a lack of information that such crime is being committed.
“Therefore training such as this one is required to effectively and successfully identify, investigate and prosecute crimes of trafficking in persons.”
He noted that protection of victims of human trafficking requires a multi-disciplinary approach, because one needs to immediately secure victims' personal safety, medical condition and emotional wellbeing.
Ndeitunga stated that victims of human trafficking, as crucial witnesses to the crime, should be provided with assurance that whatever evidence they give against the traffickers will be done under State protection.
David Martin Bezuidenhout, the former cigarette sales representative for the company, is facing a host of fraud and theft charges in cigarette sales involving N$2.5 million.
On Monday, in his defence, he told the court that both the receipts he received for sales and the company receipt book were lost over the years.
He conceded during cross-examination by his lawyer Boris Isaack that under such circumstances he does not have any proof of payments to Indo Atlantic that he made from the sales.
The accused further testified that he signed on the customer copy of the sales invoices he made out to them.
He then received the money and handed it over to the receiving clerks of the company.
Bezuidenhout and Venecia Ann Koning, who was employed as administrative clerks issuing invoices, are both accused of fraud and theft, and theft by false pretence.
The two initially faced 36 counts of the same charges but were acquitted on some after a successful application which found that the State did not prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt. Bezuidenhout now appears on 14 charges of fraud, one count of theft and one of theft by false pretence, while his co-accused Koning is facing 37 charges involving fraud, theft, forgery and theft by false pretence.
The State alleges that the two accused acted with a common purpose between the period October 2006 to August 2007 at Walvis Bay, and defrauded Indo Atlantic.
The accusation is that Koning paid cash amounts into accounts of other customers for whom Bezuidenhout had created false invoices for cigarettes that were never delivered.
According to the evidence, he delivered 1 000 packets of Benson and Hedges Special Mild to the Trust Market, while the retailer was invoiced for 3 000 packs.
Another delivery showed he delivered 6 000 packets of Dunhill King Size and 4 000 Peter Stuyvesant to Walvis Bay Self Service while the customer was invoiced for 14 000 packets of Peter Stuyvesant and 16 000 packets of Dunhill.
The State alleges he stole the excess cigarettes, sold them and pocketed the proceeds.
It is further alleged that Bezuidenhoudt defrauded Indo Atlantic's clients listed as Kuiseb Shop 4 Value, Bargosa Wholesalers, Walvis Bay Self Service, Parade Supermarket, Trust Market, Metro Walvis Bay, Metro Swakopmund, Shoprite U Save, Shoprite/Checkers Walvis Bay, Sentra Portuguese Market, Spar North Rand Henties and Shoprite Swakopmund.
Bezuidenhout explained that normally on demand he would deliver the requested consignment, it would be picked up at the specific shop and he would take the cash from the sale.
The trial continues before Judge Alfred Siboleka.
Advocate Simba Nduna appears for State while the lawyer Titus Ipumbu is in defence of Koning.
One of these herds, consisting of about 26 elephants, has since Friday intruded a farm located about 70km from Outjo on the Khorixas road.
According to Johan Steenkamp, owner of the Landeck farm, the herd of elephants has been causing havoc and damage on his farm since Friday.
However, he is not the only one suffering from damage of this herd, he says. Steenkamp says the neighbouring farm has also suffered damage from this herd.
There are also another three herds causing trouble on other farms in the area. These farms include Wildklip, Damara Mopani, and Vasbyt.
In a radius of about 30km there are four herds of about 100 elephants, explains Steenkamp.
Steenkamp further says that he has been to the offices of the environment ministry at Outjo several times to ask for assistance. According to him the officials told him that while they have enough manpower to send out, there are apparently no vehicles available for them to use.
According to Steenkamp the officials told him that there are only two Land Cruisers, but both these vehicles are in for repairs.
“They showed me this white bakkie and told me that they are not allowed to use that vehicle on gravel roads,” he said.
However, Steenkamp said they were quick to preach to him that he is not allowed to shoot these elephants and what the fines could be if he does.
Steenkamp elaborated on some of the damage he incurred thus far saying that the herd has destroyed game fences at four different places, underground water pipes at a dam on the farm have been destroyed, at a water post a water tank was damaged, and furthermore, normal fencing on the farm was also destroyed.
“This started on Friday and it is now Tuesday, and still no officials have been here, so how long must we wait?” he asked.
According to Steenkamp, about two months ago they experienced the same problems and also incurred major damage.
When contacted for comment the spokesperson of the environment ministry, Romeo Muyunda, said that these are “residential elephants” and the farmers should know that by now. Muyunda said although they received reports last week about the elephants in the area there were no reports about any damage made to the ministry.
According to him a team was already deployed in the area last week Thursday and is monitoring the situation.
He also disputed the fact that vehicles are broken saying that there are vehicles available, but said that the ministry admits that they cannot be everywhere due to limited resources and said farmers should be patient.
Muyunda further appealed that farmers should not create a conflict situation with wildlife and work together with the officials in the field.
However, an official from the Outjo ministerial offices yesterday afternoon told Namibian Sun that a team from Khorixas must still be sent to assist the farmers, but he could not confirm when they would arrive at the farm.
When Namibian Sun enquired about the broken vehicles however, he said that is not actually that the vehicles are broken, but that they were unavailable.
According to him the ministry is busy with a game count and this is receiving first priority and therefore there were no vehicles available.
More than 140 students have been affected by the cancellation of these courses.
Approximately 200 students marched from Cota's Katutura campus to the higher education ministry's head office to hand over a petition with their demands.
Steve Angula, a Student Representative Council (SRC) member at Cota, said the cancellation of classes at their college affected a lot of students and called on the ministry to prioritise their educational field of study.
“These students come from different regions and have to travel far with money that they do not have. How is it possible budget cuts have affected our education to such an extent? Is this what Harambee calls for? I don't think so. What will happen to the future? It is quite disturbing that the same government that advocates for the empowerment of Namibian children through education cannot fulfil its promise of quality and inclusive education,” said Angula.
He demanded that the government treat their college like other institutions of higher education such as the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) and the University of Namibia (Unam).
“Other tertiary instructions should also follow suit and their courses should also be suspended,” said Angula.
The student leader requested the education ministry to recognise Cota as an institution of higher education under the mandate of the higher education ministry.
He further demanded that classes commence on Monday, 19 June.
Bobby Iita, a second-year television and broadcasting student at Cota said the cancellation of courses disappointed not only him but also his parents because he had to convince them to study at the college.
“My parents did not want me to study media at this college but they relented and now they are disappointed about the cancellation of courses,” shared Iita.
Anna Penavali, a third-year radio production student said that she wants classes to resume at the college.
“They need to get us back in classes as soon as possible. We spent a lot of money and travelled long distances only to receive letters telling us we cannot continue our classes due to budget cuts,” said Penavali.
The SRC for academic affairs at Nust, Paulus Kalenga, who was also present at the march, said if the education ministry did not meet the student's demands they will camp outside its headquarters until such a time their demands are met. “The ministry must tell us the truth about what is happening and if they do not reach our proposal we will sleep at their offices,” warned Kalenga.
Sanet Steenkamp, permanent secretary in the education ministry received the petition and assured the students that they would respond to their demands.
“Your petition is well received. It is addressed to the minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa and we will make sure she receives it. We will respond to you after deliberation with executive management,” said Steenkamp.
The students have given the education ministry until today to respond to their demands or they will protest outside the education ministry's office until their demands are met.
The 46-year-old woman, Hongyin Jia, allegedly arrested at the Hosea Kutako International Airport as she was coming back from a foreign trip, after a brief appearance, was granted N$500 000 bail. Chinese nationals paid the bail amount in cash.
The five other accused who earlier appeared before the court are the millionaire businessman Yuigua Haung, also known as Jack Huang, who is free on N$1 million bail, Tao Huizhong, Jinrong Huang, and Julius Laurentius who were each granted N$1.5 million bail and Zhu Honggang, who is out on N$500 000 bail.
Zhu is the owner of Glory Building Material Supply in Ondangwa and is said to be a Namibian national.
Jack Huang was arrested at Hosea Kutako International Airport before he could board a plane for Angola, where he allegedly has numerous business interests. Though he was ordered to hand over all his travel documents to the investigating officer in the case, Huang must ask permission from the investigating officer if he wishes to travel abroad.
He is accused of fraud and of contravening section 6 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, which deals with the acquisition, possession or use of the proceeds of crime.
Laurentius is the owner of the company Extreme Clearance Services at operating at Walvis Bay. It was alleged that he committed the N$3.5-billion fraud and tax evasion through the company and consequently his assets were frozen.
However, last week he succeeded with a court order allowing him to be at liberty to utilise his accounts at Nedbank, First National Bank, Bank Windhoek and Capricorn Asset Management as he deems appropriate for 90 days.
The seven people together are accused of tax evasion, fraud and money laundering involving N$3.5 billion.
During the appearance of the first three suspects Huizhong, Jinrong Huang, and Laurentius, the State informed that there were 27 more persons of interest to be traced and added to the case.
The recommended stringent bail conditions by the Control State Prosecutor Hans Tourob were granted by the court.
Jia who resides at Oshikango may not leave the town without the knowledge of the unit commander at that town and the investigating officer, Commissioner Shimutukweni, in Windhoek.
She must also report every Wednesday between 15:00 and 17:00 to the police station and must hand over her travel documents to the investigating officer.