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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

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  • 06/13/17--16:00: Land threats stir fear
  • Land threats stir fearLand threats stir fearFarmers in panic over ancestral land rights Recent public pronouncements on ancestral land rights appear to have unsettled commercial farmers in the country. The highly emotional topic of land redistribution has sent commercial farmers into panic and fear that they might lose their land.

    The issue of ancestral land claims has become a highly controversial topic in recent years, with independent groupings putting government under pressure to speed up the land reform process.

    The executive manager of the Namibia Agricultural Union, Sakkie Coetzee, expressed concern over the upcoming land conference and the discussion of ancestral land claims that could be made on large tracts of land, which include private farms.

    Referring to the upcoming land conference where ancestral land claims will also be under the spotlight, Coetzee said it was made clear at the first conference that such claims would not enjoy any consideration.

    Swapo parliamentarian and former land reform deputy minister Bernadus Swartbooi last weekend threatened to take the livestock of landless people to President Hage Geingob's farm if government does not address the land issue.

    “If that is not a blatant threat to the President, I don't know what is,” said Coetzee, who was speaking at the Annual Congress of the Agricultural Employers' Association.

    Coetzee, however, told delegates that the fact is they may find themselves with ancestral claims to their land. “It can be that it is your land which the claimant wants,” he added.

    The Landless People's Movement has succeeded in forcing government to discuss the issue of ancestral land claims at the highly anticipated second land conference due to take place in September.

    Swartbooi has used meetings organised by the group to demand for land redistribution.

    The youthful Swartbooi was fired last year by Geingob after calling his senior Utoni Nujoma an idiot in the National Assembly. He also blasted Nujoma for having failed the landless of the south.





    Labour relations



    Meanwhile, the farmer's conference further discussed labour relations on farms, with Coetzee saying although there are still some problems in the sector, generally relations have improved.

    It was noted that the past year was marked by peace and stability with regards to labour relations on commercial farms with disputes.

    Coetzee said in comparison to other sectors, labour cases on farms are reported on minimally.

    “The conflicts in the sector have decreased and relationships have really improved,” he said.

    However, Coetzee said that are still improvements that can be made and referred to the call made by Geingob on the farmers to improve facilities for farmworkers.

    From the floor one of the delegates expressed her shock and dismay at the living standards that some farmworkers still have to endure.

    She described the housing provided to some farmworkers as shocking, saying that there are no toilets or showers.

    “There are still farmers that are not abiding by the law.”

    Coetzee went said if farmers want to retain workers on farms they need to look into the social needs of their employees, retirement options and also promotions.

    The chairperson of the Agricultural Employer's Association, Christina Stoman, said although commercial farmers are trying to negotiate an increased minimum wage for farmworkers, communal farmers do not want to come to the negotiating table.

    Stoman said that this would be discussed further during the congress later this year.

    The mandate was given for an increased minimum wage during the 2016 congress however the negotiations failed when Namibia National Farmers' Union (NNFU) refused further negotiations.

    Although several attempts to communicate further were made, the union did not respond.

    The Agricultural Employer's Association therefore decided that due to the drought and the poor economic situation that it would not announce a one-sided minimum wage for its members.

    Meanwhile, Stoman said the Directorate of Veterinary Service (DVS) is failing in creating a profitable and environment for producers.

    “Many DVS offices are struggling with no electricity due to unpaid bills. It is struggling to maintain the Veterinary Cordon Fence because people are not being paid S&T. Hence we the producers are missing out on the enabling environment that should be in place for food production.”

    She said that this is just one example in the government and that public servants in many departments are extremely lax at answering phones and correspondence.

    “So often their service amounts to nothing. It is the role of the government to provide an enabling environment. Suppose we stop doing our jobs… there will be no meat and no grain. And no employment for 23% of the country's population.”



    ELLANIE SMIT

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    Omangundu: Where it all started for AndimbaOmangundu: Where it all started for Andimba The late struggle icon Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo lived by the saying, 'never forget where you come from'.

    Namibian Sun visited Omangundu village in the Oshikoto Region where he was born 92 years ago. The community of Omangundu shared fond memories of the late freedom fighter, saying they will always remember him for the good deeds he did for the locals, including numerous donations and visits to Oshilungi Combined School.

    Omangundu senior headman Simon Nuule remembers Ya Toivo as a humble and peace-loving boy during his childhood. Pointing to the exact area where Ya Toivo was born, the 90-year-old Nuule said his parents later moved to Onayena where Ya Toivo completed his primary education.

    “Back then there were no hospitals and that's why he was born there (pointing towards a mahangu field studded with manketti trees). It was there where his parents stayed before they moved to that side of Onayena,” that Nuule said.

    He added that the local community was very proud of what Ya Toivo achieved.

    Nuule said it was because of Ya Toivo's efforts that the Oshilungi Combined School, which is a stone's throw from where he was born, has computers and books in its library and is a symbol of the struggle icon's special connection with the village.





    “If you go to that school, there are a lot of computers and it's the big man, Ya Toivo.” Principal Esther Nanyanga said Ya Toivo was the patron of the school and last visited them about two years ago. She said when Ya Toivo visited the school, or when he came with a donation, he would encourage the learners and community members to always value their culture.

    “He used to urge the young ones to stick to their culture, to respect the elders and always reminded them not to forget where they come from,” Nanyanga said. “He would tell the learners he was born in this village as a way of making them understand that a person's future is not determined by where they come from.” The anti-apartheid activist and one of the founders of Swapo died last Friday at his home in Windhoek.



    Hero of the people

    Meanwhile, tributes continue to pour in for Ya Toivo, with retired politician Dirk Mudge, former army chief Martin Shalli and former prime minister Nahas Angula remembering the great Ya Toivo. Mudge, the former chairman of the DTA, said he had made submissions to Pretoria for the release of Ya Toivo from Robben Island.

    In a telephonic interview, Mudge expressed regret over the border war. “He was captured in the north of Namibia. The war by the South African Defence Force in the north of Namibia and the south of Angola was a big mistake and caused a lot of trouble. Far too many people died unnecessarily in that war.”

    He recalled Ya Toivo as a respected opponent and later, a good friend. “I had a lot of respect and appreciation for him, both as an opponent and as a friend,” he said. Former military chief Shalli said Ya Toivo was a true warrior for freedom and peace.

    “Andimba believed in the power of his countrymen to resist oppression and ultimately sacrifice to bring about independence as echoed in his several famous statements, which I shall not repeat here. Those were his inspiring words and words will linger on for a very long time,” he said. Angula said Ya Toivo's personal commitment to the independence of Namibia is legendary.

    “He lost his job in Cape Town. He lost his business in Ondangwa. His adult life was spent in prison. But he never claimed glory or political power after Namibia's independence. His humanity and humility is extraordinary. His life is a celebration,” said Angula.



    Funeral arrangements

    Ya Toivo's remains will be flown to Ondangwa for a memorial service to be held at the Onguta Lutheran church this Friday.

    The Nelson Mandela Foundation has announced it will also host a memorial service in honour of Ya Toivo today in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    A state memorial service will be held next week Friday (23 June) followed by the burial at Heroes Acre Saturday.

    All flags will be flown at half-mast from Wednesday 21 June until Saturday, 24 June.

    Ya Toivo is survived by his wife, Vicki and twin daughters Mutaleni and Nashikoto.





    KENYA KAMBOWE

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    Namibia register Nations Cup winNamibia register Nations Cup win Namibia today beat Emerging Italy 38-22 in the first round of the World Rugby Nations Cup 2017 taking place in Uruguay. Namibia lost their first game against Spain 15-13 last week Saturday.
    STAFF REPORTER



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    SA banks, insurers downgradedSA banks, insurers downgradedSouth African banks, insurers suffer downgrade by Moody's Five of South Africa's biggest lenders and four insurance firms have been downgraded by Moody's following a decision by the ratings agency to downgrade South Africa's debt stock. A shadow of doubt hangs South Africa's financial sector following a recent downgrade of its biggest lenders and insurers as well as state-owned entity, Eskom.

    Ratings agency Moody's downgraded five of South Africa's largest banks and four insurers with a negative outlook after the country's credit rating was downgraded last week.

    Moody's' actions now leave the ratings of all five banks and four insurances on par with that of South Africa.

    The long-term local and foreign currency deposit ratings of Standard Bank, FirstRand, Absa Bank, Nedbank and Investec Bank were downgraded to Baa3 on Monday, one notch above non-investment grade.

    The ratings agency also downgraded Standard Bank's long-term local and foreign currency issuer ratings to Ba1 from Baa3.

    Moody's said the primary reason for the downgrade was weakening credit and macro profile of the South African government exerting pressure on banks in what it said was a challenging operating environment characterised by a pronounced economic slowdown.

    The agency downgraded other South African banks to one notch above sub-investment grade, including the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa and the Land and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa.

    Moody's also downgraded the debt ratings of South African insurance groups on Monday. Old Mutual Life Assurance Company and MMI Group were lowered to Baa2 from Baa1 while Guardrisk and Standard Insurance dropped to Baa3 from Baa2. All were given a negative outlook.

    South Africa's credit rating was downgraded by Moody's on Friday, citing a recent cabinet reshuffle and reduced growth prospects for an economy mired in recession.

    Power utility Eskom also suffered a ratings downgrade.

    “Given Eskom's strong linkage with the South African government and its high sensitivity to changes in the sovereign credit profile, the rating downgrades primarily reflect the one-notch downgrade of South Africa's ratings to Baa3 negative,” Moody's said in a statement.

    “The negative outlook reflects the negative outlook on the government of South Africa,” it said.

    NAMPA/REUTERS

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  • 06/14/17--16:00: Scoping for biomass begins
  • Scoping for biomass beginsScoping for biomass beginsCommissioning planned for 2020 A scoping study to establish the viability of a 20 megawatt (MW) biomass plant has begun while the environmental process for the construction of the first ever biomass plant is envisaged to be completed in November. Initial environmental studies related to the potential construction of a 20 megawatt (MW) biomass power plant by NamPower started recently and is due to be completed in November this year.

    Providing an update of its intended biomass project, its spokesperson, Tangeni Kambangula said that NamPower would be studying the environmental and social impacts of the project.

    “NamPower is currently busy with scoping studies to determine the impacts of an envisaged 20 megawatt biomass plant it plans to have operational by 2020,” said Kambangula.

    The power utility identified six sites namely, the Gerus and Ohorongo substations near Otjiwarongo, the Auas substation near Windhoek, the Osona substation near Okahandja, the Otjikoto substation near Tsumeb and the Omaere substation near Gobabis.

    “As a first phase to the encroacher bush biomass power project in Namibia, NamPower plans to erect a power plant at one of the six potential sites. NamPower is currently busy with the scoping phase, to assess the environmental and social impacts of the six potential sites, Kambangula told Namibian Sun.

    “As the project is still in feasibility phase, it is too soon to have exact and specific details; however NamPower aims to fund the development of the first power plant. Construction time of a biomass plant of 20MW is typically 24 months,” Kambangula said.

    She did not indicate when NamPower would make a decision on the project. “As the final investment decision is still to be made, we are currently planning for a commercial and operation date by 2020,” she concluded.

    OGONE TLHAGE

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    Epangelo committed to its mandateEpangelo committed to its mandate Epangelo Mining remains committed to fulfilling the mandate that it was created for. This is despite the fact that government's mining house has not received significant funding from government to carry out its activities.

    The miner this week laid its books bare for the first time ever, presenting its unaudited statements for its financial year ended 31 March 2014.

    Its income statement showed a total net comprehensible loss of N$9.8 million. “The financial results for the year 2013/14 indicate that the company was able to meet its operational requirements, however the company has still not been capitalised, save for operational funding by government,” said MD Eliphas Hawala.

    According to Hawala, Epangelo was actively enticing developers to partner with it for prospective projects. “We have been pursuing a stance that encourages investors to take Epangelo as the local strategic equity partner.”

    He also implored government to formalise its local participation policy which applies what the conditions for local and foreign investors for minerals.

    “We believe government should complement our stance by clearly spelling out a local participation policy which applies specific policies for local and foreign investment and incentives in the mineral industry. Such a policy should include identification of certain minerals to be declared and how such minerals should be treated,” said Hawala.

    Epangelo's chairperson, acting Air Namibia MD Ellaine Samson voiced Epangelo's intention to serve the purpose it was created for. “Epangelo has acquired 37 licenses to date. The plan is to conduct exploration work with our strategic partners on these licenses in order to develop them into ore reserves, up to stages where they can be mined for their minerals, thus keeping us in line with our mandate,” she said.

    Epangelo acquired a 10% stake in Swakop Uranium, owners of the Husab mine, and are engaged in a range of exploratory work which include strategic partnerships to Vedanta Resources where it has prospected for zinc north of Grootfontein while it has been offered a 10% stake in Reptile Uranium's Shiyela project which is the second biggest iron ore discovery locally after Lodestone. It also owns a 10% stake in the water-drenched Kombat mine following a formal approach by Manila Investment Group.

    OGONE TLHAGE

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  • 06/14/17--16:00: Credit slowdown welcomed
  • Credit slowdown welcomedCredit slowdown welcomedConsumers urged to invest, businesses to take up loans The slow-down in private sector credit extended has been welcomed by the Bank of Namibia said governor Iipumbu Shiimi. Bank of Namibia governor Iipumbu Shiimi has welcomed the slow-down in credit extended to the private sector. He made the comments during the announcement of the repo rate which was maintained at 7%, saying that it was a welcome sign that lesser loans were being taken up.

    Growth in private sector credit extended slowed during the first four months of 2017, with the average rate slowing 8.6%. “The rate at which credit is growing is at a slower speed. It's a significant slowdown.”

    He also encouraged businesses to take advantage of low interest rates, telling them that it was the most opportune time. “For businesses, our message is clear, this is the right time to take up credit and invest as interest rates are at historical lows. For individuals, the slowdown is a welcome development, it is the time to save. Let's not take up debt, it is unwelcome for us and it is unwelcome for the economy,” said Shiimi.

    On the currency reserve front, import coverage grew to 3.7 months. This was encouraging to Shiimi saying that he wanted the trend to continue. “We have seen an inflow of funds especially from institutional investors. It's a trend that we would like to see continuing,” said Shiimi.

    He also expressed worry at slowed growth in South Africa. “South Africa's recession is not good news for us. We would like to see South Africa getting better because it is in our own interest. Any negative performance is something of concern to us,” he said.

    Despite South Africa's recession and potential downturn in economic activities, Shiimi was optimistic that this year would be better. “We are busy finalising our outlook numbers. What is important to point out is that 2017 will be better than 2016. We should finalise our growth estimates roundabout June,” said Shiimi.

    Commenting on Moody's' decision to downgrade four of South Africa's biggest lenders, Shiimi said that it was still too early to tell what the consequences of would be on the local banking sector. Nedbank, Standard Bank and FNB drew the ire of Moody's which resulted in a downgrade this week. “We don't see the impact on the banks here, we don't see negative consequences at the moment,” he said.

    He also cautioned car dealerships to toe the line in light of amendments to the Credit Agreement Act which now requires a minimum deposit of 10% on vehicle purchases.

    “Dealers are entitled to reward incentives as long as they do not violate the law. Any incentive given is not something that concerns us,” he concluded.

    The central bank's monetary policy committee meets again on 15 August to deliberate on repo rate matters.

    OGONE TLHAGE

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    Refugees win landmark lawsuitRefugees win landmark lawsuitAsylum-seekers in Australia take home multimillion dollar payout The almost 2 000 refugees at Manus Island in Papua New Guinea have won millions in compensation for inhumane treatment. Detainees at an Australian asylum-seeker camp in Papua New Guinea won millions of dollars in compensation for “degrading and cruel” treatment Wednesday, in a decision hailed as an important human rights victory.

    Abuse, self-harm and mental health problems are reportedly rife in offshore processing centres, with detainees resorting to desperate protests like sewing their own lips together to raise awareness of their plight.

    Wednesday's Aus$70 million (US$53 million) conditional settlement, to be shared by 1 905 people who have been held on Manus Island since 2012, averted a public trial against the government and security providers Transfield and G4S.

    A class action had sought damages for what claimants said was suffering due to the harsh conditions in which they were held.

    It also called for a payout for false imprisonment after the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruled last year that holding asylum-seekers on Manus Island was unconstitutional and illegal.

    Law firm Slater and Gordon said they believed it was the largest human rights class action settlement in Australian history, with the defendants also agreeing to pay more than Aus$20 million in costs.

    “The people detained on Manus Island have endured extremely hostile conditions, but they will no longer suffer in silence,” said the firm's Andrew Baker.

    “While no amount of money could fully recognise the terrible conditions the detainees endured, we hope today's settlement can begin to provide them with an opportunity to help put this dark chapter of their lives behind them.”

    The Manus detention facility opened in 2012 to hold people trying to enter Australia by boat, under a tough immigration policy that sends them offshore to be processed.

    They are blocked from resettling in Australia even if found to be refugees.

    Conditions in the camp, and another one on Nauru in the Pacific, have been widely criticised by refugee advocates and medical professionals, with reports of maltreatment and neglect, leading to serious health problems.

    Amnesty International called the decision “historic” and “a major crack in the Australian government's crumbling system of abuse”.

    “It must be a turning point towards a better solution for refugees - one that is grounded in protection, not abuse,” said Amnesty Pacific researcher Kate Schuetze.

    Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the payout was not an admission of liability, but to avoid a costly six-month trial.

    “In such circumstances a settlement was considered a prudent outcome for Australian taxpayers,” he said in a statement.

    “The Commonwealth strongly refutes and denies the claims made in these proceedings. Settlement is not an admission of liability in any regard.”

    Slater and Gordon lawyer Rory Walsh said the government and its contractor's defence “was that it was the PNG authorities doing the imprisoning and detaining and not them”.

    “The denial of liability allows the Commonwealth and the defendants to run those positions in any other cases and maintain that position,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

    Lead plaintiff Majid Kamasaee, an Iranian, welcomed the settlement as an overdue acknowledgement of the suffering he and others endured.

    “This case is not just about me, it is about every person who has been trapped on Manus Island,” said Kamasaee, who was held there for 11 months

    “I left my home in Iran in 2013 because of religious persecution and I came to Australia seeking peace, but I was sent to Manus, which was hell.

    “The way we were treated at the Manus Island detention centre was degrading and cruel.”

    While the Manus camp needs to close following the PNG court decision, Dutton has made clear those housed there would not be moved to Australia but instead relocated to third countries such as the United States and Cambodia, or resettled in PNG.

    The government has not revealed any plans to shut down the Nauru facility.

    NAMPA/AFP

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  • 06/14/17--16:00: Shot of the day
  • Shot of the dayShot of the day BLESSINGS: Pope Francis kisses a child as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican yesterday. Photo: NAMPA/AFP

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  • 06/14/17--16:00: Reprioritise budget cuts
  • Reprioritise budget cutsReprioritise budget cuts State funding towards education has regrettably declined and the austerity measures undertaken by government are biting hard. It is not only education that is hard hit by government budget cuts; other sectors are also feeling the pinch. These austerity measures now threaten children and the poverty stricken. Government is clearly struggling to expand its fiscal space to promote socio-economic development across the country. In the area of education it is lamentable that the sector finds itself in ruins. Government has already announced in April that subsidies to learners at public schools would be cut by 50% from N$500 to N$250 per learner. This ruthless undertaking threatens the quality of education, especially the most vulnerable, our children, who are not privileged enough to be enrolled at private schools. News that government through the ministry of education, has mercilessly decided to shut down the media department at the College of the Arts is lamentable and sad, to say the least. The future of the over 140 students is now in jeopardy and they will most likely end up on the streets with no training opportunities. The students marched this week against the cancellation of classes at the college, saying it affected many of them, before calling on the ministry to prioritise their education. It is unbelievable that government has turned education and the poor people of this country into the sacrificial lamb of its budget cuts. The government's position is indefensible and there is an urgency to seriously reconsider these budget cuts and reprioritise. Government's priority should be to educate the Namibian child and not venture into the business of lowering its priorities to the detriment of our Namibian citizens. The budget roller-coaster has now become a pattern in our country and key areas such as education and healthcare must receive utmost priority to promote the well-being of all the citizens of our country without favour, instead of channelling billions into the defence budget. It is the core function of the authorities, mandated by the citizens of Namibia, to ensure that our colleges, universities, schools and health systems are functional and well-funded with the money provided by citizen taxpayers and to avoid unacceptable blunders of this magnitude.

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    More milestones for Namport More milestones for Namport The Namibian Port Authority (Namport) celebrated the completion of the reconstruction of the Omanda tug boat at a cost of N$25 million, as well as the reconstruction of the small craft quay wall project that cost the authority N$35 million.

    The launch was held at Walvis Bay on Tuesday. Port engineer Elzevir Gelderbloem said this was a clear indication that Namibia and Namport in particular, have the capacity to implement and complete such projects without foreign expertise.

    According to Gelderbloem, Namport invested close to N$180 million in marine service infrastructure in the 2016/17 financial year alone due to the two projects and the construction of a new tug boat currently underway in Spain.

    The small craft harbour which was constructed in 1983, serves as the base of operations of the Namport Marine Division. It consists of a quay wall jetty where all port authority tug boats and other floating craft, as well as the crew, are permanently stationed.

    Gelderbloem explained that the quay wall started showing signs of structural instability soon after it was built and said that Namport tried on several occasions during the past 30 years to patch repair the structure with all kinds of makeshift solutions.

    “Several incidents of sinkholes occurred at the back of the wall due to sand leakage. Eight years ago, the quay wall started showing signs of severe structural failure when its cope line began to curve outwards by as much as 300mm due to corrosion and failure of the steel tie rods,” the engineer explained.

    Namport appointed WML Consulting engineers to conduct a comprehensive independent structural assessment. The company found that the structure completely failed and that any attempt to rehabilitate it would be extremely costly and very risky. The best course of action in terms of technical and cost was to rebuild the structure. Shoreline Construction was appointed in March 2016 to execute the task.

    The Omanda tug boat ran aground and sank next to Merlus jetty while operating in the fishing harbour on 13 January 2015. Investigations established that the accident happened because two navigational buoys on the edge of the fishing channel were out of position which resulted in the tug sailing over the edge of the channel embankment. When this happened, the hull of Omanda was damaged causing the vessel take in water and it sank.

    Gelderbloem explained that the vessel was salvaged and re floated after minor repairs by Subtech Diving and Marine on 21 January 2015. The insurance assessment concluded that the vessel was a write off.

    “Namport purchased the wreck with the intention to rebuild or refurbish it since the hull of the Omanda was still in a very good condition. A similar new tug boat costs approximately N$60 million whereas the refurbishment project only cost Namport N$25 million.”

    According to Gelderbloem, Namport felt that it had the local capacity in Walvis Bay to implement a refurbishment of this scale and the project has proven Namport’s idea. More than 16 contractors, suppliers and consultants worked on the project from 1 June 2015 to 30 April 2017. Upon its successful execution, the final bollard test result showed the tug has a capacity of 33.5 tons. The refurbishment also resulted in the life of the Omanda which was constructed in 1975 to be extended by at least 15 years.



    OTIS FINCK

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    Blocked drains cause stink in Walvis Blocked drains cause stink in Walvis Residents to meet local authority today For some eight months, residents along the lagoon in Walvis Bay say they have been struggling with backed-up drains and toilets. Fed up Walvis Bay residents from the Lagoon area are meeting with the municipality’s sewage team today in the hopes of finally resolving recurrent problems of blocked drains and abnormally high sewage levels, which began nearly eight months ago.

    Residents say the problem has become unbearable and needs to urgently be resolved.

    Since November last year, many of the affected households have flushed thousands of Namibian dollars down the drain in private attempts to fix the problem and handle the sewage overflow to no avail.

    A lagoon area home owner, who preferred to speak anonymously, told Namibian Sun this week: “It just never stops. And it’s not just the toilets. It’s the drains in the kitchen and the bathroom too. They get filled up at least twice a week. I’ve spent thousands on drain cleaners and I personally have hired two plumbers to investigate the problem, but they say they can’t do anything, that it is the municipality’s problem.”

    Frustrated residents say that although the municipality has repeatedly stated that they are working “tirelessly to reduce the levels of sewage” and are “exploring options to find a permanent situation”, these statements no longer hold water.

    The municipality has been regularly praised for quickly responding to complaints of new blockages, and for sending pump trucks and technicians to help, but many say the problem has persisted for far too long and needs to be solved urgently.

    Others have raised concerns about health.

    “It’s an absolute mess with the toilets and drains over-flowing and clogged up. And it is unhealthy,” a resident informed the municipality in May.

    Homeowners have also been frustrated that the municipality has also at times informed residents that the municipality is responsible to clear blockages in the sewer mains, but will charge a fee to unblock drainage systems on private property.

    Enough is enough

    In numerous mails sent to municipal technicians and department heads over the past few months, the mounting frustration with the on-going problem, the lack of solutions and explanations, are noticeable.

    “That is it. We have begged, we have crawled, we have spent money on plumbers, and we are spending money on flushing toilets, four to five times a day. It is over now. We as residents of the lagoon area are fed-up with the situation,” an affected resident told the municipality last week in written correspondence.

    Following increasing calls for the town to fix the problem as well as recent media enquiries, the municipality has arranged to meet with all affected residents at a meeting with department heads and technicians today.

    Homeowners were informed that the meeting will include a “mini tour where the general manager heading the responsible department, John Esterhuizen, will give an elaborate overview and technical details pertaining to the situation.”

    It is unclear how many households have been affected by the on-going problem, but a resident said that he knows of at least eight to nine households that have experienced regular drain blockages, and that more homes could be experiencing similar problems.

    Although those who spoke to Namibian Sun live mostly in the central parts of the town and the lagoon area, sources yesterday said they have also heard complaints from residents in other areas, including Narraville, who too have struggled with sewage and drain blockages in their neighbourhoods.

    Walvis Bay responds

    The municipality this week confirmed the problem, admitting that the town has “experienced higher than normal sewer levels in the lagoon area and at the sewage collection point at the pump station.”

    Spokesperson Anita Kaihiva said private residences as well as “key sewer collectors from food establishments are also blocked and or restricted due to fat or oil traps not being cleaned regularly.”

    Kaihiva told Namibian Sun that the delays in fixing problems can be lined to the origin of blockages not being found or that drain systems are not cleaned early enough. She said however that blockages have been found and removed “in the biggest area” of the town and sewer levels have thus subsided.

    She explained further that overall maintenance of the sewage system in Walvis Bay is challenging because the town “is quite flat and the sewer system is below sea level in many places.”

    Moreover, because the town’s infrastructure is quite old, especially in the older suburbs, a sewer master plan was approved by council “that addresses the refurbishment of the old system to cope with the growth of the town as well.”

    She said work has already commenced in the most critical areas, and the lagoon area, from where most of the complaints arise at the moment, is scheduled for rehabilitation and repair too.

    As part of tackling the sewage-related issues, municipal teams have conducted “on-going cleaning of the sewer systems and the improvement of the current pump capacity in town to take sewage away at a faster rate,” she said.

    In the long term “a new pump station or upgrade of the current collection and pumping system” is on the cards. She said in this regard the municipality has budgeted to begin work on investigating and designing possible new systems.

    JANA-MARI SMITH

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    Namibia’s anti-graft strategy needs tweakingNamibia’s anti-graft strategy needs tweaking A number of flaws identified in Namibia’s anti-corruption strategy and action plan have raised questions about the effectiveness of the plan, which could further dent the already low trust Namibians have in the authorities to effectively fight graft.

    A recently published expert analysis said the 2016 to 2019 Namibian anti-corruption strategy and action plan, which was launched last year, has been issued at a time “when the fight against corruption seems to have stalled”.

    The briefing paper, compiled by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), warns that in recent years public sentiment has increasingly become pessimistic about the rise of, and the fight against, corruption in Namibia.

    The IPPR report includes a number of recommendations that advise on how some tweaks to the current strategy could boost the potential of the strategy to improve anti-corruption measures and restore public trust.

    “While the anti-corruption strategy and action plan contains many worthwhile initiatives and ideas, its implementation is far from guaranteed,” the IPPR cautioned, listing several elements in the current strategy that could weaken or render the plan worthless.

    A major concern is that “the strategy does little to inspire faith that it will be effectively monitored and evaluated,” Max Weylandt, author of the briefing paper, wrote.

    He said the lack of a monitoring and evaluation strategy in the plan “raises concerns that progress will not be thoroughly assessed, and implementation therefore hampered.”

    The briefing paper emphasises the critical need for the people in charge of implementing the strategy to “know what is working and what is not, so they can adjust the plan for maximum efficiency.”

    Moreover, the absence of baselines against which progress can be measured, could hamper a realistic overview of the success of the plan.

    Contrary to UN guidelines, the plan was drafted without first analysing the current corruption levels in the country.

    “A lack of analysis hampers the strategy from the beginning,” Weylandt wrote.

    The analysis also indicates that “neither the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) or the steering committee tasked with implementing the strategy have much real power to ensure the strategy is carried out effectively.”

    There are “serious concerns” whether the institutions tasked with carrying out a number of actions in the plan “will carry out the tasks they are supposed to. Many were not involved in the process of drafting the document, and therefore have little ‘buy-in’ from the get-go.”

    The ACC assured the IPPR that the institutions involved are “are under obligation to implement the strategy” because the anti-corruption policy mechanism was approved by Cabinet.

    The IPPR, however, points out that this argument has been specifically addressed by the United Nations anti-corruption experts, after many countries based their anti-corruption campaigns on the “assumption that high-level support from the head of government would suffice to ensure effective and coordinated implementation of the strategy.”

    This strategy has rarely been successful in the long term, the UN found.

    Moreover, the briefing paper stresses concerns around the unrealistic timelines contained in the action plan.

    “The current document condemns actors to failure. Several deadlines have already passed, and it seems more will follow. This risks that the entire process will soon be untethered from the schedule, threatening to unravel further.”

    Public trust declines

    According to a 2014 Afrobarometer survey, 63% of Namibians felt corruption had increased “a lot” and Namibians indicated that they increasingly believe that “government cannot stem the tide in the fight against corruption”.

    A 2012 Afrobarometer survey also found that 43% felt that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) “avoids politically important suspects”.

    ACC’s own survey from 2016 found that only 31% of Namibians “though that corruption had decreased since the inception of the authority”.

    To-do list

    While the IPPR found the anti-corruption strategy document “is a solid document” in many regards, the concerns raised could be addressed in a number of ways.

    The steering committee must create a monitoring and evaluation plan as a matter of urgency, the briefing paper suggests.

    Moreover, the IPPR recommends that because cabinet has signed off on the plan “it should not be too difficult to convince ministers and heads of agencies and offices to publicly agree to carrying out the plan.”

    The IPPR has also appealed to civil society and the Namibian public to take ownership of the plan and to help ensure the success of the plan by acting as watchdogs and calling on government to implement the plan properly.

    JANA-MARI SMITH

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    Farmers continue to demand market access Farmers continue to demand market access The eighth congress of the Namibia National Farmers’ Union (NNFU) that took place in Opuwo in the Kunene Region over the weekend has elected a new leadership that will lead the union for communal farmers for the next three years.

    A northern farmer and businessman, Jason Emvula, who served as commodity coordinator in the Oshana Regional Farmers’ Union, was elected as the new president of the NNFU. He takes over from Tobias Emvula also from the Oshana union.

    NNFU members from affiliate regional bodies in 13 regions came together in Opuwo to discuss issues affecting communal farmers. Farmers were also afforded an opportunity to consult with stakeholders on Friday before elections on Saturday. Lack of access to functioning and lucrative markets, especially in the northern communal areas, and a need for local produce consumption were the key issues that dominated the discussions.

    NNFU executive director Mwilima Mushokobanji spoke to Namibian Sun this week.

    He said that before the congress and election, information sharing with stakeholders was conducted.

    “Farmers from 13 regions, excluding Khomas, attended the session which has allowed organisations in the farming sector to share their strategy and policies with farmers. The aim is to bring good governance and make farming easier, especially for communal farmers,” Mushokobanji said.

    He said that information-sharing was crucial for communal farmers who do not have a title deed for their land. He added that it is difficult for these farmers to access financial assistance.

    “We also deliberated the issue of creating a viable market for our farmers throughout the country. This will include opportunities for our farmers to supply their produce to local consumers, especially government institutions such as schools, hospital, correctional facilities and the domestic market including retailers. This will boost production among our farmers.”

    NNFU secretary Ellen Kalundu from Zambezi is the only executive member who retained her position. Other new members are Oiva Mahina from the Kavango West Region as vice-president, Patricia Grubes from Hardap as vice-secretary, Amon Kapi from Kunene North as treasurer, Kristian Hango from Omusati as vice-treasurer. Additional members are Kativa Thimoteus from Kavango East, Thomas Nakanyala and Yvonne !Awases from Kunene South.

    Meatco, the Agro-Marketing and Trading Agency (AMTA), Meat Board of Namibia, Agricultural Business Development Agency (AGRIBUSDEV) and Agribank, are among stakeholders who engaged farmers during the congress.

    The new president promised fight for the benefit of the communal farmers who have been neglected in the past.

    “If you look at our communal farmers they are they are very poor, but they are the producers. We as national farmers we need to put aside out differences and unite for the benefit of all of us. Our farmers need access to markets and also benefits from local consumers. That is what will be my focus area for the next three years,” Emvula said.

    ILENI NANDJATO

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  • 06/14/17--16:00: Andimba never wavered
  • Andimba never waveredAndimba never waveredEx-Robben Islanders, Mbeki remember Ya Toivo Former Robben Island prisoner Marten Kapewasha has paid glowing tribute to Ya Toivo, while South African statesman Thabo Mbeki has described the icon as an eminent son of the continent. Deputy chairperson of the Namibian Former Robben Island Political Prisoners Trust Marten Kapewasha said the late struggle icon Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo never wavered in his commitment to peace and freedom.

    Ya Toivo has also been eulogised by former South African president Thabo Mbeki as a pioneering architecture of a free Namibia.

    Until the time of his death, Ya Toivo served as chairperson of the trust, which was formed to look after the plight of former Robben Island political prisoners.

    Ya Toivo, who died last week Friday at the age of 92, served 16 years on Robben Island.

    “Ya Toivo was a person of his own voice who stood firm, a man who stood his ground and never wavered or retreated from his determination,” said Kapewasha.

    “We as former Robben Island prisoners have really lost a pillar we could always lean on, we have lost a friend, a comrade who inspired many of us and hopefully many young ones have also been inspired to follow in his footsteps. We convey our condolences to his whole family, especially his wife and children.”

    In an interview with Namibian Sun, Kapewasha said he was sentenced to Robben Island for eight years in 1974 together with youth and sport minister Jerry Ekandjo and Nghidinwa Jacob.

    They were found guilty of sabotage by the South African apartheid regime.

    He said on Robben Island they were put in single cells that were adjacent to the section that housed Ya Toivo and former South African struggle icon Nelson Mandela. However, they were not allowed to see or communicate with the older inmates.

    “But we developed a way to communicate by writing messages on toilet paper and because the paper is so thin and soft we could roll it into very small pieces that we would sellotape it on a small stone and just throw it when we were allowed to walk around,” he said.

    He said they only met Ya Toivo briefly in 1981 upon their release when he and Mandela asked to see them.

    “They were both strong and gave us strong advice that we are still young and should make sure that when we go back we must continue with the liberation struggle. I then met him again when he was released in 1984 for a little while and then after independence,” he said.

    “We are mourning, but also celebrating his life. His spirit and legacy will remain forever in our people. We used to share whatever we got from donations, but members are suffering now, because there is very little income. We will however work hard to revive the trust and keep it going, especially in memory of our comrade Ya Toivo.”



    Principled and militant

    Meanwhile, Mbeki offered his condolences to the bereaved family as well as the people of Namibia on the loss of Ya Toivo.

    “Comrade Toivo Ya Toivo belongs to a galaxy of stars - a generation of principled, dependable and militant leaders for the liberation of Africa, whose commitment to freedom, justice, and equality was nothing but exemplary,” said Mbeki.

    “Today this giant of our people is no more, his wise counsel having been lost and his voice only heard from a distant past, he still has important lessons for us to heed, as he recently reminded us when he said that 'I depart from this earth a happy person because Namibia is free, and you that are left behind, you have a duty to make it and not break it'. So, as we bid farewell to this true African giant, who has run his race with distinction we are reminded once again that the struggle for a new Africa continues.”

    Ya Toivo will be laid to rest at the Heroes Acre next week Saturday.



    NAMENE HELMICH

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  • 06/14/17--16:00: Dausab to hear fate in July
  • Dausab to hear fate in JulyDausab to hear fate in July Judgment in the murder trial of the former IT technician, who is charged with killing his girlfriend, a student pastor at Paulinium College in Windhoek, is not yet ready.

    The state and the defence counsels had earlier closed their arguments in the trial of murder accused Andre Dausab.

    Judgment was expected yesterday.

    However, Judge Alfred Siboleka, who presided over the case in the absence of the trial judge, Justice Naomi Shivute, consequently postponed the case against the accused to 25 July for judgment, saying it is not ready.

    Dausab is charged with killing Gofaone Motlamme, 33, a student from Botswana, on 22 February 2014.

    He denied guilt on the charge which was read with Combating of Domestic Violence Act.

    Dausab and Motlamme had on-and-off relationship but broke up before the fatal incident.

    It is not known what led to the break-up.

    He was also known to the family of the deceased.

    In a plea explanation, he admitted that he was, on the specific date, at Motlamme's flat at Paulinium College in Erasmus Street in Windhoek.

    At some stage in his trial Dausab had tried to argue that at the time of the commission of the offence he was unable to direct his actions or conduct in accordance with any insight into right or wrong.

    This he had maintained was because of a temporary emotional disturbance occasioned by emotional stress and emotional breakdown.

    “I was still in shock and confused for some time after the incident and cannot remember the events as they unfolded,” he had said.

    Therefore he raised a non-pathological criminal incapacity on the grounds that he lacked criminal capacity at the time of the commission of the offence.

    However, psychiatric observation had found that he is fit to stand trial.



    FRED GOEIEMAN

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    Lottery Bill too vague - IPPRLottery Bill too vague - IPPR In a newly released report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) concerns were raised about the lack of detail in Namibia's Lottery Bill, saying this could lead to the proceeds of the State lottery being spent on undeserving causes.

    “It is worrying that a handful of people will decide on spending all this money with so little guidance from the law as to what counts as a good cause,” the report says.

    According to IPPR, the draft bill is very vague on how the money will be distributed.

    “While the Harambee Prosperity Plan speaks of 'poverty eradication' projects, this wording is not in the bill.”

    According to the draft bill, the funds from ticket sales, after all expenses are paid, will be paid into a trust fund which will distribute this to various causes.

    The tourism minister and the lotteries board will determine how one portion of the funds are spent which will go towards grants for a “specific good cause”, while another portion goes to “any other matter approved by the minister” as long as he considers the development of Namibia in deciding where the money is spent.

    According to the report, almost anything can be defined as falling under the “general development” of Namibia, and there is a risk that lottery money could go towards undeserving causes because of this vague definition.

    The institute says that in some countries, critics have argued that money from the lottery simply replaces government spending on things government is supposed to do.

    According to the report, in the Namibian context, the Harambee Prosperity Plan attempts to steer lottery winnings to productive uses, stating that “winning proceeds will be paid partly in cash and as a compulsory investment in housing and pension”.

    “However, the bill before parliament does not contain this specifically. Instead it says that the board can decide “the manner in which prizes are claimed”.

    The report argues that although it makes sense to leave the finer details to the board, it would also be helpful if the law stated that the board has to consider productive ways of paying out the money.

    “It would be useful to have the law suggest an annuity option. In addition it is absolutely important that the law states that winners may remain anonymous and makes sure privacy protections are in place, so that winners can be protected from criminals wanting to take their money.”

    Furthermore it was pointed out that lotteries essentially tax poor people to pay for the projects that they support.

    It explained that a lottery can be seen as a special tax.

    “It is important to point out that it is mostly poor people that pay for this special tax.”

    According to IPPR taxes should be progressive meaning that richer individuals pay more than poorer individuals. “This way money is redistributed to make society more equal. Lotteries do the opposite.”

    The report also said that the draft bill does not contain much detail about addressing problems about gambling.

    Although it makes it illegal to sell tickets to minors, and it prohibits selling tickets to people on credit, the IPPR says that it would also be useful to establish funding to research gambling addiction in Namibia.



    ELLANIE SMIT

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    Same problem, different approachSame problem, different approachLand resettlement policy under review A little over 5 000 disadvantaged Namibians from various regions have benefited from the national resettlement programme. A review of the national resettlement policy, the first in 16 years, proposes new criteria to allocate land and occupation models based on different farm sizes and uses.

    This is part of an effort to tailor the resettlement programme in addressing the topical issue of land reform.

    The proposed new target beneficiaries identified in the proposal, which is being introduced to stakeholders on a whistle-stop tour across Namibia this week, are defined as landless commercial farmers, communal farmers and non-farming individuals.

    The revised policy is tackling criticisms against the 2001 programme, including claims of unfair land allocation and selection criteria, low agricultural output and the devastating consequences of a lack of financial and technical support to the farmers.

    “With the passing of time, criticism of this policy's inability to undo colonial wrongs and affording real economic empowerment to the beneficiaries has seemingly been gathering strong support and momentum,” the lands ministry said.

    The revision team notes although 16 years have passed, land reform and resettlement “still remains a complex issue”.

    Moreover, the varying interests and expectations of a greater number of Namibians on the issue of land reform and redistribution of agricultural land “complicate the process of land reform and resettlement even further”.

    The ministry warned that “it is important for many Namibians to acknowledge the fact there is not enough farmland available to cover the ever increasing number of Namibians eligible for resettlement.”

    While statistics are meagre, the revision team, found that to date 513 commercial farms of 3.1 million hectares have been acquired for resettlement, some 62.81% of the original target of 5 million hectares by

    2020.

    However, only 2.2%, or 5 300 individuals, groups, and cooperatives, of the total intended 243 000 beneficiaries, have benefited to date.

    The document also cautions that “poverty cannot be addressed via land reform alone.”

    For a better Namibia

    The review document of the resettlement policy highlights that an important question to ask is whether “those who were allocated land under the current system are using it to the greater good of Namibia and if not, how can the current system be repositioned to address this challenge?”

    The framework proposes three resettlement options - a high economic value model (HEVM), a moderate economic value model (MEVM) and a low economic value model (LEVM).

    These will allow Namibia “to implement broader models tailored to the varying land needs of the beneficiaries, which can accommodate the different farming systems in Namibia.”

    A major focus of the revised document is extensive pre- and post-settlement support to farmers, and linking beneficiaries to mentors as well as ensuring governmental and non-governmental buy-in to the programme.

    Another issue addressed is the “absence of effective monitoring and evaluation.”



    Who, how much, how long

    The HEVM model targets “mainly commercial farmers farming on leased commercial land” whose land rights by nature are considered insecure.

    This model requires that land is not partitioned or subdivided into small portions “because doing so has proven to be limiting in terms of productivity.”

    This model suggests a ceiling of 7 000 hectares and a 10-year leasehold depending on the proposed venture, with the option to buy or vacate the land at the end.

    “Implementation wise, this is a financially costly model,” the document says.

    The document states that “the only drawback of this model is that huge tracts of agricultural land will be required to resettle few individuals only.”

    The MEVM is a semi-commercial model that targets established communal farmers and is similar to the current resettlement programme.

    This model hopes to provide opportunity to “people who have demonstrated through their on-going farming ventures in communal areas that they are able to farm commercially.”

    Under this model, recipients will be allotted units of land not exceeding 3 000 hectares in the central and northern areas and 7 000 hectares in the south.

    “A compulsory rent-free probation period of at least three years should be observed,” the policy notes, and beneficiaries who fail to satisfy the probation conditions “should be discarded from the farm.”

    After the probation period, farmers should also be offered an opportunity to purchase the farm.

    This model should also be strictly monitored and evaluated and a mentorship programme as well as other support mechanism

    implemented.

    The LEVM is aimed at enhancing the welfare of those who have no income or a secure place to live, which “therefore presents an option for people that arguably feel they have been left out of the current land reform practices.”

    Under this model, recipients are not expected to undertake commercial agricultural activities of significance on their resettlement land as the objective is to provide them with shelter and secure land tenure rights where they can produce enough to feed themselves and their

    families.

    Beneficiaries will be allocated a 99-year lease valid for their lifetime with no lease fees applicable.

    The lease rights can also be transferred to close family members upon death.

    The size of the land will not exceed 50 hectares and the land reform team proposed that these pockets of land should be ideally situated on the periphery of urban areas.



    JANA-MARI SMITH

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    Outrage grows over baby elephant saleOutrage grows over baby elephant saleInternational activists deplore sale elephant calves There is growing international condemnation by animal rights groups over the country's plan to export five baby elephants to a zoo in Dubai. Outrage is growing among international conservation organisations against the permission granted by Namibia to a game farm owned by a Swedish national to capture and export five young elephants to a zoo in Dubai.

    The Humane Society International (HSI), together with 35 other conservation organisations, representing millions of people worldwide, has sent an open letter to Johan Hansen of Eden Wildlife, urging him to immediately halt plans to capture and export the five young elephants to Dubai Safari Park in the United Arab Emirates. This follows after the environment ministry confirmed that a permit was granted to Eden Wildlife for the export of five elephants aged between four and eight. It has also come to light that this will be the second time that the game farm is selling elephants. In 2012, the farm exported nine young elephants to Mexico.

    Some have alluded to the fact that Hansen could be under financial duress as it appears that a company he owns and manages in Sweden is not doing well.

    ITTUR Industrier AB, a Swedish company of which Hansen is the CEO and chairman, has filed for bankruptcy twice in the last few years.

    Hansen himself reportedly filed for bankruptcy in March 2013 and has been implicated in tax fraud, including a tax deduction for a luxury hunting trip.

    Many of Hansen's company's subsidiaries have reportedly also gone bankrupt, including Ittur Global Industries, the latest to fail, in May of this year.

    According to the Audrey Delsink, executive director for HSI Africa, the group decided to take action amidst fears that forcibly removing the young calves from their herd and transporting them vast distances will traumatise the elephants, and possibly kill them.

    The letter was also sent to the Swedish embassy in the United States and the embassy in South Africa, as well as offices of the ambassadors in Stockholm.

    “African elephants belong in the wild, on African soil, not held captive for entertainment in a zoo in a Middle Eastern desert. Subjecting wild elephants to a life in captivity is inhumane; wrenching these five calves from their families is a trauma that will scar them for life. Ethically responsible elephant scientists and preserve managers know that capturing and selling elephant calves is not a humane or efficient population management measure, as the Namibian government claims. Rather, it is a false pretence to make financial gains that have no conservation benefits,” said Delsink.

    The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has dismissed allegations and reports insinuating that the export of the elephants has not met the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Fauna and Flora (CITES) criteria.

    It has stressed that the sale of these elephants is not for commercial purposes but purely for conservation as Namibia has seen an increase in its elephant population and in human wildlife population.

    However, reports have quoted Earth Organisation Namibia as saying: “In a recent CITES report Namibia has given its official elephant numbers as 22 711, of which 13 136 live in the northeast of the country. It is impossible to verify those numbers because Namibia decided not to be part of the Great Elephant Census. Of all the countries with substantial elephant populations, Namibia was the only one that elected not to participate. If Namibia has such a large population of elephants, why did it choose not to be part of the Great Elephant Census?”



    Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta last year explained to Namibian Sun there were various reasons why Namibia did not take part in the census.

    He said firstly that Namibia conducts its own wildlife counts and therefore has the data for elephant numbers and mortalities, those which died due to poaching and because of natural causes, at hand.

    Shifeta said this information is public and the government would not refuse to furnish it to those conducting the survey.

    However, if they wanted to conduct their own aerial surveys in Namibia there were various aspects to consider, of which the main reason would be security.

    “We have the capacity to do our own counts and we have the figures available. It will depend if there is the need for them to conduct this survey, security measures, who they are, where they are flying, how low they are flying and when, because they can disturb elephants during their breeding time.”

    While Namibia was not officially surveyed by the census, aerial surveys that took off in northern Botswana to survey southern Angola and Zambia flew over the Zambezi Region of Namibia.

    It was reported that Namibia has shown increasing numbers of elephants in that region, but this is possibly because the territory runs the length of the unfenced border with Botswana, the country with the largest single population of elephants, which stands at about 130 000 strong.



    ELLANIE SMIT

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  • 06/14/17--16:00: N$36m road that never was
  • N$36m road that never was N$36m road that never was The Roads Authority and the Roads Contractor Company are failing to explain why the construction of the N$36 million 40km gravel road between Omakange and Onamatanga in Omusati Region has to date not yet started, despite the tender having been awarded as far back as 2013.

    Former minister of works and transport Erkki Nghimtina launched the road construction work in 2013 with his ministry and the RA.

    Through the Omusati Regional Council, the tender was awarded to the RCC.

    But to date the RCC has only de-bushed less than 20km of the road.

    The principal of Onamatanga Primary School, Johannes Shaanika, expressed his disappointment in two parastatals, saying they seem to be unconcerned about the welfare of Onamatanga residents.

    He said Onamatanga is only accessible with a four-wheel-drive vehicle, adding the roads are sandy, making it dangerous and difficult to drive.

    During the rainy season the area is not accessible at all. He added the RCC has now exacerbated the already bad condition of the road.

    Shaanika also said he wrote many letters enquiring about the road, but got no response on any of them.

    “It is now four years, but we don’t know why the road works have not started. This road means a lot to the community of Onamatanga,” said an irate Shaanika.

    “We thought it was a relief for us to get a gravel road, but now we don’t know what happened. There are many cases of community members who either died or give birth while on the way to the hospital because of the condition of the road. We have a local clinic, but it takes an ambulance from Okahao District Hospital a long time to reach us and during the rainy season they do not reach us at all.”

    Onamatanga is about 120km from Okahao.

    In 2015, former councillor for Ruacana constituency, Abasta Iipinge, also voiced concerns about the RA’s failure to complete the project after it had been on site for two years.

    “They abandoned the construction work for a long time and now we don’t know whether they are constructing an airport runway or they are constructing a soccer field. My office made enquiries on several occasions, but we are not getting satisfactory responses from them and we don’t know what the problem is, “Iipinge said.

    Efforts to get comment from RCC and RA yielded no results.

    RA spokesperson Hileni Fillemon did not respond to questions sent to her, while the RCC referred Namibian Sun from one office to another and still, no details of the project were given.

    RCC’s equipment is still on site, but no construction work is going on.

    Last year when RA’s CEO Conrad Lutombi made a courtesy call on the Omusati governor, Erginus Endjala, he stressed the RCC should be given an ultimatum to complete the project by August 2016 or, have its contract terminated, but nothing has happened in this regard.

    ILENI NANDJATO

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