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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

older | 1 | .... | 635 | 636 | (Page 637) | 638 | 639 | .... | 1152 | newer

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  • 01/02/18--14:00: Shot of the day
  • Shot of the dayShot of the day BEAUTY: This photo taken on December 23 last year shows artists working on the construction site of an 80-metre-long snow sculpture for the Vasaloppet China ski festival in Changchun in China's north-eastern Jilin province. The ski festival starts tomorrow. PHOTO: NAMPA/AFP

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  • 01/02/18--14:00: It's a boy!
  • It's a boy!It's a boy! The first baby to be born in Windhoek for 2018, a boy, was delivered at the Windhoek Central Hospital.

    The nurse on duty, Anna Josef said the healthy baby boy was born at 01:03, weighing 3.16 kilogrammes.

    Seven babies had been born at the Windhoek Central Hospital by 14:30 on Monday, while two more babies were expected to be born before the end of the day.

    The second baby for 2018 was born at 01:20 at the Katutura State Hospital.

    The baby, also a boy, weighed 2.5kg.

    Four babies had been born at the Katutura State Hospital by 14h30.

    The nurse on duty, Ester Shihepo, who was in a jovial mood, told Nampa it was not the first time she helped to deliver a baby on New Year's Day.

    She said they are always happy to welcome babies at the beginning of a new year.

    “I am so proud,” Shihepo said.

    No births had been recorded at any of the private hospitals in Windhoek when contacted at around 14:30 on Monday.

    NAMPA

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    Namibia “hottest” tourism destinationNamibia “hottest” tourism destinationCountry ranks highly once again Namibia has been ranked among the best holiday destinations for this year, applauded for good conservation and good safety of travellers. Namibia has once again been ranked highly by experts as one of the hottest travel destinations for 2018.

    From conservation, sustainability, desert experiences, adventure and budget for your buck, Namibia offers it all.

    With increasing tourism numbers and more international airlines flying to Namibia, these global listings can only further boost the Namibian tourism industry.

    Namibia made it on to the list of the best holiday hot spots for 2018. These destinations were mapped by travel experts and published by Express, and specifically referred to US President Donald Trump famously mispronouncing Namibia as 'Nambia'- putting the country on the map.

    However, it says that there is much more to the country and several reasons to visit the country.

    “Exploring 'the Gates of Hell' within the 80-million-year-old Namib Desert was once inhospitable but is now a tourist spot to explore with clear skies for stargazing and safaris,” it adds.

    Furthermore, Namibia was ranked as one of the five countries in the world where you can be part of the country's coolest desert experiences in 2018.

    According to Evening Standard, the Namib Desert is thought to have been around for some 55 million years and has remained unchanged for the last two of them. “An expanse of dunescapes and sand plains, it's arid, but there is life to be found there,” the newspaper says.

    The country was also listed as one of the top 10 cheapest places to travel in 2018.

    According to Elite Daily, Namibia is still untouched by the high tourist numbers and has a good safety factor.

    Namibia was also recognised for its conservation efforts and listed as one of the top Sustainable Travel Destinations for 2018.

    In Africa, South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya and Namibia are the four most travel- and tourism-competitive economies. Despite sustained economic growth, travel and tourism remains mostly untapped. Air connectivity and travel costs remain challenges, as do visa policies and infrastructure. While tourism on the continent is mainly driven by natural tourism, there is significant room for improvement in protecting, valuing and communicating cultural richness.

    Namibia hosted a record number of 1.46 million tourists in 2016, representing an increase of 5.9% from the previous year when 1.38 million tourists visited the country.

    The total number of foreign arrivals in 2016 increased by 3.6% from the previous year, from 1.51 million to 1.57 million.



    ELLANIE SMIT

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    Robbers use house fire to get awayRobbers use house fire to get away The home of the owner of the well-known Namibgrens Guest Farm near the Gamsberg Pass west of Windhoek went up in flames at around 02:30 on New Year's Day.

    According to the Namibgrens manager, Annamarie Strydom, the farmhouse of John Rabie burned down while he and his family were on holiday at Cape Cross.

    “The house burned down so quickly. Everything is destroyed and we could not save anything,” Strydom said.

    The facility was fully booked, but all the guests were safe and no one was injured during the incident.

    It is reported that the arsonists possibly started the fire at Rabie's house in a bid to divert attention while trying to break into Strydom's house.

    “As we went to see how the house burned, they came through the bathroom window at my house. They stole cash of about N$17 000. They left everything else, even the mobile phones that were lying around were not stolen,” Strydom said.

    “To cause such damage for this amount of money is terrible. This is the first time something like this happened on Namibgrens. Our year ended badly.”

    She said the Nauchas police and environmental reservists were very helpful and arrested four suspects who are reportedly from the area.

    JEMIMA BEUKES

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    Tantalite mining kicks off at WarmbadTantalite mining kicks off at Warmbad The small hamlet of Warmbad, some 30 kilometres north on the Orange River, will see some improvement in opportunities this year.

    This follows the commencement of mining activities at a former dormant tantalite mine in Warmbad.

    The owner and operator, the UK-based Kennedy Ventures, is now planning to up the ante and production with the installation of a new crusher. This should help the company compete on par with other miners of tantalite as it competes for new buyers for its products across the world. Kennedy Ventures this year in March commenced with the installation of a new crusher which should help production work at the //Karas Region-based mine.

    Company CEO Larry Johnson expressed his delight that they had been able to achieve a considerable amount of work in a short space of time since the mine was commissioned.

    “We have made huge strides in a very short amount of time and the improvements continue pushing us to a world class position with our ability to meet stringent specifications with our high-grade tantalum ore. We look forward to updating our shareholders as further milestones are achieved,” Johnson said of the recent developments.

    Work done over the course of the year had also positioned Kennedy Ventures perfectly to compete with other miners of tantalite Johnson had said.

    “African Tantalum (Pty) Limited, the company under which the mine operates, has made considerable progress in the year and is now in a position of strength both at the operational level and with onward sales,” said Johnson. The company is said to be in discussions with prospective buyers of its tantalite ore from China and the United States an investor presentation published on its website showed. According to Kennedy Ventures, tantalite is predominantly used in electronic components such as capacitors and some high-power resistors in everyday items like cell phones, personal and laptop computers, digital and video cameras and handheld gaming devices.

    The company is also said to be investigating the potential of mining lithium from its tantalite mine it said on its website. This development was buoyed by the high presence of tantalite found in the area in which it mines.

    OGONE TLHAGE

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    Omitara community to get toiletsOmitara community to get toilets Residents relieving themselves in the bush will soon be a thing of the past at the Omitara settlement as toilets are now being constructed for community members.

    The close to 320 flushable toilets and showers commissioned by government, are being built by Thulu Trading Construction company.

    The Omitara settlement committee secretary, Willem Haoseb said community members have been relieving themselves in bushes and even at nearby farms.

    According to Haoseb, a number of community members have been fined close to N$300 for this transgression, however not even that has stopped them from continuing to use the farms as ablution facilities, for the sake of some privacy.

    A number of individuals were also seen relieving themselves across the road, opposite some shebeens, during Nampa's visit to the place.

    The secretary said he looked forward to the simple pleasure of a decent toilet.

    “We have felt as if we were not part of this country. Since the settlement's existence, to finally get this basic need of toilets is indeed a relief,” he said.

    Even though the construction of the toilets is taking a little longer than planned, Haoseb said the fact that there are going to be toilets available is a milestone for the community.

    “The toilets were supposed to be completed in August this year, but due to unforeseen circumstances, it could not; the contractor said they will be done this February.”

    Omitara has over 2 000 people, with at least seven to eight members in each household.

    The settlement has a clinic, a primary school and kindergarten, as well as a police station about three kilometres from the community.

    NAMPA

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    2017 ends in death and despair for some2017 ends in death and despair for someRape and suicide take the highest toll There were six suicides reported to Namibian police over the New Year's weekend and three women, among them a teen of 14, say they were raped. The Namibian police are waiting for the autopsy results before the exact cause of death of a man, whose body was found after jackals allegedly fed on his remains on the last day of 2017 in Oranjemund, can be determined.

    “We still don't know the cause of death, and that can only be confirmed through an autopsy. Only then will we know what really transpired,” Namibian police Deputy Commissioner of the //Karas Region Chrispin Mubebo, told Namibian Sun yesterday.

    Mubebo confirmed that the body of Salatiel Kushinga (31) is on its way to the Keetmanshoop mortuary to be forensically examined to determine the cause of death.

    According to the Namibian police crime report issued on Monday, Kushinga died on 31 December sometime between 04:00 and 06:30 about 30 metres from the Flamingo Court flats in a park.

    The report noted that Kashinga was allegedly drunk and fell asleep. At some point after that, jackals “feasted on him” but a post mortem will be needed to determine whether they fed on him after he died or not.



    Murder on the highway

    Police also continue to hunt for an unknown number of suspects implicated in the murder of 63-year-old Mweshipange Asser who died after a rock thrown at the bus he was driving crashed through the front window and caused fatal injuries.

    The incident was reported at midnight of 31 December on the Western Bypass near Rocky Crest.

    Police said Asser, a NamPower employee in Windhoek, was on duty and had just dropped of his colleagues in a Toyota Quantum minibus. When he passed beneath the Rocky Crest bridge several rocks were thrown at the minibus causing damage to the vehicle.

    However, one rock smashed through the windscreen and hit Asser on the chest.

    He was transported by emergency services to a nearby hospital but died from the severe wounds he sustained. The police yesterday confirmed that so far no further progress can be reported on the hunt for Asser's killer.



    Despair

    Moreover, at least three cases of rape were opened by police over the New Year's weekend, including the rape of a 14-year-old girl in Tsandi.

    The rape allegedly took place on 29 December at around 22:00 at the Tsandi Built Together informal settlement. The suspect (27) was arrested and was due to appear in the Okahao Magistrate's Court yesterday.

    Another rape investigation was launched on 30 December at Omatjete after a 48-year-old woman accused a 35-year-old man of entering her home and raping her.

    Another rape case was opened on 30 December after a 25-year-old suspect was accused of raping a 31-year-old woman. The man allegedly followed her after she left a local bar and attacked her when she arrived at her house.

    A further six suicides were reported to police between 29 December and 1 January.

    Police are also investigating a case of robbery and hijacking after two suspects boarded a taxi, asking to be taken to Eros to the private hospital.

    At the end of the journey the suspects pointed a knife at the taxi driver and forced him out of the vehicle. The men fled in the white Honda Fit, registration number N189-639W, taking along the taxi driver's cell phone.

    JANA-MARI SMITH

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    Cannabis sales legal in CaliforniaCannabis sales legal in California NAMPA/REUTERS

    California will launch the world's largest regulated commercial market for recreational marijuana on Monday, as dozens of newly licensed stores catering to adults who enjoy the drug for its psychoactive effects open for business up and down the state.

    It becomes the sixth US state, and by far the most populous, venturing beyond legalised medical marijuana to permit the sale of cannabis products of all types to customers at least 21- years old.

    Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada were the first to introduce recreational pot sales on a state-regulated, licensed and taxed basis. Massachusetts and Maine are on track to follow suit later this year.

    With California and its 39.5 million residents officially joining the pack, more than one-in-five Americans now live in states where recreational marijuana is legal for purchase, even though cannabis remains classified as an illegal narcotic under US law.

    The marijuana market in California alone, which boasts the world's sixth-largest economy, is valued by most experts at several billion dollars annually and is expected to generate at least a US$1 billion a year in tax revenue.

    "Adding California to the regulated market for cannabis is a really big deal," said Heather Azzi, a senior attorney for the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group working to liberalize marijuana laws.

    Uruguay became the first and only country to legalise recreational marijuana sales nationally, permitted through its pharmacies starting in July 2017, but is far smaller in comparison, with a population of just 3.4 million.

    Still, most California jurisdictions are sitting out the highly anticipated New Year's Day inauguration of recreational cannabis sales.

    Many, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, will not be ready for days or weeks because of additional red tape required by city and county governments before would-be retailers can obtain their state licenses.

    But business will almost certainly be brisk at newly permitted shops ready on Day One. They number about four-dozen outlets across California, according to an authoritative guide to the cannabis market, GreenState, published by the San Francisco Chronicle.

    Stores authorised to carry recreational weed were set to go on New Year's Day in San Diego, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Oakland, Berkeley, Eureka and Desert Hot Springs, among other locales. Hundreds more are expected to open throughout the state as the year progresses.

    Many previously operated strictly as medical cannabis dispensaries under a patchwork of local regulations, and will now be licensed by the state for recreational merchandise as well.

    Customers in the recreational sector - which state regulators prefer to call the "adult use" market - are only permitted to buy an ounce (28 grams) of raw cannabis or its equivalent at a time.

    Medical patients can buy unlimited quantities, but must present a doctor's note and have purchased a medical ID card.

    The stage for Monday's grand opening was set when voters passed a ballot measure in November 2016, Proposition 64, immediately legalising personal possession and use of recreational pot by adults 21 and over.

    But it has taken California lawmakers and bureaucrats over a year to devise a licensing, regulatory and tax structure for all phases of the commercial distribution chain.

    California in 1996 became the first state to legalise marijuana for medical use, and more than 30 states have since done likewise.

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    Iran protests mean economic dilemma Iran protests mean economic dilemma Deep sense of public frustration with unemployment, inflation Many have taken to Iran’s streets bemoaning government reforms and at least ten people have been killed as a result of the protests. NAMPA/REUTERS



    Iran's President Hassan Rouhani may have to step back from some of his core economic policies in the face of nationwide protests by tens of thousands of people frustrated by high unemployment and stagnant living standards

    The protests, during which at least 10 people have been killed, are fuelled by disappointment that the lifting of sanctions on Iran in January 2016 has failed to deliver an economic boom.

    Instead, the non-oil part of the economy has continued to struggle, with unemployment officially put at around 12.5% - in reality, much higher for Iran's millions of young people - and inflation running at nearly 10%.

    "There is a crisis of expectations in Iran," said Tamer Badawi, a research fellow at the Istanbul-based Al-Sharq Forum. "It is a deep sense of economic frustration."

    To ease that discontent, Rouhani may need to spend more government money on creating jobs, restrain inflation by supporting the rial exchange rate and do more to eradicate the widespread corruption which angers the protesters.

    But all of those actions would involve policy change.

    Rouhani has been pursuing a conservative budget policy to bring Iran's volatile state finances under control, part of his effort to create an attractive environment for foreign investors.

    Meanwhile, fighting corruption would risk a backlash from powerful interests hurt by a crackdown.

    Mehrdad Emadi, an Iranian economist who is head of energy risk analysis at the Betamatrix consultancy in London, said Rouhani faced a "Herculean challenge" fighting corruption in particular. But he suggested Rouhani might have no choice.

    "People are more and more desperate," he said. "In this situation, there will be periodic outbreaks of dissent."

    SANCTIONS

    After taking power in 2013, Rouhani quickly reversed the spendthrift fiscal and monetary policies of his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, curbing a system of cash handouts for lower- and middle-income Iranians.

    Last month he proposed another conservative budget to parliament for the Iranian year starting next March 21. The US$104 billion budget was up about 6% from the plan for the current year - a cut in real terms at current inflation rates.

    Such austerity has become increasingly unpopular among the public as the economy has struggled despite the end of sanctions. Many foreign banks and companies remain reluctant to do business with Iran, partly because US President Donald

    Trump's hard line on Tehran has deterred trade and investment. Emadi said a study to which he contributed found Iranians were dissatisfied with the economy for five main reasons: unemployment, weak purchasing power, corruption, a weak rial, and unequal distribution of wealth among Iran's regions.

    The study showed their perceptions of the first three areas have worsened this year, he said. In some areas of southeast Iran, unemployment among young people has reached 45% and the job market is shrinking, he added.

    The rial has sunk to 42 900 against the US dollar from 36 000 a year ago. Rouhani's administration might support the currency by spending more of Iran's foreign reserves, but this would risk deterring foreign investment; the International Monetary Fund warned against such a policy last month.

    Emadi blamed much of the economy's poor performance on a deep-rooted structural issue: the influence of paramilitary bodies such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as well as religious institutions on business.

    Those interests, which according to some estimates control over 60% of assets in Iran, generally do not pay taxes and stifle competition from small private companies, blocking job creation, he said.

    Emadi said Rouhani's administration was addressing this problem, pressing institutions to open their books to tax audits and demanding more transparency in the business world.

    But Badawi predicted the government would find it hard to secure any quick improvement in the economy.

    While it may announce a stimulus package to create jobs, it is unlikely to backtrack on cash handouts, and problems such as diversifying the economy and repairing a debt-burdened banking system can only be solved in the long term, he said.

    "My guess is that nothing significant will change. The government will try to be open with people, to propose initiatives, but there are structural problems - diversification, the banking problem and relations with the rest of world, especially Trump."

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  • 01/02/18--14:00: Logging probe launched
  • Logging probe launchedLogging probe launchedACC seizes tons of wood at Walvis Bay Following reports on social media over the last week, the Anti-Corruption Commission has launched an investigation into what appears to be a large-scale wood smuggling operation. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has launched a full investigation into illegal cross-border smuggling of protected wood and has since the advent of the investigation last week, seized five loads at the Walvis Bay police roadblock. The first load was confiscated on Wednesday and the fifth load at 23:00 on Sunday, New Year's Eve.

    According to the ACC's chief investigator Nelius Becker, there appears to be a syndicate on the Zambian side of the border that issues forged documents.

    He explained that the documents presented for the seized loads have the exact same serial number, which appears to be a template which is repeatedly used.

    “We will have to expand our investigation across the border and involve the Zambian authorities, because it looks as if the corruption is committed on their side. We also want to know the source of this wood, whether it was legally purchased or stolen [illegal logging],” he said.

    According to the ACC's Facebook page, a consignment of 20 cubic metres of rosewood was confiscated on Thursday last week pending further investigations.

    According to the documents, this wood allegedly originated from a company called Sesheke Hardwood Limited in Zambia and was in transit to Zhejiang Wutong Tree Supply Chain Management Co. Ltd in China.

    The ACC questions the invoice for the consignment which shows that the consignment was allegedly sold for US$1 200 which is about US$60 per cubic metre. The commission however, questions the invoice number, marked as 'Invoice 00002'.

    “The documentation appears to be forged as certain parts of the phytosanitary certificate, bearing the same serial number and RCT number of the one used by a truck and consignment seized on Wednesday, was used, and only the bottom details describing the consignment were changed. The 'Clear Guard' treatment was allegedly done in May 2017 and the wood only exported from Zambia in December 2017,” the ACC posted.

    The commission says that this lapse of six months is in contradiction with international standards which dictate that the treatment is done around 14 days before export.

    On Wednesday, 28 December, the ACC followed up on information that was circulated on Facebook regarding trucks that were seen at the Walvis Bay weighbridge carrying logs, suspected to be the product of illegal logging.

    Following a preliminary investigation, a load of Mukula wood, which is known as 'gold' or 'green copper' consisting of 121 logs, roughly 20 cubic metres, was seized by the commission and an investigation opened. It is this consignment's documents that match the rosewood consignment seized the following day, Thursday, 29 December.

    According to the ACC, it is believed that the origin of these consignments of wood is the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    The investigation continues.

    JEMIMA BEUKES

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  • 01/02/18--14:00: Chances for rain improve
  • Chances for rain improveChances for rain improve The dry and hot conditions that marked the transition from 2017 into 2018 are expected to temporarily end by mid-week in the central and eastern parts of Namibia.

    Chances for rain will improve from today onwards for large parts of the country, except the southern and western parts of Namibia, according to the Namibia Meteorological Service (NMS).

    Chief forecaster Odillo Kgobetsi told Namibian Sun yesterday that for the past week rainfall has been restricted mostly to the northern and north-eastern parts of the country.

    Current conditions are set to spread to larger parts of the country, notably the Khomas Region as from today, and further east at the weekend.

    “Showers persist over the Cuvelai Delta and surrounding areas, and will slowly extend into the northern regions with a few thundershowers. This pattern strengthens by mid-week to include northwest and the Khomas Region or central area, and will move eastwards by the weekend,” Kgobetsi confirmed.

    Today's weather forecast by NMS is for sunny and hot to very hot conditions in the south and west, otherwise partly cloudy and warm to hot with a few thundershowers in the central-north and north-eastern regions.

    The last week of 2017 was marked by severe hot weather and little rain over most parts of the country.

    Sparse rainfall was recorded in the north-central parts where Ondangwa recorded 2 mm of rainfall, Oshikango 5.8 mm, Outapi 1.5mm and Eenhana 1.5mm.

    Katima Mulilo received the highest recorded rainfall on the last day of 2017 with a recorded 22 mm of rain.On the first day of the New Year, Eenhana recorded 0.7 mm.

    Kgobetsi added that a closed vortex is present to the east of Mauritius and is expected to develop into the first tropical cyclone in the new season of 2018.

    According to the Storm Report South Africa's forecast and analysis published yesterday, together with the front that has now reached southern Mozambique, “there is a high pressure ridge forming along the east coast which is an extension of the Atlantic high pressure centre. This is pushing cooler air originating from far south into Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Eastern Cape, and southern Mozambique.”

    The wet and cool weather that will result from the weather conditions near Mozambique will cause rains throughout nearby areas but is not expected to extend into Namibia.

    JANA-MARI SMITH

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    Russia restores contact with Angolan satelliteRussia restores contact with Angolan satellite DAILY TIMES

    Russian specialists on Friday said they have restored communication with Angosat-1, the first national satellite it launched for Angola, days after they lost contact with it.

    “Specialists of Energia rocket and space corporation have received telemetry information from Angosat,” Energia said in a statement. “All parameters of the spacecraft systems are normal.”

    Energia is the maker of the satellite which Russia launched from its Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday evening. It stopped receiving telemetry shortly afterwards.

    The incident was a new embarrassment for the country’s once proud space industry after Russia in November lost contact with a weather satellite after it was launched from a new cosmodrome in the country’s far east.

    The Angosat project was agreed by Russia and Angola in 2009 and includes the satellite, its launch, and on-ground infrastructure in a suburb of the capital Luanda. The approximately US$280-million project has been financed with a credit from Russia’s state banks.

    The satellite is designed for a 15-year mission to boost satellite communications, Internet access, and radio and television services.

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    Fuel price relief for homeward bound travellersFuel price relief for homeward bound travellers FIN24

    Travellers in South Africa can look forward to some relief as they make their way home after their December holidays, with the Department of Energy announcing a drop of up to 34 cents a litre in fuel prices.

    The decrease of 34cents per litre for 95 octane petrol, which will take effect from 3 January, will take the per litre price to R14.42 inland, while the coastal price drops back below the R14 mark, to R13.93.

    The department also announced a decrease of 29 cents per litre for 93 octane petrol, while the per litre price of diesel with 0.05% and 0.005% sulphur content will decrease by 22 cents and 26 cents respectively.

    The wholesale price of illuminating paraffin will decrease by 29 cents per litre, while the cost of wholesale liquefied petroleum Gas will decrease by 71 cents per kilogram.

    This is the first month that fuel prices have come down after five consecutive petrol price increases.

    The department said the main reasons for the fuel price adjustments were due to a stronger rand against the US dollar, which went from R14.10 to R13.27, on average, during the period under review.

    The strengthening rand was however undermined slightly by an increase in the average Brent Crude oil price, which increased from US$62.50 to US$63.77 per barrel during the period under review.

    Brent crude closed at its highest in more than two years due to the shrinking US stockpile, while a key North Sea oil pipeline remains shut, although the repair of the pipeline is now complete and pressure testing is well under way.

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    Bloomberg’s bond picks for 2018Bloomberg’s bond picks for 2018Bloomberg profiles the perfect markets for bond investors From Angola to Zimbabwe: A Guide to Africa's Key Markets in 2018. BLOOMBERG



    For bond investors, Africa was a happy hunting ground last year.

    Its local-currency and dollar securities easily outperformed those of emerging markets overall as investors piled into a continent offering high yields and starting to recover from the commodity bust of three years ago.

    But risks abound, among them policy tightening in advanced economies, local and global politics, weakening currencies and another fall in oil prices. And then there is credit risk.

    Mozambique and Republic of Congo missed Eurobond payments in 2017, while countries including Cameroon and Zambia agreed or began talks on bailouts with the International Monetary Fund. And since Namibia and South Africa were downgraded to junk, the continent has been left without any investment-grade foreign-currency issuers.

    Christine Lagarde, for one, thinks Africa’s debt problems “could very well” worsen in 2018 as the dollar appreciates and the US raises interest rates, according to an interview with Quartz magazine in December. The IMF’s managing director said yield-hungry bond investors “were so eager to lend that I don’t think they were very serious about assessing the risks.”

    Africa’s debt is already less attractive on a relative basis. U.S. 10-year yields rose to their highest in nine months two weeks ago, which narrowed African dollar-spreads to 352 basis points, around the lowest in three years, according to Standard Bank Group Ltd.

    Here’s a guide to what investors should watch for in 10 key African markets in 2018:

    Angola

    Investors are waiting on the OPEC member to devalue its currency, the kwanza, to help ease a shortage of dollars and revive what was, until the 2014 oil crash, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Standard Bank says they may have to wait until lawmakers pass new President Joao Lourenco’s first budget, probably by mid-February.

    Egypt

    Elections in the first half of this year will signal whether President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, or his successor, will carry on with the deep economic reforms that have gone down well with portfolio investors, but left ordinary Egyptians reeling from subsidy cuts and high inflation.

    Ghana

    Ghana’s economy grew 9.3% in the third quarter of 2017 as oil production increased. If sustained, it would mark a turnaround for the West African nation, which has had an IMF program since 2015. The nation suffered its slowest economic growth in more than a quarter-century in 2016 as it enacted austerity measures.

    Kenya

    Kenyans and foreign investors will hope that East Africa’s biggest economy finally ends a political crisis triggered by last year’s elections, the results of which haven’t been accepted by the defeated main opposition alliance. Until it does, President Uhuru Kenyatta will struggle to revive a slowing economy and attract more investment.

    Mozambique

    The southern African nation has been ravaged by a financial crisis caused by the government taking on too much external debt, much of it in secret. It defaulted on a US$727 million Eurobond last January and still hasn’t begun formal restructuring talks with creditors including New York-based hedge fund Greylock Capital Management LLC. While the government wants to start negotiations, bondholders say that Mozambique has the money to pay them back and that it should turn to other lenders for a haircut.

    Nigeria

    Nigerian politicians are already gearing up for elections in early 2019. President Muhammadu Buhari, who is 75-years-old and spent many months last year in London getting treated for an undisclosed illness, is yet to say if he’ll run again. Either way, any signs that officials are putting much-needed reforms on hold to concentrate on the vote may unnerve investors in an economy that only recently came out of recession.

    Republic of Congo

    Will it default again? The oil-producing central African country, which was about a month late on a coupon in mid-2017, is considering halting payments on some debts, its prime minister said in October. It was due to pay a coupon on its US$363 million Eurobond at the end of 2017, though it has a 30-day grace period. Despite the prime minister’s comments, the security surged 14 cents to 87 cents on the dollar last month as investors bet the government was closer to striking a deal with the IMF for a loan.

    South Africa

    Investors will be closely watching Cyril Ramaphosa, the new leader of the ruling African National Congress. February’s budget will be crucial, signalling whether Ramaphosa, who has prioritised stimulating the economy and stamping out corruption, is able to assert his authority over President Jacob Zuma’s administration and if South Africa has done enough to avoid more credit-rating downgrades. Investors will also look for any hints as to whether Ramaphosa will try to force Zuma, whose term runs until 2019, to step down early.

    Zambia

    The copper producer’s immediate prospects hinge on whether it can get a bailout from the IMF. The kwacha has fallen more than 10% against the dollar since July on investor concern that it won’t manage that soon. Without a deal, Zambia is at risk of financial stress, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

    Zimbabwe

    Not a market for bond investors. But Zimbabwe may become tempting for global equity traders again after Robert Mugabe was ousted as president in November. That could open up the country - once home to one of Africa’s most important stock markets - to much-needed foreign investment.

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    Mokosso family still searchingMokosso family still searchingOfficial search called off The family of an American man who went missing in the Brandberg area two weeks ago say they are not giving up the search for him, or his remains. The official search for a United States citizen, Mark Mokosso (37), who has been missing since 15 December in the Brandberg area near Uis, has been called off but his siblings are offering a reward for any further leads that could provide answers.

    “The search has stopped for Mark but the investigation remains open. If any new information is discovered then the search will continue. Mark could not have just vanished,” Roy Mokosso told Namibian Sun yesterday.

    Mokosso and two other siblings only recently left Namibia to return home after spending several days alongside authorities and volunteers combing the remote and vast Brandberg area where their brother was last seen.

    After the search was called off when all leads ran dry, Mokosso said the family was offering a reward of N$150 000 to anyone who helps to locate Mark Mokosso alive.

    The family is also offering a reward of N$50 000 for any information that leads to the recovery of Mokosso's remains, should he not have survived the ordeal.

    “We want closure and we do want to know what happened. If there is even the slightest of chances that Mark might be alive, then we will maintain hope. The reward will hopefully help uncover new information,” Roy said yesterday.

    He and his siblings have not discounted the possibility that the disappearance of their brother could be related to foul play, and not an accident.

    “We will be doing our part to help the police investigation. We will be contacting his bank so they can watch his accounts for activity, we will be sending the police a detailed list of any valuable items Mark might have had on him and we have offered a reward,” Roy Mokosso added.

    Mark Mokosso, who arrived in Namibia early in December, vanished more than two weeks ago after he had driven to Brandberg from Swakopmund in a rented car, reportedly to hike through the area.

    He was last seen after he parked his vehicle on the D2342 Xoboxobo road and left.

    An intense ground and air search was launched by the Namibian authorities, joined by volunteers and family members of the missing man.

    The search covered an area of around 750 square kilometres in the desolate area just south of the Brandberg Mountain.

    Shortly after Christmas the official search was called off after all leads had led to a dead end.

    Roy Mokosso said he is grateful that he travelled to Namibia to join the search and was impressed with the effort by the authorities and others in conducting the search.

    “We had very high hopes going to Namibia. We are glad we went to Namibia. If we had not have come we would have been left with more questions than we have today. We are grateful to the local government and the police for their efforts. The search for Mark was very thorough and professional. We got to meet and know police officers involved from day one in the search for Mark.”

    Roy Mokosso added that the police are also disappointed “that we have been unable to find Mark. Again if we would not have come we wouldn't have known the dedication the police put towards the search. We also would not have completely comprehended the size of the Brandberg area.”

    Mokosso concluded by noting that the family have not lost hope that they will be able to find closure and be able to find out exactly what happened to their brother.

    “Namibia is a very beautiful country, and we hope to return again but under different circumstances. We have made some real connections with people here and have been grateful for all the support.”





    JANA-MARI SMITH

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  • 01/02/18--14:00: Chinese not 'tax exempt'
  • Chinese not 'tax exempt'Chinese not 'tax exempt'No till slips does not mean non-compliance, says commissioner Inland Revenue encourages consumers to alert it to suspected tax evasion. Contrary to pervasive perceptions, Chinese businesses operating in Namibia are not tax exempt and all persons – natural or juristic – doing business here and regardless of nationality are obliged to account for tax obligations in respect to all taxes.

    However, Inland Revenue commissioner Justice Mwafongwe acknowledged that the Ministry of Finance does not have an idea what the rate of tax compliance among Chinese businesses is.

    “The problem in Namibia is that we have not conducted such research. We have done an investigation, but not research. One can do research on what is called a tax gap and do an analysis. But we have investigated taxpayers, including Chinese businesses, and some have been arrested for tax evasion,” Mwafongwe said.

    A tax gap is the difference between total amounts of taxes owed to the government against the amount actually received. This is usually caused when taxpayers overstate deductions and understate their income to pay fewer taxes. Late-paying taxpayers also cause a tax gap.

    Mwafongwe stressed that foreigners in general are not exempted from paying tax here.

    “Our tax system is not based on nationality but on the source of income, meaning that all income received, or deemed to be, from a Namibian source is taxed in Namibia. Similarly, any tax exemption is based on income, not the person who received the income. This means that it is the specific income that is exempted from taxation and not the recipient who receives such income,” said Mwafongwe.





    There are, however, foreigners who claim tax exemption in accordance with the Income Tax Act of 1981.

    Under this law an exemption on tax is applicable to foreigners with diplomatic status only. It makes provision for tax relief allowable to certain diplomats, diplomatic and consular missions and public international organisations, and in respect of certain technical assistance agreements.

    Diplomats are authorised to claim a refund of tax paid on condition that they provide all tax invoices in support of each amount of tax claimed.

    There are, however, no tax refunds on consumables by foreign nationals. This means that foreigners cannot claim tax refunds when buying food or drinks.



    Perceptions

    Ordinary Namibians have stated in SMSes and on social media platforms that Chinese businesses seem to be either tax exempt or receive special treatment from the Namibian tax regime.

    This is surmised on the premise that there is a special bilateral arrangement between the two countries or ruling parties that the Namibian people are uninformed about.

    There have been Namibian suppliers who noted that Chinese construction companies asked them not to bill them for value-added tax (VAT) because they [the Chinese businesses] “do not pay VAT”.

    Namibian consumers at Chinese retailers have similarly on numerous occasions wondered if Chinese shops are evading tax or are tax exempt because they do not provide till slips on transactions. It is thus not clear if Chinese shops pay VAT.

    Mwafongwe reiterated that there are no special arrangements between the governments but said that it is not a requirement that consumers be issued with tax invoices if they do not so request.

    “The [Income Tax] Act does not compel the supplier to issue one [tax invoice] but this does not mean that such supplier is not VAT compliant. Of course, the supplier becomes VAT non-compliant if he or she refuses to issue a tax invoice upon request by the purchaser,” Mwafongwe said.



    He said the Inland Revenue department is aware that there are businesses that “sometimes refuse to issue invoices to their clients for reasons only known to them”.



    This, he said, could be because they do not charge VAT or they are not registered for VAT or they are non-compliant with tax obligations.



    Huh?

    A short visit to China Town on Newcastle Street in Windhoek to test the waters confirmed the complaints that the shops there in general do not issue till slips for purchases.

    Most shopkeepers claimed not to understand questions put to them regarding VAT registration, VAT compliance or the absence of till slips.

    Many would not be questioned, merely responding: “Boss not here; boss in China.”

    Others said they do indeed provide till slips, which on closer look are tax invoices written out in undecipherable Chinese with no indication of a VAT registration number.

    Of the 15 shopkeepers approached, only one, who merely identified himself as Alex, at a fabric and textile shop, said the shop is in fact VAT registered. Alex, however, would not present a till slip produced for customers.



    Not only the chinese, says mwafongwe

    Companies registering a profit of more than N$500 000 per year are required to register for VAT.

    An observer pointed out that if Chinese shops do not register for VAT it would mean that they either do not clock up more than N$500 000 in profits per year or obviously that they do not fully declare their profits.

    This observer commented that it would be unlikely for Chinese businesses to travel around the world remain in businesses which do not make profit beyond the N$500 000 threshold.

    Mwafongwe countered that the issue of not issuing tax invoices or receipts is not limited to Chinese businesses.

    “This is a serious concern to us as it undermines revenue reporting. We are thus appealing to the general public to demand valid tax invoices after paying for goods at any shop irrespective of the owner. Those that do not provide invoices but charge VAT should know that such action is contrary to tax laws and further actions will be taken against them should they be found. Members of the public are urged to report any business that refuses to issue a tax invoice to any nearest tax office,” Mwafongwe said.

    CATHERINE SASMAN

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    Swartbooi lays out 2018 plansSwartbooi lays out 2018 plans The leader of the Landless People's Movement (LPM), Bernadus Swartbooi, told Namibian Sun the “gloves will be coming off this year” as his movement and its supporters are poised to take on what he terms a “corrupt” government and “dictator-like” president.

    The movement plans to establish an anti-corruption coalition as well as to push for free tertiary education.

    Swartbooi said President Hage Geingob's recent refusal to entertain questions from the media on how much he made from selling his stake in the so-called N$1 billion township deal, which has been conditionally approved to establish a new upmarket village in the Klein Windhoek townlands, is unacceptable.

    According to him, this refusal is testimony that Geingob “believes himself to be an emperor appointed by God” and is an attempt to “privatise the public space”.

    “What if he makes his money illegally? That is exactly how dictators speak and it shows that he is hiding something.

    “I can assure you many ministers will follow in his footsteps and say what they do is none of your business,” said Swartbooi.





    He told Namibian Sun that he questions the motivation for Geingob to have defended Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) director-general Paulus Noa as being unfairly targeted.

    “It makes one wonder what kind of connection is there between the two of them,” he suggested.

    Meanwhile, Swartbooi, who is a practising lawyer, said his movement plans to take government to court for cases such as the SME Bank saga.

    “Many high-ranking officials were involved and they are held accountable, we cannot allow this.”



    Free tertiary education

    The former lands deputy minister insisted that pushing for free tertiary education for the first qualification is a very responsible proposition.

    He rejected claims that the country may not afford it saying corruption is what has created the economic meltdown in Namibia.



    “The unnecessary spending must stop. Other economies are growing so what happened here? If you fight corruption and manage your money properly then you will have money to pay for things such as education, healthcare and housing,” he said.

    According to him government created “a massive problem” when it turned away the masses of grade 10 and 12 dropouts since 1990.

    “And even those that pass cannot afford to continue because they do not have the money to study further. This is a growing problem and it frustrates people daily, “he said.



    Working class

    He is of the view that workers are exploited because of the political affiliation of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), which according to him hampers civil servants to be heard because they may “bite the hand that feeds them”.



    “We are looking at launching a workers council that will address the plight of the Namibian worker,” he said.

    JEMIMA BEUKES

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    Nandi-Ndaitwah out of the woodsNandi-Ndaitwah out of the woods Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah has been moved out of the intensive care unit and is now recuperating in a general ward at the Medi-Clinic private hospital in Windhoek.

    Her husband, Lieutenant-General Epaphras Denga Ndaitwah, who has remained by her bedside, yesterday expressed his family's condolences to the bereaved families of the two men who died in the same accident.

    Namibian Sun found Ndaitwah as he was reading the daily newspaper while a physiotherapist treated his wife.

    “My wife is fine, recovering very well, and at quite a speed. It is sad that such precious lives were lost. As a family we are deeply saddened by this,” he said.

    The deputy prime minister had just taken a walk in the hospital corridors before Namibian Sun arrived, her husband said.

    The deputy prime minister's official vehicle collided head-on with an Opel Corsa bakkie on the Tsumeb-Oshivelo road on Thursday last week.

    She and her driver sustained serious injuries while the two occupants of the oncoming vehicle died.

    They were identified as 27-year-old Sem Shafishuna Iiyagaya and 33-year-old Nghipangelwa Paulus.

    According to the police three cars were in her motorcade.

    She was first admitted to the Tsumeb State Hospital but soon airlifted to Medi-Clinic where she was placed in the ICU.





    The medical evacuation team would not provide any details on the flight, saying the matter is confidential.

    According to General Ndaitwah, the driver, who remained at the Tsumeb State Hospital, has since been discharged and is recuperating at home with his family.

    “With the grace of God he could spend New Year's Eve with his family and out of hospital,” he said.

    JEMIMA BEUKES

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    Steinhoff troubles date back to 2015Steinhoff troubles date back to 2015 NAMPA/REUTERS

    Financial troubles at South African retailer Steinhoff deepened on Tuesday as it said its 2015 results would have to be restated and maybe earlier figures as well, having already warned on its 2016 numbers.

    The owner of more than 40 retail brands including Conforama, Mattress Firm and Poundland is fighting for survival after last month flagging accounting irregularities and parting ways with its chief executive.

    A review being carried out by accountants PwC now suggested that "accounting irregularities" may stretch beyond 2015, it said.

    "Whilst the internal review and investigation into the accounting irregularities have not yet concluded, the restatement of the financial statements ... for years prior to 2015 is likely to be required," Steinhoff said in a statement.

    The company last month postponed its 2017 results until the investigation is over.

    Steinhoff shares have since fallen by more than 90%, wiping billions of dollars off its market value.

    It warned then that there was a €2 billion (US$2.4 billion) hole in its balance sheet and has said since that some credit facilities have been suspended or withdrawn as it grapples with more than €10 billion in outstanding debt.

    Separately, the company has been under investigation for suspected accounting fraud in Germany since 2015. It moved its primary share listing from Johannesburg to Frankfurt late that year.

    Four current and former managers are under suspicion of having overstated revenue at subsidiaries, prosecutors said.

    Steinhoff has said the German investigation relates to whether revenue was booked properly, and whether taxable profits were correctly declared.

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    Kazapua dedicates CHAN to late fatherKazapua dedicates CHAN to late fatherAnkle injury hits Spiegel Goalkeeper Calvin Spiegel's dream of playing in the African Nations Championships (CHAN) was ended by an ankle injury, making Loydt Kazapua a definite choice. Brave Warriors goalkeeper Loydt Kazapua says he will play with all his heart in the CHAN competition and will also dedicate every match to his late father.

    Kazapua is currently in camp with the national team in Tunisia where they are preparing for the 2018 African Nations Championships (CHAN) competition slated for Morocco this month.

    The keeper lost his father in mid-December and has vowed to play in his memory at the competition.

    “I feel blessed and honoured to be able to represent my country in such a competition. Oh I thank the Almighty for the talent that he gave me.

    “It will be my first major competition apart from the Cosafa Cup and I am really looking forward to doing well for my country.

    “I will also dedicate every match I play to my late father who passed on in December last year,” Kazapua said.

    In the past, Kazapua has been troubled by a shoulder injury that has kept him on the sidelines on many occasions.

    But he assures Namibian Sun that the problem is something of the past and that he is fit enough to play.

    “I can assure you that I am in great shape and I am fit enough to have a very good tournament.

    “However, that is all up to my coach on whether I will be in the starting line-up or not,” Kazapua says.

    Meanwhile, Namibia's injury problems continue after goalkeeper Calvin Spiegel was ruled out of the team with an ankle injury.

    This follows the team's announcement that Immanuel Heita was also ruled out of the competition because of a knee injury.

    Namibia will also be without their CHAN qualification hero Muna Katupose, who is nursing a knee injury.

    Namibia qualified to the competition after beating Zimbabwe and the Comoros in the qualifying rounds.

    The tournament will see the 2015 Cosafa champions playing Zambia, Uganda and African powerhouse Ivory Coast in the group stages.

    The Brave Warriors open their campaign against Ivory Coast on 14 January before battling Uganda on 18 January, with their final group stage game slated for 22 January against Zambia.

    Morocco heads Group A and will face Sudan, Guinea and Mauritania in Casablanca while Namibia and company will contest in Marrakech.

    Libya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea are in Group C and will play in Tangier while in Agadir; Group D will take centre stage with Angola, Cameroon, Congo and Burkina Faso.

    The quarterfinals will be played on 27 and 28 January, while the semi-finals will be held on 31 January 2018.

    The third-place match will be on 3 February and the grand finale is slated for 4 February 2018 at the newly refurbished Mohamed V Complex in Casablanca.

    “It is unfortunate that we have been hit by injuries during these crucial moments in our preparations.

    “I am however optimistic that the remaining guys will do us proud because they have been working so hard in training,” coach Ricardo Mannetti said.

    Here is 23 Brave Warriors for the 2018 CHAN finals: Edward Maova, Charles Uirab, Lodyt Kazapua, Ferdinand Karongee, Tiberius Lombard, Charles Hambira, Edmund Kambanda, Dynamo Fredericks, Hendrick Somaeb, Petrus Shitembi, Benyamin Nenkavu, Ronald Ketjijere, Emilio Martin, Absalom Iimbondi, Roger Katjiteo, Kleopas Useb, Vitapi Ngaruka, Panduleni Nekundi, Junias Theophilus, Riaan Hanamub, Oswaldo Xamseb, Itamunua Keimuine and Himeezembi Hengombe.

    JESSE JACKSON KAURAISA

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