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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

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  • 01/04/18--14:00: SHOT OF
  • SHOT OFSHOT OF SKY ON FIRE: A Palestinian fisherman paddles his boat at sunset off the coast of Gaza City. PHOTO: NAMPA/AFP

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  • 01/04/18--14:00: Reactionary policies
  • Reactionary policiesReactionary policies The budget cuts in Namibia have made headlines for months.

    While the causes are clear and by now we should know what to do to avoid these recessions in our small far too vulnerable country, we are still shocked that these cuts have filtered through to the health and education ministries.

    Certainly there are other areas where we can cut a little? Advisory councils, consultants, travel and S&T seem to be most apt to take the chop.

    Ministers travel all over the country and the world and oftentimes, stay for weeks, with delegations at these far-off places. The botched trip to Sochi towards the end of the year, is one such example.

    Now we hear that 85% of the total, but cut, budget of the education ministry goes to wages.

    What was it before the budget cuts of N$300-odd million? Around 75%?

    And yet we think this is in order?

    We are also very surprised that the ministry did not plan ahead… we have all known of the economic crisis for months now.

    Schools open next week and yet, there is still no indication of which teachers will be moved or transferred to other schools or regions, from 'overstaffed' schools.

    Many young graduates who are ready to teach our children do not know if they have a job.

    How is this possible? We have a few days before children must be registered and the very next day, they are to sit in their classes and meet their teachers and education must begin.

    Or shall be it delayed for a few weeks while the ministry sorts out who must go where?

    The problem in Namibia, and we have said this repeatedly, is that we are a reactionary lot. We do not plan, we do not prepare. We never think ahead.

    The water crisis in Windhoek is another case in point.

    The services of health and education are not to be compromised. This is like going to the bottle store and skipping the bread and milk because you are in January and your funds are low.

    Utterly unacceptable. We need to get our house in order. The children and the sick rely on us.

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  • 01/04/18--14:00: Delays hog Tesla’s Model 3
  • Delays hog Tesla’s Model 3Delays hog Tesla’s Model 3Second delay in as many months Car maker Tesla has had to push back the Model 3 production target again, despite progress made. NAMPA/REUTERS



    Tesla Incorporated delayed a production target for its new Model 3 sedan for the second time on Wednesday, disappointing investors even as it claimed "major progress" overcoming manufacturing challenges that have hampered the vehicle's rollout.

    The electric vehicle maker headed by Elon Musk said it would likely build about 2 500 Model 3s per week by the end of the first quarter, half the number it had earlier promised. Instead, Tesla said it now plans to reach its goal of 5 000 vehicles per week by the end of the second quarter.

    The delay sent shares of the Palo Alto, California-based company down 2% in after-market trading.

    The Model 3 is critical to Tesla's long-term success, as it is the most affordable of its cars to date and is the only one capable of transforming the niche automaker to a mass producer amid a sea of rivals entering the nascent electric vehicle market.

    Building the car efficiently and delivering it without delays to customers is also critical, as the money-losing company faces high cash burn. Delays increase the risk that reservation-holders will cancel orders.

    "The further delay to (production volume) will leave analysts and investors focused on the implications for cash as we head through the first half of the year, Evercore analyst George Galliers told Reuters.

    The company burned through US$1.1 billion in capital expenditures in its third quarter and said in November that fourth-quarter capex would also be about US$1.1 billion.

    RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak wrote in a note that he did not believe Tesla will be required to do a capital raise.

    "We have them hovering about US$1 billion in cash ... They don't have a ton of wiggle room though in our view," Spak said.

    In delivering 1 550 of its new Model 3 electric vehicles in the fourth quarter, Tesla fell short of Wall Street expectations. Analysts had expected 4 100 Model 3 sedans to be delivered in the fourth quarter, according to financial data and analytics firm FactSet.

    The estimates for Model 3 deliveries by different brokerages varied widely. While Evercore analysts estimated 5 800 deliveries, Cowen analysts expected just 2 250.

    Tesla said 860 Model 3 vehicles were in transit to customers at the end of the fourth quarter.

    The company said it delivered a total of 29 870 vehicles in the fourth quarter, including 15 200 Model S vehicles and 13 120 Model X cars. Analysts had expected total deliveries of about 30 000.

    PRODUCTION ACCELERATING

    Tesla had initially predicted to reach the milestone of 5 000 vehicles per week in December, but in November deferred the target to the end of the first quarter.

    Tesla said on Wednesday its production rate had increased significantly despite the delays.

    "In the last seven working days of the quarter, we made 793 Model 3s, and in the last few days, we hit a production rate on each of our manufacturing lines that extrapolates to over 1 000 Model 3s per week," the company said in a statement. That pace of production is still below that of many carmakers. A conventional car factory operating at full speed on two shifts can churn out nearly 1 000 vehicles a day.

    The Model 3 - which starts at US$35 000, or about half the price of its flagship Model S - was met with great enthusiasm when its prototype was first unveiled in early 2016. Tesla said in August it had about 500 000 reservations for the car and demand was not a constraint.

    Production, however, hit snags during a period of "manufacturing hell" Musk first warned of in July. Among the issues Tesla faced was its battery module assembly line at its Nevada Gigafactory, which required a redesign.

    In its third quarter, Tesla built just 260 Model 3s.

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  • 01/04/18--14:00: Rebate drop irks gym goers
  • Rebate drop irks gym goersRebate drop irks gym goers Fitness centre members are unhappy about the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa) decision to cancel gym rebates.

    Namfisa late last year announced that medical aid funds were not permitted to offer gym rebates and other wellness programmes as part of their benefits, with effect from 15 December 2017.

    The Virgin Active gym operations manager, Brylen Beukes, said the cancellation came as a surprise as they were not consulted prior to its implementation.

    Beukes said that since the rebate cancellation came around the festive season when everyone went on holiday, there was no significant indication of retraction as yet by gym members.

    “However, I am convinced that some members will quit the gym due to financial constraints,” added Beukes.

    Virgin Active member, Gaby Ahrens said the decision to stop the rebate would force people to stop living a healthy lifestyle as they were motivated to go to the gym knowing that the medical aid would refund the expenses.

    “I will now be forced to see which gym is cost effective just to continue living the healthy lifestyle I have come to maintain,” she said.

    Another gym member, Zocks Nghikundwa said it was unfair towards people who hardly use their medical aid for medical treatment, but rather for the gym.

    “The more one is in the gym, the less likely a person is to visit hospitals because of the healthy lifestyle that comes from exercise,” said Nghikundwa. Namibia Health Plan (NHP) finance manager, Joel Handuba said the rebate programme was meant to encourage their clients to live healthily.

    “Now with the cancellation, for a client this means a less healthy lifestyle and more medical claims,” he said.

    Handuba explained that NHP used to refund members up to 80% for 20 gym sessions, meaning the client would pay N$600 for the gym and get back N$400 from NHP.

    Members of NHP, Namibia Medical Care, Nammed Medical Aid, Heritage Health Namibia and Prosperity Health are affected by the cancellation of gym rebates.

    NAMPA

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    Peak season, not systems to blame for Buitepos chaosPeak season, not systems to blame for Buitepos chaos The home affairs ministry denies that the new biometric immigration systems are to blame for the chaotic conditions reported at the eastern Buitepos border post over the festive season.

    Home affairs spokesperson Salome Kambala told Namibian Sun yesterday that the ministry was notified in December of the long queues and complaints at the Buitepos border post, but said the long delays were simply related to peak travel season.

    “The problem is attributed to peak traveller numbers and it has nothing to do with the machines or the system. It is just the pressure of travellers who are travelling over this holiday season that caused it.”

    In December, some claimed that they were forced to wait from about two to seven hours at a time to have their paperwork processed, and that the Buitepos border post can only process two persons at a time as it is equipped with only two terminals.

    About a week before Christmas, an estimated 60 to 80 vehicles stood in line to cross on a Saturday and as many as 100 people were still waiting to have their passports processed close to midnight, it was reported.

    One woman reportedly momentarily lost consciousness after standing in line for hours, with no seating available and complaints of unkempt toilet facilities were also received.

    The chaos was blamed by most on border post personnel who were not prepared for the high influx of people and the new biometric systems.

    However, Kambala emphasised that the new “system is excellent and working very well. It is not the system that is not functioning; it is the pressure of people coming in and people going out.”

    She added that the ministry “kindly requests the public to bear with us. By next week, we won't hear any more complaints, because the holiday period is over.”

    A Namibian, who declined to be named, however said the fact that home affairs did not prepare for the increase in traffic and the inevitable delays were an embarrassment for Namibia and bad for tourism.

    Kambala added that immigration officials were sufficiently trained on the system last year and that new appointments or overtime did not fit budgetary constraints.

    “There is no need for extra training of our immigration officials. They know their job,” she said.

    She added that in terms of manpower as “with the economic situation we try to avoid overtime these days … and if government says we must cut costs how will we pay if we appoint more people.”

    She said overall the ministry tries “our level best to manage with the officials who are on duty. Some of them do sometimes sacrifice vacation to manage the border posts.”

    In an SMS sent to Namibian Sun's sister publication, Republikein, a frustrated Namibian who experienced several long hours at the border post, wrote: “The chaos at the border post is something to scream about. The ministry of home affairs is hurting Namibia's image, especially its tourism image.” Another reader wrote that the lack of service at the border post is a red sign for visitors.

    “We are chasing away tourists!”

    However, Kambala told Namibian Sun yesterday that in comparison to many other countries on the continent “Namibia's borders are very well managed. We never hear stories where people are forced to sleep at the border. In many African countries people sleep at the borders waiting to be able to cross.”

    She said the ministry can guarantee that “no matter how long it takes, everyone will be cleared” but urged for patience.

    She also noted that custom services and police checks at the border posts can add to waiting times.

    Namibian Sun was informed by a Namibian who witnessed some of the chaos over the festive season that people were only spared having to sleep at the border post after the new system was ditched.

    “They often had to simply skip the new protocols and just stamp passports like before to allow everyone to pass through before the offices closed.”

    He added that the ministry “does not grasp that these visitors help to pay their salaries. They play a big role in bringing money into the country. They made absolutely no provision to be able to efficiently deal with the influx over the festive season.”

    Gitta Paetzold of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) said the news of fresh chaos erupting at border posts is disappointing and is harmful for the country's tourism image.

    She added that the issue of money as an excuse for a lack of organisation and efficiency is not acceptable.

    “It is a matter of cooperation and communication,” she said, explaining that other tourism stakeholders should be consulted on important issues affecting tourism. She said the ministry of home affairs is a critical tourism development partner whose role in welcoming tourists to the country is crucial.

    She added that the country's tourism sector is working hard to polish its image as a prime tourism destination, and professional services and service delivery is not only important at accommodation but also at the entry and exit points of the country.

    JANA-MARI SMITH

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    Kunene's Kamseb remains on suspensionKunene's Kamseb remains on suspension With the new governor Marius Sheya to take office this week, it is reported that the Kunene Region finds itself in a dilemma following the illegal suspension of the chief regional officer (CRO), George Kamseb, in October 2016.

    The regional council has forked out close to N$1 million in salaries and benefits for Kamseb and the acting CRO for almost a year and three months, although no action has been taken against Kamseb.

    It is further stated that Kamseb, who was suspended with his full salary and benefits, has refused to come back to work without being given a reason as to why he was forced to take leave in the first place, after his suspension was ruled as illegal by the Public Service Commission (PSC). Kamseb who is reportedly farming full time, told Namibian Sun yesterday that nothing was communicated to him on paper by the council since his suspension a year and three months ago.

    “Since my suspension I have not received any letter from council. I am still waiting to hear from them. Until now I do not know why I am suspended,” Kamseb said. He could neither confirm nor deny whether council had communicated with him via telephone. The council chairperson Julius Kaujova said that they are waiting for the urban and rural development ministry to advise them on the way forward.

    “We have tried our best in this matter. For any progress on the matter you must ask the urban and rural development ministry,” Kaujova said.

    Kaujova said that Kamseb had been investigated on number of issues and also on why he could not fully implement a number of council resolutions.

    “As a council we feel that there was incompetency and a deliberate ignorance of the mandate. We are also investigating issues of his appointment,” Kaujova said. On 19 October 2016, the council served Kamseb with a letter ordering him to stay away from the regional council building until further notice, however his suspension was ruled as illegal by the PSC two months later.

    Last year the PSC chairperson, Marcus Kampungu, told Namibian Sun that the council made a mistake by suspending Kamseb without consulting them.

    “We received the suspension request from Kunene in November 2016, a month after they had suspended him. However, we rejected the request to suspend him. For us to suspend there must be grounds that the official in question could interfere with investigations but in their request there was no grounds for this.” Kampungu said.

    Kampungu added that they advised Kunene to charge Kamseb while he was still on duty, but the council never got back to them. According to a well-placed source, Kamseb was suspended after allegedly failing to provide the council with his employment contract, and he is now enjoying his salary and benefits at his farm. CROs earn in the salary range of N$489 661 to N$519 632 per year, the same as a deputy permanent secretary. They also get a monthly housing allowance of N$7 506 as well as a car allowance of N$10 936.

    Deputy directors earn in the range of N$421 859 to N$443 502, receive a car allowance of N$5 993 on the capital cost, and N$2 145 on the running costs.

    However, the Regional Council Act No 22 of 1992 read together with the Public Servant's Act No 2 of 1980 do not specify an official's term of suspension.

    The director of general services, Joseph Jantze, is the acting CRO.

    ILENI NANDJATO

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  • 01/04/18--14:00: Festive season brings no joy
  • Festive season brings no joyFestive season brings no joyVendors say no one came During the festive season vendors at open markets in the north hope to score big bucks as many people travel for the holidays, however this time around, it was not the case for them. Vendors at the Oshakati open market say although they received a large number of visitors during the festive season, it was business as usual for them as they did not make the high profits as anticipated during this time of the year.

    Namibian Sun yesterday visited the market where vendors were doing the usual of manning their stalls and waiting for potential buyers to purchase their products, saying that it was the same situation during December.

    The vendors told Namibian Sun they did not make good business at all saying that people would only ask for prices but not buy.

    “Yes, we did have a lot of people in the open market in December but they would just walk around, ask for prices and promise to come back, which did not happen,” a vendor, who identified herself as Martha, said.

    “We were looking forward to doing good business during this time when people are coming from various towns but this December was just like any other month,” Martha added.

    Another vendor spoken to said that the issue of the country's economic situation should not be used as an excuse making reference to her observation that supermarkets were always full in December and people would be purchasing a lot of items at once.

    She said people should not say they do not have money but rather that they do not want to support the local people trying to make a living.

    “During December, when you went into those supermarkets they were always full to capacity and people were mostly shopping with the big trolleys. This is not good for us and for the country because while Namibians are trying to make a living from selling locally produced items, we still buy from those shops which are not locally owned,” the vendor argued.

    Meanwhile, the vendors at the Oshakati open market have been demonstrating for many months now arguing that the monthly rental set by the Town Council is too high as they are not making enough to make ends meet.

    Council has responded to the petitions, saying that the prices are reasonable.

    KENYA KAMBOWE

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    Low inflation worrisome for US FedLow inflation worrisome for US FedInflation set to dominate discussions going forward Fed policymakers see future interest rate rises guided by inflation and fiscal stimulus programmes. NAMPA/REUTERS



    US Federal Reserve policymakers showed worry over the fate of currently low inflation and saw recent tax changes as providing a boost to consumer spending, according to the minutes of the US central bank's last policy meeting on December 12 and 13 released on Wednesday.

    The details of the meeting, at which the Fed raised interest rates for the fifth time since the 2008 financial crisis, also showed that officials have a similar lack of certainty over the impact of fiscal stimulus on raising price pressures.

    "Most participants reiterated their support for continuing a gradual approach to raising the target range, noting that this approach helped to balance risks to the outlook for economic activity and inflation," the Fed said in the minutes.

    They then mulled the dual possibilities that the Trump administration's tax cuts or easy financial conditions could cause inflation pressures to build unduly, while at the same time also considering that actual or expected inflation may fail to rise to the Fed's 2% target.

    US stocks were little changed following the publication of the minutes and US Treasury yields were little changed. The US dollar extended gains against a basket of currencies.

    The inflation shortfall is set to dominate incoming Fed Chair Jerome Powell's first few months as chief of the central bank with further rate increases more difficult to justify without an upswing. He is set to take over from Janet Yellen by the time of the next rate-setting meeting on January 31 to February 1.

    "They have been taking a middle-of-the road on their policy approach...if inflation picks up, they will go faster [on rate rises]. If things slow down, they will go slower," said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities in Stamford, Connecticut.

    FED SEES FISCAL BOOST

    At its December meeting, the Fed kept its forecast for three rate rises this year and in 2019 unchanged even as policymakers anticipated a short-term boost in U.S. economic growth from the Trump administration's sweeping US$1.5 trillion tax overhaul signed into law on December 22, 2017.

    The tax changes reduce the corporate rate from 35% to 21% and temporarily cuts the taxes paid by most individuals as well. In the minutes, many policymakers "expected the proposed cuts in personal taxes to provide some boost to consumer spending" and many characterised the changes in business taxes as likely to provide a modest boost to capital spending.

    "However, some business contacts...noted that the increase in cash flow that would result...was more likely to be used for mergers and acquisitions or for debt reduction and stock buybacks," the minutes said.

    In December, the Fed forecast ultra-low unemployment of below 4% in 2018 and 2019, but still predicted inflation would remain below 2% at the end of 2018.

    The mystery of low inflation in such a robust economy has prompted debate at the Fed for the past several months and was the concern of the two policymakers who voted against a rate increase at last month's meeting.

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  • 01/04/18--14:00: Shortage of rabies vaccine
  • Shortage of rabies vaccineShortage of rabies vaccineMain international supply on hold According to the health ministry it is struggling to supply human rabies vaccine to health facilities and the situation will not be resolved soon. For the past few months government hospitals and clinics have been running out of human rabies vaccine, which forces people to turn to private pharmacies - a costly exercise for many people who depend on state services.

    Apart from the hundreds of dollars people have to spend on getting the rabies vaccine shot at private pharmacies, some people have to travel over 100 kilometres to government health facilities where they could receive free rabies vaccine. This week Namibian Sun visited the Oshakati State Hospital, where a man had brought his daughter from as far as Onyaanya in the Oshikoto Region after a dog had bitten her.

    He said he had been to a number of other health facilities, which referred him to Oshakati.

    The girl received an injection but a nurse told them that they would be lucky to get a follow-up shot, as vaccines run out quickly and it sometimes takes months before they get stock again.

    In December, a source who was bitten by a dog in Windhoek and then travelled to the north could not get his second rabies shot as there was nothing at the Oshakati State Hospital.

    “I was bitten by a dog in Windhoek and I came to the north for the holidays. As my day to get another shot arrived I went to the Oshakati State Hospital. To my surprise the lady I found there told me they did not have the rabies vaccine for months. I am unemployed and I do not have money to go to the pharmacy. What do I do now,” the source asked. In an interview with Namibian Sun yesterday, acting health permanent secretary Dr Dawid Uirab said the ministry was aware of the situation and it would not be solved anytime soon. Uirab said the shortage at the Central Medical Stores was caused by the fact that one of the major international vaccine suppliers had changed the formulation and needed to re-register the vaccine.

    “The shortage of rabies vaccine in the country is not going to be solved now. What I have found out from our Central Medical Stores is that one of the major suppliers of rabies internationally has changed the formulation and when they do that they have to get new registrations so now they are not producing at the moment until that process is completed, so there is an international shortage of rabies vaccines,” Uirab explained.

    Uirab said the other international companies supplying the vaccine were not able to satisfy the demand.

    In 2015 it was reported that Namibia had recorded an average of 520 human cases of rabies per year since 2010.

    KENYA KAMBOWE

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  • 01/04/18--14:00: Chances of rain are good
  • Chances of rain are goodChances of rain are good Wetter weather conditions are expected to develop across most of Namibia over the next two weeks, bringing much-needed rainfall to parts that have been hot and dry for several weeks.

    The Namibia Meteorological Service's (NMS) chief forecaster, Odillo Kgobetsi, told Namibian Sun yesterday that the weather prospects for the next week included light to moderate thundershowers that are expected in most areas except.

    He explained that the synoptic conditions include a deep surface low-pressure system that is developing over western Namibia.

    “A high-pressure system will be in circulation over Botswana. Hence these two systems will improve moisture over the Cuvelai - southern Angola - to stream into Namibia.”

    Between 13 and 20 January, Kgobetsi said a surface low-pressure system was expected to be dominant over Namibia.

    “A deep trough will be approaching from the west, enhancing further light to moderate thundershowers over Namibia, except in the extreme parts of the //Karas Region.” Moderate to heavy rainfall is likely in the extreme northwest towards the end of that period. While most of the country has been dry for the past weeks, yesterday's flood bulletin issued by the Namibia Hydrological Service confirmed that satellite images over the last 24 hours showed light showers over the far north-eastern parts of the country.

    The Zambezi River at Katima Mulilo is currently at 1.01 metres and water levels are higher than the same period last year.

    The Okavango River at Rundu is currently at 4.28 metres and water levels remain lower than those of the same period last year.

    According to the NamWater dam bulletin, the Von Bach Dam is at 60.3%, Swakoppoort Dam 40.8%, Omatako Dam 0.5%, Naute Dam 73.0%, Oanob 72.6%, and the Hardap Dam is at 44.9% of its capacity.

    JANA-MARI SMITH

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    TransNamib board confirms Smith as CEOTransNamib board confirms Smith as CEO TransNamib board member Elize Angula has confirmed that Walvis Bay Corridor Group CEO Johnny Smith has been appointed as TransNamib CEO and will start in February.

    This follows months of speculation that Smith was favoured to head the rail operator following the exit of former acting CEO Hippy Tjivikua late last year.

    Speaking to Angula telephonically yesterday, she said that Smith had been appointed, but TransNamib is yet to release an official statement announcing the appointment.

    Smith was also unwilling to comment on the matter when approached.

    The rail operator has been rudderless since the departure of former CEO Sara Katiti.

    Cabinet had in October 2017 already rubberstamped Smith's appointment as CEO but the TransNamib board was not particularly forthcoming with information on the matter.

    “At this stage I do not have any comment on it,” Smith said yesterday when asked about his probable TransNamib future.

    Smith is currently the CEO of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, a position he has held since 2006. He also previously enjoyed stints at TransNamib, where he worked in marketing, and at Telecom Namibia.

    OGONE TLHAGE

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    Young boy drowns at Henties BayYoung boy drowns at Henties Bay A ten-year-old boy drowned near Henties Bay after he was swept out to sea by strong waves on Wednesday.

    According to the Erongo crime investigation coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Erastus Iikuyu, the body of Lee-Wayne Delwin Nanubeb has not been recovered yet.

    Nanubeb had been swimming in the sea with friends when the tragedy struck.

    “The search for the body will continue. The five boys, aged between six and 10, were swimming in the sea when at about 14:00 they were all taken deeper into the sea by strong waves. One young man who was strolling on the beach saw the dilemma and went in, but he only managed to rescue the four younger boys,” said Iikuyu.

    The director of LifeLink Emergency Rescue Services, Brian Louw, confirmed that emergency personnel were called to a drowning incident at the beach.

    He said that the LifeLink crew retrieved the youngest survivor, a six-year-old child who was not breathing and had no heartbeat.

    “After a resuscitation attempt, the child started breathing again and was immediately transported to the Henties Bay clinic. The child was later transferred to Swakopmund for specialist care. The other child was responsive and was also hospitalised,” said Louw.

    This is the seventh reported drowning since just before Christmas.

    On 23 December, three persons drowned at the Von Bach Dam. They were Valentino Griffeths (21), Letichia Michaels (27) and Amalia Ndeshipanda Shilongo, age unknown.

    The next day, Ernst Isak Willems (20) drowned in the Fish River in the Keetmanshoop area near farm Driebos.

    On Christmas Day, the police reported that Maligareta Kadhila (67) drowned after she had attended a wedding at Ongongo.

    It is alleged she was dropped home after the wedding but was reported missing later after she failed to return to her house. She allegedly drowned in a canal at Ogongo.

    On 30 December, there were two more drownings. A six-year-old girl, Mwalimushi Gideon, allegedly fell into a well at Omukondo village after she and other children were sent there to fetch water.

    A 58-year-old Omaruru resident, Heinrich Dörgeloh, drowned at Pelican Bay south of Walvis Bay after the Land Cruiser he was driving was swept into the sea.

    At the time of going to print, it was not clear whether the body of the child had been retrieved.

    The Namibian police is expected to provide the public with a full summation of deaths, crimes and accidents over the festive season on 22 Janauary.

    JESSICA BOTES

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    Dampened interest in finding oilDampened interest in finding oilExploration spending declines for fifth straight year The quest for new oil discoveries is still on the back-burner as exploration spending contracts further. NAMPA/REUTERS



    Despite the strongest start for oil prices in four years, the world's top oil companies are hesitating to accelerate the search for new resources as a determination to retain capital discipline trumps the hope of making bonanza discoveries.

    Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and their peers are set to cut spending on oil and gas exploration for a fifth year in a row in 2018, according to consultancy Wood Mackenzie (WoodMac), despite a growing urgency to replenish reserves after years of reining back investment.

    Global investment in exploration, vital to increase output and offset the natural decline of existing fields, will reach US$37 billion in 2018, down 7 percent from a year earlier and over 60 percent below the 2014 peak, according to WoodMac.

    For majors, spending will collectively drop by around 4% this year to represent about a tenth of investment in oil and gas production, known as upstream.

    "This could be the new normal, with the days of one dollar in six or seven going to exploration forever in the past," WoodMac said in a report.

    The declines, however, mask a modest uptick in drilling activity as lower rig rates and a focused approach on well-charted basins allow firms to do more with their money, according to WoodMac analyst Andrew Latham.

    "Investment will be down year-on year but activity will be flat to slightly higher," he told Reuters in an interview.

    The collapse in oil prices in 2014 led to a deep retrenchment in spending for the sector, but companies still need to increase their resources as reserves dwindle.

    As crude prices and profits recover - prices are currently above US$65 a barrel, the highest since mid-2015 - the push to beef up reserves will only increase. The exploration success rate has dropped from 40% to 35% over the past decade, highlighting the importance of acquisitions as an alternative, albeit generally more expensive, to build resources.

    "Exploration spending (is) to remain low ... implying the need for more merger and acquisition" activity, analysts at RBC Capital Markets said.

    After spending more than US$30 billion on acquisitions in 2017, oil Majors are expected to continue to make bolt-on purchases in areas where they already operate, even though the "upstream M&A window is starting to close," RBC said, alluding to higher asset valuations and fewer distressed sellers.

    The majors will once again be the ones to watch thanks to stronger balance sheets compared with smaller rivals, WoodMac's Latham said.

    Exploration is expected to focus on deepwater basins such as Mexico, Brazil and Guyana where large discoveries have been made in recent years, offering more confidence that additional resources could be found, he added.

    The most watched exploration wells include BP and Kosmos Energy in Senegal, Total and Petrobras in Brazil, Exxon in Guyana, Total and Pemex in Mexico and Eni in Cyprus, according to WoodMac.

    The growing appetite for exploration was made clear last October when the top oil companies vied for blocks in Brazil's first deep-water oil auction for foreign operators, where Shell was awarded half of the blocks.

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    Germany snubs New York proceedingsGermany snubs New York proceedingsGenocide lawsuit 'violates state immunity' The German government has refused to be summonsed to appear in a New York court in a lawsuit filed by the descendants of the Namibian genocide. All indications are that Germany will not be appearing in a New York court for a federal class action lawsuit filed by the descendants of the OvaHerero and Nama people seeking restorative justice for the 1904-1908 genocide.

    The court hearing is scheduled for 25 January.

    Namibian Sun has learned that on 15 November the US Embassy reportedly attempted to deliver a summons to the German Foreign Office. However, Germany has refused to receive the summons, stating that it violates its 'state immunity'.

    The state secretary of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, Walter Lindner, reportedly indicated that his government would communicate this in an “appropriate manner” to the court in New York.

    Long-time chairperson of the Nama Genocide Technical Committee Ida Hoffmann said she was not surprised at this and that she did not expect them to turn up.

    She said the refusal was another manifestation of the German's contempt for the Nama and OvaHerero people.

    “It is not right what they are doing. We are using our money to buy air tickets. But I am still planning on going nonetheless, depending on what our lawyers will advise us to do,” she said.



    Not interested

    It is not the first time that Germany has rejected an attempt to have papers served on the government. The government failed to make an appearance in court last year, claiming they had not been served with any papers.

    Documents, however, showed that the German government was in fact served with summons on 5 January last year by order of the clerk of the court, listed as K. Lopez, and this summons was delivered to the German embassy in Washington DC.

    That time, the case was adjourned to 21 July and then postponed again to 13 October after a certain company, Crowe Foreign Service, engaged the victim groups' legal representative, Kenneth McCallion, in an attempt to serve the German government through The Hague Convention.

    This will be the third time Germany shuts the door on the Nama and OvaHerero descendants after it refused two attempts to accept summons served on its diplomatic missions in both Washington and New York.

    During a press briefing, after his return from the second court hearing last year, OvaHerero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro said that at the time the German government reportedly insisted that it wanted all legal processes to be served in terms of The Hague Convention, which provides for either serving such documents in the capital city of the defendant country, Berlin in this case, or alternatively to be served through diplomatic channels.

    JEMIMA BEUKES

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    Zambia looks for oil refinery partnersZambia looks for oil refinery partners NAMPA/XINHUA

    The Zambian government has invited bids for companies that would like to have a stake in a state oil refinery firm as a strategic equity partner, its investment agency said on Wednesday.

    The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) has invited prospective bidders to submit applications to pre-qualify for participation in the sale of majority stake in Indeni Petroleum Refinery Company Limited as a strategic equity partner.

    Prospective bidders were expected to have a minimum net worth of US$500 million in order to purchase a majority stake in the oil refinery firm, it added.

    The government has decided to sell its majority stake in the oil refinery firm in order to improve its operations.

    Last month, Minister of Energy David Mabumba said the government was looking for a strategic equity partner to improve productivity at the oil refinery situated in Ndola city on the Copperbelt Province.

    The oil refinery was commissioned in 1973, with a design to produce 1.1 million tons of oil per year but lack of investment has reduced the production capacity to 850 000 tons per year.

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    SA’s private-sector activity contractsSA’s private-sector activity contracts NAMPA/REUTERS

    South African private-sector economic activity contracted for a fifth consecutive month in December as factory output and new orders fell, a survey showed yesterday.

    The Standard Bank Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), compiled by IHS Markit, fell to 48.4 in December from 48.8 in November, staying below the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction for a fifth straight month. It was the lowest reading April 2016.

    Lack of demand, and therefore output, led companies to continue to cut workforce numbers, purchasing activity and inventories. The country shed 83 000 formal jobs between September 2016 and September 2017, Statistics South Africa said in December.

    A reduction in business activity was the main influence over the decline in business conditions, the survey said. Contractions in output were linked to a lack of client demand and challenging market conditions, it said.

    Africa's most industrialised economy emerged from a recession in the second half of 2017, but growth is expected to remain subdued following credit downgrades to "junk" by S&P Global and Fitch. Business and consumer confidence remain at record lows.

    Meanwhile, the rand edged weaker yesterday as strong data from the United States and increasing signs of higher interest rates there dampened sentiment and brought local economic fundamentals back into focus.

    With trade volumes still subdued in the first week of the year, the rand has swung between 12.26 and 12.50, hanging on to recent gains.

    The rand rallied to its firmest level in two-and-a-half years after Cyril Ramaphosa was elected President Jacob Zuma's successor as head of the African National Congress (ANC) two weeks ago.

    Analysts have however warned that the weak economic fundamentals locally and higher lending rates in the United States could outweigh optimism of economic reform and scupper the currency's strong run.

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    Pollution is a ticking time-bombPollution is a ticking time-bomb The ministry of health appears to have on its hands a massive health crisis which was in fact predicted in a 2017 publication about informal settlements and the accompanying lack of hygiene.

    In the last two weeks, 152 cases of confirmed and suspected Hepatitis E have been reported in most of the informal settlements and some of the lesser developed parts of Katutura.

    Of these 152 cases, one person has died, two were admitted to the Katutura State Hospital and Roman Catholic Private Hospital, while the rest were sent home following treatment.

    This was confirmed by acting health permanent secretary Dr Dawid Uirab, who said the situation was under control as health workers and volunteers were raising awareness of the disease and scouting for new infections.

    He pointed out that not all the cases were laboratory confirmed.

    The symptoms of hepatitis E include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, jaundice (discoloration of eyes), dark urine, clay-coloured stools and pain in the joints.

    The virus is transmitted via the faecal-oral route, principally via contaminated drinking water, and the disease is most common in areas with limited access to water, sanitation, hygiene and health services.

    According to Uirab, the outbreak is concentrated in the Havana informal settlement, followed by the Goreangab, Greenwell Matongo and Ombili informal settlements.





    These are the parts of Windhoek that have very poor sanitation as many are still making use of makeshift toilets or shared municipal ablutions and communal taps prone to contamination.

    The publication titled 'Informal Settlements in Namibia: Their Nature and Growth' states that water in Windhoek's Goreangab Dam is badly contaminated by domestic and human waste, with much of the pollution coming from surrounding informal settlements.

    It further states that it is widely believed that pollution from Windhoek badly contaminated water in the Swakoppoort Dam in 2011 when heavy rain swept large volumes of waste into the dam.

    By 2017, the water in the dam remained so contaminated that it could only be used in a diluted state.

    As one of Windhoek's major sources of water, Swakoppoort's contamination is an extremely serious problem, especially when other water sources are meagre.

    In her foreword to the publication, housing minister Sophia Shaningwa said the publication served as a wake-up call, showing that Namibia was running out of time.

    “Many have pointed out correctly that informal settlements have no place in an upper-middle-income country. This research clearly shows that what is needed foremost to redress the situation is the provision of legal land to the urban poor.

    “With local authorities leading the way, I strongly encourage banks and the private sector to support such action. Innovative thinking is needed, as well as pragmatic approaches. Ignoring the urgent need for low-cost land demonstrates sightedness and a lack of understanding that we are bound together as a society and a country,” she said.

    JEMIMA BEUKES

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    Empty pockets at start of school yearEmpty pockets at start of school yearExpenses a large burden for struggling parents Mothers in the informal settlements of Windhoek are concerned about how they are going to make ends meet, as children will begin the first term of school next week and their expenses far outweigh their income. Next week Wednesday, all government and most private schools will open for the new school year and parents, mainly young single mothers, are faced with the harsh reality of not being able to afford the costs involved with sending their children back to school.

    Margaret Namises, a mother of three, told Namibian Sun that her main concern is sourcing the funds to pay for her youngest child's taxi fare every day.

    “We stay in Okahandja Park and my son will be in grade 3.

    “He goes to Khomasdal Primary School so I have to make sure he will have money to go to school, because it is too far for him to walk from home,” says Namises.

    “I do not want him to change schools and let him start over again, because I do not want to disrupt his learning environment.

    “We also do not have any good schools close to where we live.”





    Namises's eldest failed grade 10 and he will be forced to drop out of school as she does not have the money to send him to Namcol.

    “He will not be allowed to repeat his year because he is older than 17, and I cannot afford the enrolment fees for Namcol. So that is it for his education.”

    The casually employed single mother only works twice a week by ironing clothes in other areas around Windhoek and she struggles to sustain her children. Their father has been imprisoned for the past eight years and he does not have any relatives that can assist them.

    Another Okahandja Park resident and mother of six, Natalia Kalenga, shared the same sentiments. She too struggles with taxi fare for her eldest child who studies at Unam.

    The third-year student takes a taxi every day and Kalenga has always feared this.

    “Unam is very far from where we stay so I am always scared that she could get raped as taxi drivers cannot be trusted these days. I cannot sleep until she is at home. I want to see her every night and then I will have peace of mind,” said the 51-year-old.

    She also does not allow her children to play in the streets as she does not want them exposed to drugs and alcohol. “Our area is full of danger and most of the young people here are not motivated to do anything so they often use drugs.”

    Most of the mothers living in Okahandja Park moved from other towns in search of greener pastures and with the hope of providing for their families back home.

    Rebekka Karenga was one of the hopefuls, but was confronted with the sad truth of unemployment in the capital. She moved from Rundu in 2012 and after spending nearly three years jobless, she opted to start her own business last year which has also come to a halt.

    She used to sell vetkoek and kapana at Stop 'n Shop in Okuryangava before the police chased all vendors away. “They started patrolling the area and then we were told to move, because we are not allowed to sell there. I am still searching for a new area so I can continue my business,” said the 28-year-old.

    Namibian Sun found Karenga returning from a shopping trip to buy stationery. She saod she had been saving since October last year.

    “My daughter will be leaving to go back to Rundu on Sunday so I also have to provide transport money for her. That is why I started preparing myself,” says the mother of two.

    Her only worry now is finding a new area that will be busy enough to make sure she takes home a good profit for her and her family.

    TUNOHOLE MUNGOBA

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    Indongo inks promotional pact with Lou DiBellaIndongo inks promotional pact with Lou DiBella DIBELLA ENTERTAINMENT has signed former unified junior welterweight world champion JULIUS "The Blue Machine" INDONGO to an exclusive long-term promotional agreement.

    Sporting a record of 22-1 with 11 knockouts, the Namibia native will be relocating his training camp to Omaha, Nebraska, in preparation for his return to the ring in the United States.

    Said Indongo, "I'm very happy for the opportunity to fight for DiBella Entertainment. I will make sure that I work hard in order to open doors for my fellow Namibians. It's an unexpected dream that turned into reality. DiBella Entertainment, I'm thrilled to continue my career and achieve my goals with your promotional push."
    I'm very excited to start working with Julius, not only is he a former unified junior welterweight world champion but also a true road warrior, winning titles in both Russia and Scotland," said LOU DIBELLA, President of DiBella Entertainment. "He's very serious about becoming a world champion again, including moving his training camp to the US, and I look forward to working with him toward another world title opportunity."

    Said Indongo manager MICHAEL CARTER, "We are really excited to be a part of the DiBella Entertainment family, and are extremely grateful for the opportunity. That being said, we are confident that Julius Indongo will regain every title he lost and obtain the others he was pursuing. With the backing of a solid promotional company like DiBella Entertainment, we know that Indongo will once again become a dominant force in the junior welterweight division and become an even greater source of pride to his Namibian fans and supporters."

    On December 3, 2016, Indongo traveled to Moscow, Russia, to knock out Eduard Troyanovsky in the first round to capture the IBF junior welterweight world title.

    Four months later, on April 15, 2017, Indongo won a 12-round unanimous decision against Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland, adding the WBA junior welterweight world title around his waist.

    In his most recent outing, fighting in the United States for the first time and in the first four-belt world title unification bout since 2004, Indongo suffered his only defeat to Terence Crawford on August 19, 2017, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

    With Crawford having vacated the belts and moving up to welterweight, Indongo will begin the journey of reclaiming his previously held titles.

    0 0

    Indongo inks promotional pact with Lou DiBellaIndongo inks promotional pact with Lou DiBella DIBELLA ENTERTAINMENT has signed former unified junior welterweight world champion JULIUS "The Blue Machine" INDONGO to an exclusive long-term promotional agreement.

    Sporting a record of 22-1 with 11 knockouts, the Namibia native will be relocating his training camp to Omaha, Nebraska, in preparation for his return to the ring in the United States.

    Said Indongo, "I'm very happy for the opportunity to fight for DiBella Entertainment. I will make sure that I work hard in order to open doors for my fellow Namibians. It's an unexpected dream that turned into reality. DiBella Entertainment, I'm thrilled to continue my career and achieve my goals with your promotional push."
    I'm very excited to start working with Julius, not only is he a former unified junior welterweight world champion but also a true road warrior, winning titles in both Russia and Scotland," said LOU DIBELLA, President of DiBella Entertainment. "He's very serious about becoming a world champion again, including moving his training camp to the US, and I look forward to working with him toward another world title opportunity."

    Said Indongo manager MICHAEL CARTER, "We are really excited to be a part of the DiBella Entertainment family, and are extremely grateful for the opportunity. That being said, we are confident that Julius Indongo will regain every title he lost and obtain the others he was pursuing. With the backing of a solid promotional company like DiBella Entertainment, we know that Indongo will once again become a dominant force in the junior welterweight division and become an even greater source of pride to his Namibian fans and supporters."

    On December 3, 2016, Indongo traveled to Moscow, Russia, to knock out Eduard Troyanovsky in the first round to capture the IBF junior welterweight world title.

    Four months later, on April 15, 2017, Indongo won a 12-round unanimous decision against Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland, adding the WBA junior welterweight world title around his waist.

    In his most recent outing, fighting in the United States for the first time and in the first four-belt world title unification bout since 2004, Indongo suffered his only defeat to Terence Crawford on August 19, 2017, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

    With Crawford having vacated the belts and moving up to welterweight, Indongo will begin the journey of reclaiming his previously held titles.

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