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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

older | 1 | .... | 770 | 771 | (Page 772) | 773 | 774 | .... | 1152 | newer

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    South African police raid Bank of Baroda in corruption investigationSouth African police raid Bank of Baroda in corruption investigation An elite South Africa police unit raided offices of India’s Bank of Baroda on Friday and seized documents as part of an investigation into state corruption under former president Jacob Zuma, a police spokesman said.

    Bank of Baroda, which is winding down its operations in South Africa, was thrust into the spotlight two years ago when it started working with the Guptas, a family of Indian-born businessmen who are at the centre of an influence-peddling scandal surrounding Zuma.

    Zuma and the Guptas deny wrongdoing.

    Police raided Bank of Baroda branches in Johannesburg and Durban and took documents showing bank transactions involving South African state firms, Hangwani Mulaudzi, a spokesman for the police’s elite “Hawks” unit, said.

    “We are of the view that Bank of Baroda was used as a conduit for the transfer of illicit funds. The raids are happening as part of ‘state capture’ investigations,” Mulaudzi said, using a phrase coined to describe alleged influence-peddling under Zuma.

    A Bank of Baroda employee in Durban who picked up the telephone confirmed the Hawks had visited the bank’s premises on Friday.

    “This search and seizure operation is not for investigation on Bank of Baroda. This requisition by the Hawks is in relation to the continuing ongoing investigation of the Gupta family,” the bank said in a statement on Saturday.

    The bank has been cooperating with investigating agencies and has shared relevant documents with them, it said.

    An inquiry into allegations surrounding Zuma and the Guptas will begin formal public hearings in August and could take two years or more, officials have said.

    Police earlier this year raided the compound of the Guptas in Johannesburg as part of an investigation into theft, fraud and money laundering at a state-backed dairy project in the Free State province that was meant to benefit the local community.

    The whereabouts of the Gupta brothers is not publicly known. One of the brothers, Ajay Gupta, was declared a “fugitive from justice” after leaving South Africa for Dubai in February.

    Gupta family representatives in South Africa could not be reached for comment.

    Zuma was in court on Friday for a separate hearing relating to a $2.5 billion arms deal from the 1990s. He faces 16 charges of fraud, racketeering, corruption and money laundering in that case.

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    Mukwahepo - a forgotten heroineMukwahepo - a forgotten heroine The grandchildren of Auguste 'Mukwahepo' Immanuel claim that the government only took care of her after her death and while she was alive, she was forgotten.

    Mukwahepo was the first Namibian woman to undergo military training under Swapo in exile in 1965, but, at the age of 53 when she was repatriated in 1989, she was not employed by the government.

    In a letter read by Oscar Hauwanga on behalf of the grandchildren, they said sadder still was that none of her children was “employed on her behalf as a token of appreciation”.

    “We appeal to the government… Mukwahepo was the first woman to be trained militarily by Swapo but she was not employed after independence. We, the grandsons and -daughters of Mukwahepo, are also not employed by the government. When our grandmother was alive only few political leaders assisted her. Now they come out when she is dead.”

    The grandchildren said they appreciated the gesture by the government to accord her a state funeral, but they urged the ministry of veterans' affairs to speed up its benefits programme so veterans could enjoy benefits while still living.

    Over the weekend, and on Saturday at the burial, many Namibians gathered at the Eenhana Shrine to pay their last respects to Mukwahepo.

    Hauwanga said veterans of the liberation struggle are dying daily without getting their benefits from the ministry.

    “We feel that it is necessary to support these people. The veterans of the struggle are dying day by day without getting any support. The ministry should assist these veterans while they are alive. Their projects are very slow,” he said.

    Mukwahepo died earlier this month at the age of 81. According to former president Hifikepunye Pohamba, she joined Swapo in 1963 and went into exile in 1965 and not 1964 as documented. She became the first Namibian woman to undergo military training under Swapo, and specialised in infantry in 1965.

    President Hage Geingob spoke about Mukwahepo's outstanding achievements and noble qualities. Geingob said she was a heroine in two ways, a loving mother and grandmother and to the liberation struggle she was a pioneer and trailblazer by becoming the first woman to undergo military training.

    “That is a great achievement because at that time, the military was meant for men, and this qualifies her to carry the title of heroine of our armed struggle.”

    She is not an ordinary freedom fighter and not an ordinary mother. She was an extraordinary person who broke through barriers and stigma,” Geingob said.

    Geingob said Mukwahepo went into exile at a time when most saw motherhood as a woman's primary role. She decided to chart a new course in her life's journey and she inspired other Namibian women to go into exile and join the struggle.

    “While in exile she always demonstrated her inner qualities of motherhood. She started taking care of the children of other freedom fighters who were at the front, or those who went sent for studies, and the weak. After independence she became the provider of her household. When many are complaining about the burden of raising children, Mukwahepo used her veteran's allowance to take care of 15 children, some of deceased relatives, some orphans and some she brought from exile,” he said.

    Pohamba said he first met Mukwahepo in 1965 in Lusaka, Zambia. She was then sent for training at the Kongwa training centre in Tanzania.

    Founding President Sam Nujoma, in a speech read on his behalf by Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba, said he first met Mukwahepo in 1965 to facilitate her transit to Tanzania with the first group of Swapo members including the likes of Augustus Nghaamwa and Julius Shilongo. He said the government built her a veteran's house which was furnished by former prime minister Nahas Angula.

    Mukwahepo was born at Onengali in the Ohangwena Region and after independence she settled at Omhedi, where she lived until her death on 7 June.

    ILENI NANDJATO

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    I did not say ‘poor’ - Utoni I did not say ‘poor’ - Utoni The minister of land reform, Utoni Nujoma, has denied to Namibian Sun that he used the phrase “poor people” in an interview with the South African eNCA news channel, screened on Thursday.

    The interview formed part of the eNCA's series 'The Land Question' that looks at how African countries are handling the issue of land and its distribution.

    During the interview, Nujoma asked how a poor person would run an expensive farm if granted one, and said that the government ideally wanted to resettle people who could contribute to the economy.

    However, when contacted yesterday Nujoma point-blank denied ever using the word “poor” in his interview.

    According to him he would have, at the very least, said “vulnerable people” but never “poor”, because he has nothing against poor people.

    “In fact, that interview was not fair. It was taken out of context. It was deliberately done to tarnish my image.

    “Our government has programmes in place for everyone. We even have the Harambee Prosperity Plan where we are giving people food from the food bank,” he said.

    He added that he only meant people could not be resettled without being trained.

    “On the most sophisticated farms we need to affirm people. We have programmes in place.

    “We train everyone that is resettled to be able to farm productively,” he said.

    When contacted to clarify whether Nujoma's response reflected the government's official's stance, presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari said the president had no comment.

    “Thank you for your query. The Presidency has no comment to make. Please seek clarity from the lands minister, Utoni Nujoma,” was the reply from State House.

    The secretary-general of the ruling Swapo Party, Sophia Shaningwa, said she could not comment as she is not the lands minister.



    Outrage

    Job Amupanda of the Affirmative Repositioning Movement called on President Hage Geingob to call Nujoma to order for saying poor people could be given expensive resettlement farms.

    Amupanda also demanded that the president order Nujoma to apologise within 24 hours, as he had done with Nujoma's former deputy, Bernadus Swartbooi.

    Geingob fired Swartbooi after he had refused apologise publicly for comments he had made against Nujoma at Hoachanas two years ago.

    “We also challenge him to remove Utoni Nujoma from all policy preparation for the land conference because he has predetermined ideas, and we challenge him to remove Utoni Nujoma as minister for fuelling tensions on the land matter. We know that President Geingob will not do any of these things because the views of Utoni Nujoma are his views and those of his cabinet,” he said.

    The official opposition Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) also rejected Nujoma's remarks and asked whether the minister ultimately said land reform should only cater for the rich.

    In a statement issued on Friday, PDM member of parliament Vipua Muharukua demanded that Shaningwa confirm whether that was the party's position on land reform.

    “Is Minister Nujoma implying that the poor people are ignorant and too stupid to run farms after working as labourers for years in spite of only being denied management roles because of the colour of their skin?

    “It is indeed true that the majority of Namibians are poor but as a minister, instead of finding ways how you can make land acquisition socially inclusive to everyone, he is throwing such utterances in the face of the same people that vote his party in power and this is unacceptable,” he said.

    The PDM further challenged Nujoma to a public debate on land reform at a time and date of his choice.





    JEMIMA BEUKES

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  • 06/10/18--16:00: Zinc Cup set for August
  • Zinc Cup set for AugustZinc Cup set for AugustRegions prepare for tournament Namibia's young players will have a chance to showcase their skills in the regional under-17 tournament. The Skorpion Zinc under-17 tournament will take place in August this year, the Namibia Football Association has announced.

    This is after Skorpion Zinc Namibia and the country's football association agreed to host the tournament once again.

    The youth football competition will be played between 24 and 27 August. NFA secretary-general Barry Rukoro was quoted on the NFA news website stating the importance of the competition.

    “The championship brings together the best of regional under- 17, where each region vies to walk away victorious and it gives a platform for the teenagers to be seen and be scouted for national team and club football and that is why they play the game in the first place.

    “So this partnership is fundamental to our football heroes' development and it shall continue to be very close to all involved,” Rukoro said.

    In 2017, the Omusati Region made it three Skorpion Zinc under-17 Cup titles as they defeated Erongo in the final at the Sam Nujoma Stadium. Khomas were the inaugural winners in 2013.

    A brace from Willem Elia and a goal each from Timotheus Petrus and Shiimi Matheus ensured a 4-2 victory for Omusati over Erongo in the final of the 2017 Scorpion Zinc under-17 Cup while Kavango West took third place ahead of Kavango East.

    Erongo' s Prince Tjiueza won the player of the tournament award; Omusati' s Aron Nghitengeluwa was goalkeeper of the tournament, and teammate Elia Willem was the top goal scorer with eight goals from the 98 scored during the three-day tournament.

    Kavango East were awarded the fair play award. Petrus Amutenya was voted the official of the tournament. The NFA and Skorpion Zinc first launched the competition in 2013 for three years. After a year's absence in 2016, Skorpion Zinc sponsored N$1.4 million last year and announced that the competition would be played annually.

    - Additional info by NFA

    JESSE JACKSON KAURAISA

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    World's emptiest airport in Sri Lanka as last flight schedule cancelledWorld's emptiest airport in Sri Lanka as last flight schedule cancelled Sri Lanka's jinxed second international airport was left without a single scheduled flight from Friday after the only airline using the remote facility scrapped its daily service.

    Dubai's flydubai gave no reason for the pull-out from Mattala International, built by former strongman president Mahinda Rajapakse and financed with Chinese loans.

    The airport - a five-hour, 250-kilometre drive from the capital Colombo - is located inside a wildlife sanctuary and smack in the middle of a migratory route for birds.

    Several aircraft have hit birds since it opened in 2013 and two years ago the military deployed hundreds of troops to clear deer, wild buffalo and elephants off the sprawling facility.

    The airport, which cost an initial US$210 million and employs some 550 workers in Rajapakse's home district, has failed to generate enough business to pay staff, let alone make a profit.

    Rajapakse's administration had offered hefty concessions and initially attracted Air Arabia - which pulled out after only a few weeks - and flydubai.

    Even Sri Lanka's national carrier Sri Lankan Airlines stopped flying to Mattala in 2015 saying the move saved them US$18 million annually.

    Mattala will however remain an emergency alternate landing location for flights heading into Colombo International. Earlier this year the world's largest aircraft, the Antonov 225, refuelled there.

    Other Chinese investments have also turned sour for the island nation, leading the government to warn last month of a looming debt crisis as it struggles to pay back the loans.

    Last August, China took over the loss-making deep-sea port of Hambantota in the south of Sri Lanka on a 99-year lease under a US$1.1 billion deal, sparking particular concern in neighbouring India.

    China has also lent other countries in Asia and further afield vast amounts of money for infrastructure projects being built under President Xi Jinping's signature Belt and Road initiative.

    In April the International Monetary Fund warned China about saddling other countries with a “problematic increase in debt”.

    NAMPA/AFP

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  • 06/12/18--16:00: Is it a new world?
  • Is it a new world?Is it a new world?Historic summit brings hope for change The meeting between American President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will hopefully usher in a new global order. US President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un concluded an extraordinary summit on Tuesday with lofty promises by the American president to take care of a “very dangerous problem” and Kim forecasting “major change for the world”.

    They signed a document that Trump described as “pretty comprehensive”, but he declined to describe it, saying the details would be revealed later. The document signing followed a series of meetings at a luxury Singapore resort.

    The joint declaration signed by President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says the US has committed to providing “security guarantees” to the North.

    The document signed at the end of the pair's historic summit in Singapore on Tuesday also says Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”.

    It's unclear exactly what Trump has promised Kim in terms of security. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to say earlier whether guarantees might include withdrawing US troops from the Korean Peninsula.

    A copy of the text snapped by a photographer at the signing summit says Trump and Kim also discussed how to build “a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula” in their talks.

    The White House has yet to release the document's text, but it was photographed by the news media during a signing ceremony.

    Meeting with staged ceremony on a Singapore island, Trump and Kim came together for a summit that seemed just unthinkable months ago, clasping hands in front of a row of alternating US and North Korean flags, holding a one-on-one meeting, additional talks with advisors and a working lunch.

    Throughout the summit that could chart the course for historic peace or raise the spectre of a growing nuclear threat, both leaders expressed optimism. Kim called the sit-down a “good prelude for peace” and Trump pledged that “working together, we will get it taken care of”.

    In advance of their private session, Trump predicted “tremendous success” while Kim said through an interpreter that “we have come here after overcoming” obstacles.

    Aware that the eyes of the world were on a moment many people never expected to see, Kim said many of those watching would think it was a scene from a “science fiction movie”.

    In the run-up to the meeting, Trump had predicted the two men might strike a nuclear deal or forge a formal end to the Korean War in the course of a single meeting or over several days.

    But in the hours before the summit, the White House unexpectedly announced Trump would depart Singapore earlier than expected - Tuesday evening - raising questions about whether his aspirations for an ambitious outcome had been scaled back.

    Giving voice to the anticipation felt around the world, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Tuesday he “hardly slept” before the summit. Moon and other officials watched the live broadcast of the summit before a South Korean Cabinet meeting in his presidential office

    The meeting was the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

    After meeting privately and with aides, Trump and Kim moved into the luncheon at a long flower-bedecked table.

    As they entered, Trump injected some levity to the day's extraordinary events, saying: “Getting a good picture everybody? So we look nice and handsome and thin? Perfect.”

    NAMPA/AP

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    The state of the Namibian childThe state of the Namibian child As Day of the African Child approaches, there are increasing signals from within Namibian society that all is not well, especially when it comes to how we care for orphans and vulnerable children in our country.

    On 16 June the international community - when it celebrates Day of the African Child - will take stock and focus on the continuing need for the improvement of basic services provided to African children.

    The day honours those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in South Africa in 1976, when thousands of black school children marched in protest against the poor quality of education, while demanding their right to be taught in their own language. They were met with fierce police brutality. The number of protesters killed by police is usually given as 176, but estimates of up to 700 linger. Last Friday Namibian Sun reported that girls as young as nine are accessing contraceptives at public health clinics without being accompanied by parents or guardians, while 10-year-olds are giving birth. These were just some of the shocking revelations heard recently during public hearings conducted nationwide by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Resources and Community Development. This week Ombudsman John Walters and the child welfare ministry confirmed investigations into the living conditions of orphans and vulnerable children at a state facility, where staff are allegedly not trained to look after special needs children and at least one incident of rape has been reported. But this is the tip of the iceberg, in terms of what vulnerable children experience in the country.

    It has been estimated that one in three children in Namibia grow up in households that are poor. It goes without saying that poverty has deep and long-lasting impacts on the lives and development of children, especially their health and education. If poverty is not addressed at an early age it is passed on from generation to generation.

    As various authors have opined, poverty impacts on a child's emotional and psychosocial wellbeing and the daily struggle to make ends increases the stress and tension within households, which are often child-headed.

    It deeply saddens that in a country with only 2.5 million inhabitants, our children still reap the whirlwind.

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  • 06/12/18--16:00: shot of the day
  • shot of the dayshot of the day BEAUTIFUL LANDING: A Russian Soyuz MS-07 space capsule lands about 150 km south-east of the Kazakh town of Dzhezkazgan, on 3 June 2018. A Soyuz space capsule with Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, US astronaut Scott Tingle and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai, returning from a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) landed safely on the steppes of Kazakhstan. Photo: NAMPA/AFP

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    Ndeitunga: We won't stop KüskaNdeitunga: We won't stop Küska Police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga says Nampol has no right to stop peaceful gatherings like the annual Küska carnival in Swakopmund and has referred genocide activist Laidlow Peringanda to the country's courts.

    Ndeitunga said the Namibian Constitution allows for people to assemble and march peacefully.

    “We cannot stop a peaceful march. They can apply for a court order with the courts.

    The Supreme Court is there, the Office of the Attorney-General is there. They can go to court to stop the march, if they feel it is not right, but the police cannot stop a peaceful march or gathering,” said Ndeitunga.

    This follows a complaint Peringanda laid with Ombudsman John Walters over the police's failure to attend a meeting with the 'Descendants of the Survivors of 1904-1908 Genocide' at their office in the DRC settlement of Swakopmund.

    According to Peringanda the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the hosting of the annual Küska carnival, which according to him is disrespectful to the memories of those who were slain during the 1904-08 genocide.

    “They cannot hold that carnival until we have a complete list of all the people that have died and those that were prisoners in the concentration camps,” he said.

    Peringanda also wrote a letter to Marco Swartz, the CEO of the Swakopmund municipality, requesting that approval should not be granted for the event, which normally takes place from 15 to 22 June.

    He demanded that the names of genocide victims buried in nameless graves at the coastal town cemetery be made known and that the skulls of Namibians used for research in Germany be returned.

    Peringanda is also campaigning to have free land allocated to all descendants of those killed in the genocide.

    In April, Peringanda mobilised descendants of victims of the Ovaherero and Nama genocide to put a stop to the annual Küska carnival.

    Peringanda said the event commemorates white supremacy and referred to an incident in recent years, when photos of Küska participants dressed in Ku Klux Klan attire and with painted black faces, surfaced in the media.

    “This is degrading to all Namibians who suffered under segregation.

    Our ancestors constructed most of the buildings in Swakopmund as slave labourers and it is painful to witness the German community commemorating conquering Africa. It is similar to honouring the German emperor Wilhelm II, who issued the order to General Lothar van Trotha to exterminate and massacre Ovaherero and Nama people.”

    He also questioned the involvement of the navy brass band at the parade.

    “They are wearing their official uniforms and using instruments paid for by taxpayers.

    We have a right to tell them not to participate. They are apparently being paid to perform by the German community. How come they are nowhere to be seen when the Ovaherero reparation march takes place?”



    JEMIMA BEUKES

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    Look beyond fishing - ministryLook beyond fishing - ministryNot the only way to participate The information workshops held by the fisheries ministry are serving first-time applicants. Fisheries ministry national coordinator Anna Erastus says it will not be the end of the world if people are not successful with their fishing rights applications.

    Speaking at a meeting held with potential fishing rights applicants this week Erastus said there are other opportunities for Namibians to participate in, apart from fishing.

    The ministry's series of informative workshops kicked off in Windhoek on Monday and are dealing with the new rules when applying for fishing rights.

    It is the first time in 20 years that fishing rights have expired and are now up for grabs, while others are due to expire this year and next year.

    Fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau last month encouraged all Namibians, particularly the formerly disadvantaged, to apply for 96 new fishing rights in nine fisheries sectors.

    The new rights are for hake, horse mackerel, monk, red crab, rock lobster, line fish, large pelagic, mullet and Cape fur seals. The deadline for applications is 31 July.

    The formerly disadvantaged singled out by Esau are women, young people, people living with disabilities, liberation war veterans, and people living in economically marginalised communities.

    According to the new requirements, only registered companies can apply for fishing rights, while those with existing rights may not apply for new ones.

    However, the requirement that all applicants must be a shareholding privately held company - a (Pty) Ltd - has raised eyebrows.

    Erastus said it would be difficult to register companies before the looming cut-off date. However, according to her, plans are in place to hasten the process.

    “This is something we are working on. Yes there are costs involved, but this is the criteria. With this, we hope that the capacity will improve and this will result in more participants,” said Erastus.

    Special advisor to the Khomas governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua, Rosalia Mwashekele-Sibiya, said fishing rights was a “bread and butter issue”.

    According to her, the evidence on the ground suggests there is collaboration between the ministry and regional councils countrywide to award fishing rights equitably.

    According to Erastus, there is also an indication that Namibians are growing evermore serious about participating in the fishing sector.

    This was evidenced by the huge turnout for the first consultative workshop.

    Erastus, however, asked people to be aware of the fact that fishing rights were limited to protect the growth of fish species.

    Dr Stephen Mbithi Mwikya, who is serving as a consultant to the fisheries ministry, explained that fishing rights were also limited to specific fish species.

    He added that people are free to submit as many applications as they deem fit.

    Similar workshops are planned across the country.

    AUGETTO GRAIG

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  • 06/12/18--16:00: Company news in brief
  • Company news in briefCompany news in brief South African Airways plans deep cuts

    Six months into the job of running loss-making South African Airways, Vuyani Jarana is mapping out a punishing austerity plan.

    Jarana, who faces the daunting task of turning the flag carrier around, said layoffs and other cuts were unavoidable as he contends with a draining cost-to-income ratio of 108%.

    “SAA cannot carry the same workforce, whether it is pilots, cabin crew or administration,” he told Reuters. “We have to make some tough decisions to save the airline. There cannot be sacred cows when it comes to SAA.”

    -Nampa/Reuters

    Airtel Kenya abandons plan to merge with Telkom

    The Kenyan unit of Bharti Airtel has abandoned plans to merge with Telkom Kenya to take on the market leading operator Safaricom, industry and government sources said on Monday.

    Sources said in April that Airtel and Telkom Kenya were planning to merge to create a stronger challenger to Safaricom, which has 72% of subscribers, or around 30 million subscriptions.

    “Airtel developed cold feet,” said an industry source who declined to be named.

    -Nampa/Reuters

    Huawei patent case shows Chinese courts' rising clout

    A smartphone patent fight between Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Samsung Electronics Co could reach a global resolution through a ruling by a Chinese court, a development that reflects the growing attractiveness of China as a quick and effective forum for intellectual property disputes.

    The size of the US market and the strength of the country’s independent judiciary have historically given its courts the final say in most big cross-border patent disputes. Legal experts say US courts’ pre-eminence in intellectual property matters has helped foster a culture of innovation that China wants to emulate.

    -Nampa/Reuters

    US reveals ZTE settlement details

    ZTE Corp’s settlement with the US Commerce Department that would allow China’s No. 2 telecommunications equipment maker to resume business with US suppliers was made public on Monday, days after the company agreed to pay a US$1 billion fine, overhaul its leadership and meet other conditions.

    But the ban on buying US parts, imposed by the department in April, will not be lifted until the company pays the fine and places US$400 million more in escrow in a US.-approved bank, the agency said.

    ZTE did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

    -Nampa/Reuters

    Total signs deal to extend TFT gas field license in Algeria

    French oil and gas major Total said on Monday that it had signed a new concession agreement with Algeria’s Sonatrach, Repsol and Alnaft for a 25-year extension of their Tin Fouyé Tabankort (TFT) gas and condensate field license.

    It said the agreement would give Total a 26.4% stake in the project. Sonatrach will hold 51% and Repsol 22.6%.

    The partners will carry out the drilling and development investments required to develop additional reserves estimated at more than 250 million barrels of oil equivalent, Total said in a statement.

    -Nampa/Reuters

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  • 06/12/18--16:00: Nudo irked by Nujoma remarks
  • Nudo irked by Nujoma remarksNudo irked by Nujoma remarksParty says government is against the poor Remarks made by lands minister Utoni Nujoma have brought another backlash, this time from Nudo, also accusing the government of being anti-poor. The National Democratic Unity Organisation (Nudo) says it is disheartened by land reform minister Utoni Nujoma's remarks in a recent interview with South African broadcaster eNCA.

    In an interview aired last week Nujoma said: “You cannot bring in a person from an informal settlement, put him there and hope that he will succeed to farm. We would like to resettle people who will really make a significant contribution to the GDP.”

    Nudo said his statement is proof that the government is “against poor Namibians”.

    In a statement issued on Sunday, outgoing party president Asser Mbai condemned Nujoma for his remarks.

    “Utoni Nujoma officially announced that the Swapo government's land reform policy is that government will not buy an expensive farm and allocate it to a poor citizen,” said Mbai.

    South African journalist Nkepile Mabuse had asked Nujoma why government's land resettlement programme had mainly benefitted rich Namibians, including ministers, as opposed to the poor masses.

    “These (Nujoma's) utterances are tantamount to undermining and excluding poor people from their right to benefit from the government resettlement programme, as outlined in the land policy and influenced by the first land conference in 1991,” Mbai said.

    He then criticised government's land reform policy, saying it has failed to capacitate Namibians with the requisite skills to thrive as commercial farmers.

    “The so-called minister of land failed to come up with plans on how government plans to assist poor people after they have been resettled,” added Mbai, saying the government instead opted to “exonerate poor people from benefitting under the land resettlement policies”.

    Mbai said he was not shocked by Nujoma's comments.

    “He just followed in the footsteps of Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba (then Swapo secretary-general), who insulted the poor in 2014 during their Swapo rally,” he said.

    Mbai said Nujoma cannot continue to preside over the land reform ministry, particularly in the run-up to the second national land conference, while holding the views expressed during the eNCA interview.

    “It is just an indication that these are window dressing conferences and money wasting instruments, with no intention of giving land to the poor,” he said.

    Nujoma was quoted by Namibian Sun on Monday denying the utterances, saying he was misquoted and that eNCA used him to drive its political agenda.

    NAMPA

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    Psemas dependants must submit proofPsemas dependants must submit proof The Ministry of Finance intends to terminate the membership of dependants of the Public Service Employee Medical Aid Scheme (Psemas) members who are older than 21, not studying or not living with disabilities.

    A public notice issued on Monday by the ministry's permanent secretary Ericah Shafudah said as part of the reform of the medical aid fund, Psemas members with dependants should submit documentary evidence that they are either studying or living with mental or physical disabilities.

    Only upon submission of such documents, the dependant's membership will be reactivated.

    The notice said this is in line with the Public Service Act 13 of 1995, which stipulates that a Psemas member's child who is older than 21 will only be recognised as dependant if they are unmarried, not a member of any other medical aid fund and is a fulltime, active student at a recognised tertiary institution or if they are living with disabilities.

    “Recognition of dependants will not exceed the end of the calendar year during which he or she turns 25 years old, unless mentally or physically disabled,” the notice said.

    Finance minister Calle Schlettwein said last month Psemas will be remodelled “in a bid to sustain state funds and eliminate corruption, unethical behaviour and fraud”.

    The remodelling will include a biometric system and everyone who claims from Psemas will be identified via biometric cards that will be issued to them once they have been re-registered.

    “Service providers will also be obliged to ensure that only members and their dependants are covered,” he said.



    NAMPA

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    Katrina Hanse-Himarwa to fix school hoursKatrina Hanse-Himarwa to fix school hours Basic education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa will now intervene and prescribe fixed starting and ending times for government schools during winter, following inaction by some schools.

    “I have observed that if schools are to be left to decide based on local circumstances we may have a lost situation. So I have intervened and directed, as per the mandate of the Education Act, that all schools have standard (starting and ending) times in winter, as well as in summer, as was the case when the Namibian Time Act of 1994 was still in place,” said Hanse-Himarwa.

    The new fixed school hours would now be decided and publicised soon, she said.

    Earlier this year the ministry announced school hours will be set on a case-by-case basis, with decisions being made on merit, in terms of which schools qualify to start later in winter.

    At the time, schools had been instructed to motivate why they need to adjust their hours during winter, despite the abolition of winter time by parliament.

    However, some schools continued as normal and as a result some learners have been forced to walk to school while it is still dark.

    Hanse-Himarwa's decision to intervene comes after numerous complaints from parents that their children are leaving for school when it is still very dark and unsafe. Parliament last year passed the new Namibian Time Act, which repealed the 1994 legislation and set the country's standard time throughout the year to two hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +2).

    JEMIMA BEUKES

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    Eskom to activate contingency measures after strike threatEskom to activate contingency measures after strike threatSecurity of power supply While Eskom sympathises with workers who will not get salary increases, they are not allowed to participate in strikes, the state power utility has said. Eskom has been designated as an essential service provider, and therefore our employees are reminded that they are not allowed to participate in strike actions," - Eskom On Monday, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) said they would hold a hold a one-day shutdown at Eskom on Thursday to protest against 0% salary increases.

    Eskom said that, should the industrial action take place, it would activate contingency measures to ensure security of power supply. It did not say what these measures were.

    "Eskom sympathises with its over 47 000 employees who have worked very hard to help keep the lights on during the past financial year. However, due to the difficult financial situation that the company currently faces, Eskom has decided to offer no salary increases this year," it said in a statement on Tuesday morning.

    The two unions are demanding 15% increases across the board, a housing allowance increase of R2 000, the banning of labour brokers and the insourcing of workers such as cleaners and security guards.

    They also want paid maternity leave for six months and paid paternity leave for one month.

    "Eskom has noted the statements made by the trade unions about their intentions to embark on an industrial action this Thursday. Eskom has been designated as an essential service provider, and therefore our employees are reminded that they are not allowed to participate in strike actions," the power utility said.

    The unions were set to hold a media briefing in Johannesburg on Tuesday to give more information about their planned one-day strike.

    -Fin24

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    Cryptocurrencies lose US$42 billionCryptocurrencies lose US$42 billion The 2018 selloff in cryptocurrencies deepened, wiping out about US$42billion (about R552billion) of market value over the weekend and extending this year’s slump in Bitcoin to more than 50%.

    Some observers pinned the latest retreat on an exchange hack in South Korea, while others pointed to lingering concern over a clampdown on trading platforms in China. Cryptocurrency venues have come under growing scrutiny around the world in recent months amid a range of issues including thefts, market manipulation and money laundering.

    Bitcoin has dropped about 12% since 5 pm New York time on Friday and was trading at US$6v756, bringing its decline this year to 53%.

    Most other major virtual currencies also retreated, sending the market value of digital assets tracked by Coinmarketcap.com to a nearly two-month low of US$298billion. At the height of the global crypto-mania in early January, they were worth about US$830 billion.

    Enthusiasm for virtual currencies has waned partly due to a string of cyber heists, including the nearly US$500 million theft from Japanese exchange Coincheck Inc. in late January. While the latest hacking target - a South Korean venue called Coinrail - is much smaller, the news triggered knee-jerk selling, according to Stephen Innes, head of Asia Pacific trading at Oanda in Singapore.

    “This is ‘If it can happen to A, it can happen to B and it can happen to C,’ then people panic because someone is selling,” Innes said.

    A cryptocurrency slump

    The slump may have been exacerbated by low market liquidity during the weekend, Innes added.

    “The markets are so thinly traded, primarily by retail accounts, that these guys can get really scared out of positions,” he said. “It actually doesn’t take a lot of money to move the market significantly.”

    Coinrail said in a statement on its website that some of the exchange’s digital currency appears to have been stolen by hackers, but it didn’t disclose how much. The venue added that 70% of the cryptocurrencies it holds are being kept safely in a cold wallet, which isn’t connected to the Internet and is less vulnerable to theft. Two-thirds of the stolen assets - which the exchange identified as NPXS, NPER and ATX coins - have been frozen or collected, while the remaining one third is being examined by investigators, other exchanges and cryptocurrency development companies, it said.

    Coinrail trades more than 50 cryptocurrencies and was among the world’s Top 100 most active venues, with a 24-hour volume of about US$2.65 million, according to data compiled by Coinmarketcap.com before news of the hack.

    The Korean National Police Agency is investigating the case, an official said by phone.

    In China, the Communist Party-run People’s Daily reported on Friday that the country will continue to crack down on illegal fundraising and risks linked to Internet finance, quoting central bank officials. The nation’s cleanup of initial coin offerings and Bitcoin exchanges has almost been completed, the newspaper said, citing Sun Hui, an official at the Shanghai branch of the central bank.

    -Fin24

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  • 06/12/18--16:00: Veterans wait in vain
  • Veterans wait in vainVeterans wait in vain The veteran affairs ministry has spent millions procuring items for socio-economic projects that have not been delivered.

    Many war veterans are now frustrated, saying they are unable to get income-generating projects off the ground. The ministry funds veterans of the liberation struggle up to N$200 000 each for the establishment of their income-generating projects.

    Ministry spokesperson Edson Haufiku confirmed to Namibian Sun some of its suppliers have defaulted and they are aware of the frustrations being experienced by veterans.

    He said they are exploring alternatives to recover costs, some amounting to millions of dollars.

    The veterans say no one is being held accountable for the delay in the delivering their equipment and other items.

    Among the frustrated veterans is 64-year-old Wilhelm Shilongo, who has been waiting for his mahangu thresher that the ministry bought in 2015, but which to date has not been delivered.

    According to Shilongo, nobody at the ministry can explain what is going on.

    The purchase order seen by Namibian Sun, indicates the ministry paid N$28 995 to Renov Namibia on 17 June 2015. However, Renov has failed to deliver.

    “This is very frustrating to me. Every time I go to the ministry offices at Eenhana I am referred to Windhoek. At Windhoek I am told to follow up on the thresher with Renov myself. How can I follow up with Renov if it's the ministry that paid for it? If they as a ministry cannot hold Renov accountable, how must I do it as an individual?” Shilongo asked.

    He said he feels the ministry is not serious about the veterans' plight at all.

    Renov Namibia's sales manager Jaco du Plessis would not comment on the matter, saying they have a lot of customers from the veteran's ministry.

    Haufiku said the ministry is aware that some of the suppliers had defaulted on delivery in past years.

    He said the ministry had since changed its procurement system.

    “The ministry has changed the method of payment. In the past veterans had to get their own supplies and bring receipts to the ministry for payment. We realised some suppliers were not delivering, while others were delivering incorrect or sub-standard items.

    “We realised there was a loophole and we decided to change the system. For now, suppliers have to supply first, then veteran affairs from the regions have to verify the items and veterans have to sign that they are satisfied before we pay,” Haufiku said.

    He also admitted that Shilongo's case is not the only one, saying the ministry has several similar cases registered.

    ILENI NANDJATO

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  • 06/12/18--16:00: Nabta sticks to 20%
  • Nabta sticks to 20%Nabta sticks to 20% The Namibia Buses and Taxi Association (Nabta) president Vespa Muunda has denied being in agreement with a 50% taxi fare hike as proposed last week by the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU).

    Muunda told Namibian Sun yesterday reports that he had agreed with NTTU president Werner Januarie to raise taxi fares by 50% are untrue.

    “We are not agreeing with the proposed 50% hike. It's not what we discussed with the ministry, or what was demanded at the taxi demonstration earlier this year,” he said.

    “NTTU cannot jump to 50%. That is confusing. I cannot agree with that. It was not in the pipeline and it was not in the negotiations,” he said, referring to a high-level ministerial meeting headed by transport minister John Mutorwa recently between the NTTU, Nabta and other road sector players.

    Muunda said while taxi users will agree with the necessity of a 20% increase, a 50% increase could drive consumers to alternative cheaper options.

    “They have to look after bread and butter matters. It will be too difficult to pay so much extra for taxis. Twenty per cent is better than 50%,” he said.

    Muunda emphasised that Namibia in general is facing financial difficulties and this needs to be taken into account.

    “There is no money. Everyone is struggling, including drivers, owners of taxis, communities. Let's put something on the table people can agree with.”

    He further urged taxi operators of ensuring that once the 20% increase becomes effective, envisioned for next month, owners of taxi operations “must give a percentage to the drivers. They need to also increase their salaries. The drivers are also suffering.”

    He further highlighted that a taxi fare increase is urgent, as the fares have remained static since 2014.

    “Since then, fuel has increased multiple times. The cost of tyres and services have increased.”

    Januarie yesterday held a brief press conference in which he announced a union meeting scheduled for this Sunday, during which issues such as the way forward for the union, including possible legal action against government, will be discussed.

    He further said that the event will double as a fundraiser.

    Januarie yesterday alleged that Muunda had initially “agreed to a 50% increment” and said he had pulled out of that agreement due to possible pressure after hearing about the public's dismay at the proposed increase, among other issues.



    JANA-MARI SMITH

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  • 06/12/18--16:00: Welder sues govt for N$6m
  • Welder sues govt for N$6mWelder sues govt for N$6mSays they took his documents Gideon Karlush says he could not attend to his tenders in southern Angola because home affairs officials took his documents prohibiting him from travelling. A 29-year-old Namibian welder, who claims to have lost the opportunity for two tenders worth N$4.8 million in Angola in 2014 after his documents were allegedly seized by home affairs officials, is now suing government for N$6 million for damages he suffered.

    Gideon Karlush, who hails from Outapi in the Omusati Region, has been looking for justice in the Oshakati High Court since May 2017.

    The government and the home affairs ministry are the respondents in the matter.

    The matter will be heard again on 3 July.

    Court documents seen by Namibian Sun show that Karlush is demanding compensation from the state to the tune of N$6 million for the damages he suffered and loss of income, when his documents were allegedly confiscated by home affairs officials. This, he says, prevented him from getting a passport to travel to Angola to carry out the work on his welding tenders.

    One tender was for work at Lubango while the other was at Benguela.

    Apart from not being able to travel to Angola for the work, Karlush said he was also denied his democratic right to vote in the 2014 general elections, as his voter's card was also allegedly confiscated.

    Karlush told the court his troubles started on 27 August 2014 during the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair, when he applied for a passport at the ministry's stall. He said he needed to travel to Angola to perform the work on the two tenders he had secured.

    He alleges he completed the forms and walked away from the stall. Shortly thereafter, he said he was called back by the officials and says they accused him of not being a Namibian citizen and said his documents were fake.

    The documents, he says, were confiscated were his full birth certificate, electoral voter's card and Angolan border pass.

    “When my documents were seized and with some still not returned, I could not travel to Angola and commence with the work. I could have made millions from those tenders but today I am subjected to poverty,” Karlush said.

    He added he had already sent his equipment worth N$30 000 to Lubango in Angola where his first tender was, and in the process, he lost everything.

    Before turning to the High Court, Karlush's counsel at Inonge Mainga Attorneys wrote a letter dated 20 February 2015 to home affairs permanent secretary Patrick Nandago airing his grievances.

    On 30 March 2015, Nandago responded saying the matter is receiving the ministry's “utmost attention”.

    “Kindly be informed that the above-stated matter is receiving our utmost attention and that we will revert back to you soonest,” Nandago said.

    Karlush received no relief and after approaching the High Court, the matter was sent for mediation, but the parties could not come to an agreement.

    In their responding documents, the government, along with the ministry, says Karlush's documents were never confiscated, the state only issued him a border pass limiting travel as far as Santa Clara.

    They accused him of breaking law, saying he could not have received tenders in towns beyond Santa Clara.

    “The plaintiff could not have worked on tenders in the towns mentioned in the tender document, as by travelling beyond Santa Clara, he would have been breaking the law. One does not approach the court with dirty hands,” they argued.

    The defendants further said it is not responsible for Karlush not being able to vote in the 2014 general elections, as his voter's card was never confiscated and added they had received no application for such.

    This is despite Karlush having provided the receipt of the N$160 he had paid for the application.

    “Defendants propose that plaintiff withdraws the claim and each party pays its cost,” the documents read.



    Suffering

    Karlush, a father of two, told Namibian Sun that the legal costs have drained him financially although he says he will continue looking for justice.

    He said it is becoming increasingly difficult to take care of his family and the nine court postponements have only increased his burden.

    “I used to be the breadwinner, but not anymore. When I lost those two tenders, I lost my equipment and starting over is not easy. Jobs are hard to find and I am stuck at my village working in the mahangu field,” Karlush said.

    “I am tired of living like this, I used to work for money and provide for my people, not this sitting at home and being in court all the time.”

    Judge Maphios Cheda is presiding over the matter and Inonge Mainga-Sisamu represents Karlush.

    KENYA KAMBOWE

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    Farmers eager for National Pension FundFarmers eager for National Pension FundFar too many funds unclaimed Farmers in Namibia have expressed their desire to have the National Pension Fund activated soonest following the disbandment of the Namibia Agricultural Retirement Fund. Commercial farmers are waiting with bated breath for the establishment of the much-anticipated National Pension Fund.

    This follows the disbandment of the Namibia Agricultural Retirement Fund (NARF), due to a lack of participation by members.

    The Agricultural Employers’ Association (AEA) held its annual congress yesterday, which included an overview of the 2017/18 financial year by chairperson Hellmut Förtsch.

    Förtsch said although most NARF claims have been paid, there are still funds that remain unclaimed by members.

    According to him employers are now waiting on the National Pension Fund, which is yet been established by government. Indications are the fund will resort under the Social Security Commission (SSC) and will in all likelihood be operational by the middle of 2019.

    According to Förtsch the AEA and the Namibia Employers’ Federation (NEF) require a fixed contribution pension fund, to which contributions can be made directly, in comparison to a fixed benefit fund, where funds lie in one central pool.

    He further said there were no noteworthy labour disputes in the commercial agricultural sector during the 2017/18 financial year.

    According to him this can be attributed to the fact that agricultural workers have been informed about Labour Act regulations.

    Förtsch said their members are also regularly in contact with the association, in order to get advice on healthy labour practices.

    He also elaborated on the adjustment of the minimum wage for farmworkers that was agreed to last year after successful negotiations and which came into effect on 1 November 2017. The minimum cash wage increased from N$3.70 to N$4.62 per hour or N$900 per month for a worker who works 45 hours per week.

    For employers who do not give free rations, the ration allowance increased from N$400 to N$500 per month. The total minimum pay is thus N$1 400 per month.

    According to Förtsch the minimum wage is currently valid for all members of worker and trade unions.

    “Expanding thereof to the entire agricultural sector, however, requires the recognition of the Namibia Farm Workers Union (Nafwu) as the head negotiating agent of farmworkers.”

    Due to the low representation of workers by Nafwu, this has not been accepted.

    He also said the 2018 AEA wage survey is currently ongoing and the association is still waiting on the return of questionnaires by its members. The association has also decided to add the value of the electricity, water and firewood that a worker receives for free to remuneration packages.

    Förtsch stressed the wage survey is a very important project, which will provide vital information to members, as well as the agriculture and labour sectors.

    He urged members to take part in the survey.

    IJG managing director Rene Olivier gave an overview of the Namibian economy at the congress.

    He explained Namibia is going through a difficult economic cycle.

    “It is normal to go through cycles and the country will get through this. It will, however, take us a bit longer, but our government is not that bankrupt.”

    According to him it will take about two years for Namibia to recover and for the economy to grow in a positive direction. It is predicted that by 2020 Namibia will reach 3% annual economic growth.

    ELLANIE SMIT

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