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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

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  • 08/15/18--16:00: The challenge of urban land
  • The challenge of urban landThe challenge of urban landGovernment needs help to develop With almost 40 years in property and property development, Bennie Joseph sat down with Namibian Sun to talk land. Veteran property developer Bennie Joseph says that municipalities will need a lot of assistance if they have to make enough land available to meet the demand as urbanisation continues to grow.

    Joseph made the remarks in the build up to the national land conference, slated for October this year, in an interview with Namibian Sun.

    “Municipalities are not in a position to develop because there is a shortage of money. Government does not also have the money to develop the land. We have enough land but not enough capital,” Joseph said.

    Without mentioning a specific value required, Joseph said that government would need a lot of money. He added that he did not believe that there was unwillingness on the part of government to develop urban land in Windhoek and other towns.

    “It will take a lot of money and it is not because government does not want to, it simply cannot. We are in a situation now where the taps have been closed. This has brought the market to a standstill. Speculation has disappeared,” Joseph said.

    He also felt that policy makers should observe the sentiments on the ground to tackle the land problem with the land conference scheduled for October.

    “There was no communication on urban land. Those discussions never took place.

    “Government must intervene and listen to the man on the street. Government needs to find out what the voting public want. People must be realistic [though],” Joseph cautioned.

    According to him, the first conference did not address the issue thoroughly and there would be a need now to hone in deeply into the matter.

    The conference will take place from 1 to 5 October at the Safari Court Hotel in Windhoek.

    Although it is unclear at this point what the exact agenda for the conference will be, it is certain that ancestral land and expropriation, with or without compensation, will take centre stage.

    During his State of the Nation Address (SONA) earlier this year President Geingob said ancestral land restitution would be discussed at the upcoming conference.

    Also on the agenda would be the willing buyer, willing seller principle; expropriation in the public interest with just compensation, as provided for in the constitution; urban land reform and resettlement criteria, and the veterinary cordon fence.

    OGONE TLHAGE

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    NHE wants to construct 423 housesNHE wants to construct 423 houses The National Housing Enterprises (NHE) has requested for a proposed strategy for the construction of 423 houses in Rundu, Omuthiya, Oshakati and Okahao by the end of February 2019, its CEO, Gisbertus Mukulu has said.

    Mukulu made the announcement on Monday at the handover ceremony of a house by Standard Bank Namibia through its Buy-a-Brick initiative to Paralympic Games gold-medallist, Ananias Shikongo.

    He thus called on the local authorities to avail serviced land to NHE at affordable prices that will enable it to construct and sell the houses that are affordable to the majority of Namibians.

    He explained that apart from limited financial resource at NHE's disposal, there is also a lack of available serviced land for the development of houses in local authorities

    The available serviced land is very expensive and has an ultimate effect on the cost of housing products, he added.

    He however expressed that unfavourable housing prices in Namibia are being fuelled by expensive municipal land.

    Mukulu said currently there is not enough supply of housing stock in the market and consequently the profit-oriented developers have an opportunity to exploit market forces to their advantage.

    This means that low-income groups will not be able to acquire decent houses, he added.

    “We at NHE are aware of some challenges before us in the provision of housing to the nation,” he noted, saying that these challenges include limited public investment in housing and municipal infrastructure, which contributes significantly to very high costs of houses in Namibia.

    The CEO continued that NHE could not do what the private institutions are practicing by inflating housing prices as its target income group will not afford them.

    As a public entity, the NHE is further faced with a challenge where it competes for the acquisition of housing land with private sector institutions, which are prepared to pay the high cost of land and simply transfer cost to the clients, Mukulu said.

    NAMPA

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  • 08/15/18--16:00: PDM concerned about strikes
  • PDM concerned about strikesPDM concerned about strikes The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) has expressed concern about the growing number of strikes and mass actions by disgruntled employees lately.

    The official opposition party called on all employers and labour unions to regularly consult with their employees and members in order to avoid industrial action, which is detrimental to the country's productivity.

    PDM secretary-general Manuel Ngaringombe said industrial action also creates animosity between employers and employees that encourages hostility in the workplace.

    “Regular and productive consultations and engagements between these parties can easily avert such occurrences, as well as the worst-case scenarios of possible job losses for the employees and productive time lost for the employers.”

    Ngaringombe said the PDM had noted with concern that amidst the current economic challenges, employers were mainly concerned about the productivity of their companies and might forget that these same challenges were also affecting their employees.

    “We call upon both parties to embrace the need to take into account pertinent workplace issues as they seek to maintain their profit margins afloat and satisfaction for a hard day's work.”

    ELLANIE SMIT

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    Visa exemptions to be expeditedVisa exemptions to be expedited SADC countries that have not taken initiatives to operationalise bilateral visa exemptions have been directed by the SADC Council of Ministers to expedite this and report back by August 2019.

    International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who has taken over as the chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, provided feedback on Tuesday regarding the outcomes a meeting held earlier this week at the Safari Court Hotel in Windhoek.

    The council meeting was held in preparation of the Summit of Heads of State and Government that takes place on Friday and Saturday.

    Nandi-Ndaitwah said the council noted progress on the implementation of visa exemptions and commended member states that have taken initiatives to operationalise bilateral exemptions.

    She said a number of issues were discussed.

    These relate principally to priority programmes contained in the revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020, the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO II) and the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063.

    The council endorsed the 38th SADC Summit theme proposed by Namibia, in its capacity as the incoming chair.

    The theme is 'Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development'.

    The council further directed the secretariat to submit a comprehensive review report on the implementation of the revised RISDP during its meeting to be held in August 2019.

    It urged member states to focus on implementing activities in the approved two plans.

    Noting the SADC Groundwater Management Institute's financial sustainability plan, the council approved its subsidiary status application.

    The council also directed the secretariat to operationalise the Regional Gas Committee, develop the SADC Regional Gas Master Plan and urged countries to nominate members of the SADC Regional Gas Committee.

    Nandi-Ndaitwah said the council also urged countries to continuously intensify their advocacy and lobbying campaigns on gender parity, as per the provision in the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, and create a conducive environment and supporting structures for women to join and stay in politics and decision-making positions.

    It urged countries to commit to regional priority power projects aimed at enhancing security of supply, and take the necessary measures to enhance the packaging of projects, while creating an enabling environment for energy sector reforms, in order to attract investors.

    Countries were also urged to collaborate with the private sector to identify, package and attract investment, and implement regional value chain projects.

    Nandi-Ndaitwah said the climax of the SADC meetings will be on Friday and Saturday.

    The socio-economic situation in the region, as well as the global economic situation will be discussed, together with the performance of the SADC economy, gender and development, food security and HIV/Aids in the region.

    The summit will also receive a report on the operationalisation of the 37th summit theme: 'Partnering with the Private Sector to Develop Industry and Value Chains'.

    It will also approve the operationalisation of the SADC Regional Development Fund and the SADC University of Transformation and consider the status of the implementation of the industrialisation strategy and roadmap.

    The summit will also discuss issues of continental integration.

    These issues include the Tripartite and Continental Free Trade Area, implementation of the free movement of persons in Africa, African Union institutional reforms and the post-Cotonou arrangements.

    ELLANIE SMIT

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    Twilight of South African gold mining fuels job crisisTwilight of South African gold mining fuels job crisis‘Sunset industry’ Due to mechanisation and as deposits become harder to access profitably, mining’s contribution to the economy has fallen drastically. If you don't find work, you have to go rob people to eat, and I don't want to do that. - Andile Skweyiya, Miner Michelle Gumede - About 100 miners dressed in high-visibility workwear, balaclavas, gloves and boots line up against a shipping container that serves as a makeshift office at the Evander gold mine.

    They wait forlornly in the brisk Highveld winter. Their hope is to get work.

    This is the bitter daily routine for men and women recently made redundant from full-time employment at the mine, 100 kilometres east of Johannesburg.

    "We have been coming here every morning for the last three months from 5:00 am, waiting for the employer to call our names. But no-one comes. We carry our certificates and work papers each day," Andile Skweyiya, 43, told AFP.

    "There are no work opportunities anywhere for most of us," Skweyiya said.

    "If you don't find work, you have to go rob people to eat, and I don't want to do that."

    In May, mineowner Pan African resources let go 1 710 of 1 800 workers at the Evander Gold operation in Mpumalanga province, saying the site would undergo "care and maintenance" but that some surface work would continue.

    A small number of miners were later given short-term contracts, and others have since waited outside the mine hoping to also get piecemeal work.

    The mining sector once provided permanent work for many thousands of migrant workers.

    Now, the industry has waned to the point that "you can be retrenched [made redundant] anytime," mining analyst Mamokgethi Molopyane told AFP.

    On Tuesday, Gold Fields - one of South Africa's most venerable miners - announced plans to slash 1 100 jobs, or nearly a third of the full-time workforce, at its loss-making South Deep unit.

    Peak

    At their peak in the late 1980s, South Africa's mines employed 760 000 people, contributed 21% to GDP, according to government figures.

    Due to mechanisation and as deposits become harder to access profitably, the number has fallen drastically.

    Just over 460 000 people worked in the mines in 2017, about 112 200 of which were gold miners.

    Another 50 000 jobs were lost in the first quarter of 2018 compared to 2017, with the sector's contribution to GDP now below 10%.

    Unions

    Once powerful unions have also declined.

    Membership at South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), co-founded by now president Cyril Ramaphosa, has shrunk from about 340 000 in 1986 to 187 000.

    Ramaphosa, who came to power in February, faces the formidable challenge of tackling record national unemployment levels of 27%, with youth unemployment estimated at over 50%.

    Mining has played a central role in shaping South Africa's history since diamonds were discovered in Kimberley in 1868 and the Witwatersrand gold rush of 1886 that led to the establishment of Johannesburg.

    Jobs

    But now South Africa must look elsewhere for desperately-needed employment.

    "If we take a longer-term look at mining, the fact of the matter is that it is going to lose a lot of jobs," labour economist Andrew Levy said, adding that mining had shifted from being labour intensive to capital intensive.

    "There is going to be a huge loss of jobs there which will never be replaced."

    Sipho Pityana, head of South African mining giant AngloGold Ashanti, last month admitted gold was "a sunset industry".

    A third of South Africa's gold mines are unprofitable according to the Minerals Council.

    It estimates that the gold industry will see a sharp decline in production by 2019-20, with reserves exhausted as soon as 2033.

    The biggest problem is that mines are having to delve ever deeper for gold, placing them at a disadvantage against open mines elsewhere in the world.

    Some reach four kilometres below the surface, requiring heavy investment in machinery to get men to the seam and haul out the spoil.

    "Our gold mines are the deepest in the world, working places are further and further away from infrastructure, costs have spiralled," Minerals Council spokeswoman Charmane Russell said.

    Poverty

    With gold losing its shine, short-term labour agreements have left workers like Gugu Malatse, 33, earning far less money than when permanent employees.

    "Underground we worked from 7:00am until 12 midday and I earned 8 to R9 000 a month a month ... Now I get only up to R2 300 rand," Malatse told AFP.

    "We are being cheated and condemned to poverty."

    Others like the eSwatini (Swaziland) national, Vuyiswa Shlungunyana, 32, said they had not only lost their income but have also been evicted from the mines' hostel.

    For Ramaphosa, the master negotiator, a new deal between mining companies, government and unions is a priority to attract foreign investment and retain what jobs can be saved.

    "We want this mining charter to be finalised so that we can reposition this industry," Ramaphosa said at the recent NUM conference. – Nampa/AFP

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    Charcoal industry sets minimum wageCharcoal industry sets minimum wageNamibia the world's fifth largest charcoal exporter The growing charcoal industry has decided to improve conditions of employment in order to meet international standards. Namibian charcoal producers have agreed on a minimum wage for their workers, in addition to a basic standard of living conditions and the provision of free protective equipment and clothing.

    Moreover, national industry standards are being finalised to comply with international standards that guide export to European markets.

    The minimum wage for workers in the Tsumeb, Grootfontein and Otavi districts is equivalent to 41% of the selling price of unsifted charcoal and 43% of sifted charcoal, the Namibia Charcoal Association (NCA) confirmed this week.

    Workers in the Otjiwarongo and Outjo districts are to be paid a minimum of 38% of the selling price for unsifted and 40% for sifted charcoal.

    Workers in all other districts will be paid minimum wages in the same range, depending on the type of wood they work with, the Namibia Charcoal Association announced.

    Moreover, the minimum wages include 1% of the selling price in lieu of overtime payment and 3% in lieu of paid leave.

    The NCA further announced that charcoal workers required to live at their workplace would be provided with free housing, sanitation and water.

    Charcoal workers must further be provided with free safety equipment and clothing at least once a year.

    Employers must further provide an annual medical examination for each employee to ensure their occupational health and safety.

    These measures were agreed on at the recent annual general meeting of the NCA at Otjiwarongo.

    The association further announced that it supports the development of national industry standards, aligned to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which are expected to be finalised by the end of the year.

    Meeting FSC standards is a requirement for exporting charcoal to European markets.

    “This is important for Namibia because the nine export markets for its charcoal are largely based in Europe,” the NCA said.

    A main aim is to produce FSC-certified charcoal and “to meet the requirements for a more socially, economically and ecologically sound product”.



    More, more

    Producers say it is likely the country could export up to 200 000 tonnes of charcoal by 2020, up from 160 000 tonnes two years ago.

    Namibia is now ranked as the fifth largest charcoal exporter in the world and the largest charcoal exporter in southern Africa, the NCA said.

    The industry has been earmarked for strategic development under the fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) and is one of the ten industries singled out by the industrialisation, trade and SME development ministry's Growth at Home strategy.

    The NCA said based on the current market demand and the industry's ability to respond to that demand, it is estimated that charcoal exports will increase by 40 000 tonnes over the next two years.

    “This is good news for sustainable rangeland management in Namibia as the country's farmland is burdened by massive encroachment of bush species,” it said.

    Bush encroachment reduces the carrying capacity of farmland, uses up valuable groundwater, reduces the biodiversity of species and creates challenges for predator conservation efforts.

    The production of charcoal from invader bush serves several purposes: Combating bush encroachment, creating jobs and supplementing farm incomes.

    JANA-MARI SMITH

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    N$1m bribe offered for cocaine shipmentN$1m bribe offered for cocaine shipment State prosecutor Salomon Kanyemba has dropped a bombshell in the bail application of two men arrested in connection with a 412kg cocaine bust at Walvis Bay.

    Kanyemba told the court that four men had approached two State witnesses, one of whom is a clearing agent, on separate occasions and offered them between N$500 000 and N$1 million to remove the drugs from the container prior to its discovery by customs officials and police officers in the port.

    Grant Noble (36), represented by Jan H. Wessels, and Dinath Azhar (62), represented by Sisa Namandje, are applying for bail in the Walvis Bay Magistrate's Court.

    They are appearing before Magistrate Ilge Rheent.

    The State is opposing bail in connection with the biggest drug bust in the country's history. The cocaine, which was discovered in June at the port of Walvis Bay, was valued at about N$206 million.

    Rheent postponed the bail hearing until 3 September for finalisation of arguments. She is expected to deliver her ruling on 7 September.

    Wessels informed the court that Noble could afford N$50 000 bail and was prepared to adhere to strict bail conditions. Azhar said he could raise between N$30 000 and N$50 000 for bail.

    Both men maintained their innocence in the matter. They emphasised that they had never visited Brazil, were not present when the container was loaded and did not know who had sealed it.

    During court proceedings it emerged that Noble and Azhar met while attending services at a mosque in Narraville and discussed making money. A company called Zeeki Trading CC was subsequently created, with Noble as the sole member and Azhar as a silent partner and financier.

    According to the duo they conducted research on the internet and decided to import A4 photocopy paper from a company in Brazil.

    Azhar then sourced N$250 000 from his family members in South Africa to order the paper and they expected to make a profit of N$80 000 by selling it to local schools and companies.

    It also emerged that they had rented a warehouse, which they didn't use for over a year, at N$15 000 per month.

    A container with their goods eventually arrived in Walvis Bay on 9 June and was seized by customs officials on suspicion that it contained drugs.

    Noble said when he arrived at the container next to the port police station on a Friday, he saw members of the drug squad and a sniffer dog, which made him realise they were looking for drugs.

    The seal was broken in the presence of the two accused and two pallets were removed from the container. These contained A4 photocopy paper and were cleared to be removed.

    He said he proceeded to the north gate to sort out the required paperwork so that he could remove the cleared boxes.

    Noble then received a cellphone call from customs officials, demanding that he immediately return to the container.

    “When the dog started sniffing the second row of pallets it started biting at the boxes. When the boxes were opened they removed a block appearing to be cocaine. I knew this because I saw similar stuff taking place in a TV series titled 'Narcos'.

    “They proceeded and opened some of the blocks with a knife. I realised that this spelled trouble. I became dizzy, nauseous and collapsed. I hardly have anything to my name. How would I manage to import cocaine to the value of N$206 million?”

    The investigating officer, Detective Inspector Charles Goagoseb, said the State had a strong case and investigations had linked the two accused to the crime.

    “There is a strong possibility and I am confident that we will obtain convictions. The investigations have not been concluded yet and can take approximately one year to be completed, since there is a lot to be covered. Once done we could also add charges of racketeering and money laundering,” Goagoseb said.

    OTIS FINCK

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  • 08/15/18--16:00: Man fights for mahangu field
  • Man fights for mahangu fieldMan fights for mahangu field Lukas Johannes, who is fighting a legal battle over a piece of land with Stantoll Properties, a company owned by northern businessman Ben Zaaruka, claims the matter does not qualify to be heard by the court on an urgent basis.

    Johannes, in papers filed this week by his lawyer Henry Shimutwikeni, says that the arguments presented for an urgent application are not valid.

    The fight is over who is the rightful owner of Erf 6315 in Ongwediva's Extension 13.

    Stantoll Properties on 6 March brought an urgent application in the Oshakati High Court to interdict Johannes and his family from interfering in the extension of their shopping mall.

    Zaaruka claims that he rightfully owns the land, which he bought from the Ongwediva town council for N$1.4 million on 14 September 2010.

    The High Court on 7 March ruled in favour of Stantoll Properties and allowed it to start with construction.

    “In this application, Stantoll Properties seeks, together with ancillary relief, the eviction of Lukas Johannes on an urgent basis,” Johannes submitted.

    “These brief submissions endeavour to crisply demonstrate that Stantoll Properties unduly, to the inconvenience of this honourable court (and to the prejudice of other litigants) and without sufficient cause endeavours to jump the queue and seek an urgent application in the matter in respect of relief that it is not entitled to,” it further reads.

    Johannes argues that the court should not entertain Stantoll Properties' urgent application on the basis that the company will apparently suffer millions of dollars in damages as it had entered into lease agreements with retailers such as Shoprite.

    Johannes maintains that the two-hectare piece of land in question forms part of his mahangu field and that he was never compensated for it.

    Johannes this week also summonsed Ongwediva town council CEO Damian Egumbo, Stantoll Properties, President Hage Geingob, minister of urban and rural development Peya Mushelenga, land reform minister Utoni Nujoma, the registrar of deeds, attorney-general Albert Kawana and the government of Namibia to testify in this matter.

    Yesterday, the matter was heard in the Oshakati Magistrate's Court via video conferencing where Deputy Judge President Hosea Angula postponed the matter to 30 August for hearing.

    Wilmarie Horn, acting for Stantoll Properties, informed the court that Shimutwikeni only filed his heads of argument on 14 August although they had been due on 6 August. Angula ordered Johannes's legal team to rectify the issue by Friday and that Horn file her supplementary heads of argument.

    KENYA KAMBOWE

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    No money to compensate residents for developmentNo money to compensate residents for developmentNkurenkuru in dire straits The town suffers from a shortage of serviced land and a lack of infrastructural development. We need to compensate residents as per the government compensation policy, but due to the current economic crisis there are no funds. – Petrus Sindimba, CEO: Nkurenkuru NKURENKURU – The Nkurenkuru Town Council needs N$137 million to compensate 706 households to make way for the town’s development.

    The council’s chief executive officer (CEO), Petrus Sindimba, told Nampa the town council does not have the money to compensate residents, a challenge that is hindering the development process of the town.

    He said before Nkurenkuru was proclaimed as a town in 2006, it was a settlement area and many people were residing within the communal area.

    “For development to take place, we need to compensate residents as per the government compensation policy, but due to the current economic crisis there are no funds,” he said.

    Article 16(2) of the Namibian Constitution gives Parliament power to make laws that allow state-established bodies such as local authorities to expropriate property in the public interest, on condition that it pays compensation to those affected by such expropriation.

    Plan

    Sindimba noted that as per the town’s developmental plan, there are 19 extensions identified for the development of houses of which six have been fully serviced.

    The CEO added the town has a shortage of serviced land and there is a high demand for it as many government and private companies need land to build due to decentralisation of services.

    “Since the town council does not have money to develop the town entirely on its own, it has thus far partnered with two companies, Etemo Investment Property and G-Investment Property, in October 2017 through public-private partnerships to develop parts of the land,” Sindimba explained.

    The tender given to the two companies is to service erven with tarred roads and water, electricity and sewer connections as well as to build affordable houses on some erven.

    A related challenge at Nkurenkuru is lack of infrastructural development, with Sindimba pointing out that some government agencies and ministries were not developing land that was allocated to them free of charge.

    The donation of land to these institutions was an effort by the council to fast-track development in the town, the smallest in Namibia, and bring needed services to its residents.

    The town, described by Sindimba as being in its infant stage, is home to around 15 000 inhabitants. - Nampa

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    LME copper hits over 1-year lowLME copper hits over 1-year low London copper fell to a more than one-year low yesterday as the US dollar strengthened and the union at the world's largest mine in Chile said talks with operator BHP would be extended by another day in hope of averting a planned strike. The union at Escondida mine said on Tuesday it was closer to a contract agreement after days of closely-watched negotiations, amid fears of a repeat of last year's strike which dragged on for 44 days. Copper on the London Metal Exchange fell 1.8% on Tuesday and was on course for its fourth straight session of declines. Signs an Escondida strike could be avoided have "fanned the selling," ANZ wrote in a note. Photo Nampa/Reuters

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    Northern Cape seeks recycling projects with //KharasNorthern Cape seeks recycling projects with //Kharas KEETMANSHOOP – The Department of Environment and Nature Conservation in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa wants to engage the //Kharas Regional Council in setting up waste recycling projects.

    The director of environmental and quality management in the department, Bryan Fisher, made a proposal to the //Kharas Regional Council at a regional development coordination committee meeting (RDCC) on Tuesday.

    He explained that waste recycling is a possible economic instrument to create jobs and to ensure a clean and healthy environment in which communities can live and create a better future for themselves.

    Fisher said the two parties should undertake a waste audit to determine if the project would be feasible and economically sustainable.

    “The analysis of the waste streams will then guide us as to what the recycling potential is and if it would be economically sustainable so as to consider implementation of such a project. This also would be to identify the waste streams and volumes produce,” he added.

    The waste streams, he suggested, could include mining waste, waste generated from renewable energy facilities, paper, glass, cans, plastics, electronic waste and organic waste among others.

    Import

    Fisher continued that the two counterparts should also consider the importation of waste from other regions to bolster waste volumes in order to make the project economically viable.

    The objectives of the projects are to reduce the amount of waste generated that usually ends up on the landfill, while educating communities and exposing them to recycling programmes to see the benefit of recycling and start recycling at home.

    This will further create the opportunity for youth with a passion for recycling to venture into entrepreneurial partnerships with the Namibian government or even the private sector.

    RDCC meetings bring the //Kharas Regional Council and the Northern Cape Provincial Government of South Africa together to update possible stakeholders on developmental affairs between the two counterparts.

    This is part of a twinning agreement signed between the two areas on 14 September 1999, to look at economic development opportunities, safety and security and improve education and culture tolerance. - Nampa

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  • 08/15/18--16:00: Africa Briefs
  • Africa BriefsAfrica Briefs SA's 2018 growth to be ‘much lower’

    South Africa's economic growth this year will be "much lower" than initial expectations, the central bank said in a presentation to parliament yesterday, calling any recovery "weak and choppy".

    The South African Reserve Bank added that fixed investment was not expected to pick up meaningfully this year, while inflation risks remained on the upside. – Nampa/Reuters

    Nigeria injects millions into currency market

    Nigeria's central bank said on Tuesday it had injected US$210 million into the interbank foreign exchange market, extending efforts to boost liquidity and alleviate US dollar shortages.

    The bank said in a statement it had released US$100 million earmarked for the wholesale market, US$55 million for small businesses and individuals, and US$55 million for certain US dollar expenses such as school fees and medical bills. – Nampa/Reuters

    Burundi plans plastic bag ban

    Burundi's president, Pierre Nkurunziza, has issued a decree banning the use of plastic bags in the small central African country within the next 18 months.

    "The manufacture, import, storage, sale and use of all plastic bags and other plastic packaging is prohibited," said the presidential order signed by Nkurunziza on Monday and seen by AFP Tuesday.

    "A grace period of 18 months is granted, before the entry into force of this decree, to allow for the disposal of current stocks and orders already placed," the decree read.

    The decree includes some exemptions that may be authorised for "biodegradable plastic bags, bags and plastic materials used in medical services, and in industrial and pharmaceutical packaging".

    When the law comes into force Burundi will join a growing list of African countries that have introduced total plastic bag bans to fight pollution, including Morocco, Rwanda and Kenya. – Nampa/AFP

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  • 08/15/18--16:00: Preying on the vulnerable
  • Preying on the vulnerablePreying on the vulnerable An ongoing sex-trafficking trial in the Windhoek High Court is lifting the veil on how young women, trapped in the cycle of poverty, are being exploited.

    The evidence so far suggests that a young woman was lured, under false pretences, from the north to Okahandja, where she was allegedly passed from man to man, while an older woman, who according to the state acted as a pimp, pocketed money.

    Of course, everyone who appears in court is innocent until proven guilty, but this sordid tale has also shone a light in the dark places this country has descended into.

    In the same edition yesterday, we published a story dealing with the outcomes of a southern Africa gender survey, which found that 28% of women hold economic decision-making posts in Namibia, compared to more than 36% in Botswana and 23.5% in South Africa.

    One of the other findings was that 55% of respondents across the region felt people should be treated the same, whatever gender they are. Nevertheless, 56% said that a woman should obey her husband.

    While women are making some progress towards gender equality, many barriers, including emotional and physical violence, as well as workplace and economic discrimination, remain.

    Also, as the economic situation in the country leads to more joblessness, pain and suffering, women are becoming targets for the unscrupulous, who use false pretences to extract sexual and other favours.

    It is indeed a sad state of affairs, where our women are used and abused because they need to survive and put food on the table for their families.

    Another shocking statistic to emerge from the gender survey is that employers in all 15 SADC states pay women less than men.

    At 54%, the difference between women's and men's average earnings is highest in Swaziland and lowest in Botswana, with an average difference of 12%.

    This is unacceptable and warrants urgent attention from the powers that be.

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    Windhoek, Walvis swim in foreign moneyWindhoek, Walvis swim in foreign moneyAmong Africa’s top investment destinations A new report on foreign direct investment also ranks Namibia among the top 20 African destinations for Chinese investment. ELLANIE SMIT



    A global report has ranked Windhoek and Walvis Bay among the cities in Africa attracting the highest foreign direct investment (FDI), with the capital ranked 40th in terms of attracting FDI in Africa.

    Windhoek received US$958 million in foreign funds between 2013 and 2016, which is approximately N$14 billion at today’s exchange rate.

    The State of African Cities report also placed Windhoek at 460th globally in terms of attracting FDI.

    The rankings showed which African cities - out of 558 - received the most FDI in US dollars between 2003 and 2016, as well as their ranking among roughly 10 000 cities worldwide.

    It ranked Namibia among the top 20 African destinations for Chinese FDI.

    The report said from 2003 to 2014, Chinese FDI increased from 0.15% to 3.27%.

    Algeria, Zambia and Kenya, at that stage, were the countries that received the lion’s share.

    According to the report, Chinese capital prefers democratic countries since additional transaction costs may be demanded in countries with low levels of democracy, because of issues such as corruption.

    “Chinese capital does not enter Africa to merely exploit its resources and then leave. Rather, most Chinese investments in Africa are long-term. As some have pointed out, China has a clear strategy for Africa, but Africa has no strategy for China,” the report states.

    The report raises the issue of working conditions in Chinese-established factories in Africa, saying they are generally not satisfactory.

    It also says Walvis was ranked 42nd among the African cities attracting FDI, with US$401 million.

    There has been a 9.11% growth in FDI in Windhoek, while FDI in Walvis has seen a decline of 6.1% over the years.

    In total, FDI in Africa amounted to US$582 789 during the period under review, with the top-ranked cities being Cairo, Johannesburg and Tangier.

    Cairo received US$1.37 billion in FDI, while Johannesburg received US$1.32 billion and Tangier slightly more than US$1 billion.

    “The global rankings reveal that Cairo (64th) and Johannesburg (69th) are doing quite well in the global investment arena. However, no African city is found within the top 10 FDI recipient cities of the world.”

    According to the report most FDI in Africa has been in manufacturing.

    This is the most anchored and stable FDI sector with substantial scale, albeit with moderate investment growth (5%). Resources FDI, although at a significant scale, has shown strong negative growth (-17%) over the period 2003-2016.

    Going into the impact that FDI has on income inequality, it says at country level, Ethiopia has the fastest-growing economy in Africa, while also having the lowest level of income inequality (0.300), followed by Mali (0.307), Burundi (0.313), Egypt (0.314) and Namibia (0.333).

    “Zimbabwe, one the most unequal countries in Africa, has shown the largest decline in income inequality, followed by Namibia.”

    The report found that the impact of FDI on countries is determined by local conditions.

    It says that FDI leads to an increase in income inequality in host countries, but when controlled by other local factors such as absorptive capacity, human capital, the level of technology and the quality of institutions, FDI reduces income inequality.

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  • 08/15/18--16:00: No hope of early spring
  • No hope of early spring No hope of early spring Namibians should brace themselves for another chilly weekend, as it seems that winter is not ready to release its grip quite yet.

    Cold to very cold conditions are expected in the southern, central and eastern regions on Friday and Saturday.

    Weather forecaster Odilo Kgobetsi told Namibian Sun that a cold front will hit the country over the weekend.

    It will start getting cold on Friday. The south can expect maximum temperatures of 18 degrees and minimum temperatures of 2 to 3 degrees.

    In central Namibia the maximum temperature will be about 23 degrees, dropping to 3 to 4 degrees at night.

    Kgobetsi says Saturday will be the coldest and on Sunday temperatures will start rising again.

    He adds that this is not the last cold front that Namibians can expect this winter. Another one will set in from the middle of next week.

    Kgobetsi says winter is only likely to release its grip in September.

    Last Thursday night Namibia was hit by an intense cold front that caused black frost in Windhoek. The temperature in some areas dropped to minus 10 and even minus 15 degrees.

    In areas such as Windhoek’s Avis suburb, water pipes froze solid. Frost was also recorded in the Namib Dune Sea, where minus one degree was measured.

    The freezing temperatures continued throughout the weekend and only warmed up by Sunday.

    ELLANIE SMIT

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    Value chains to be developed to bankabilityValue chains to be developed to bankabilitySADC Summit Member states have submitted proposed value chains that are being analysed to determine suitability for project preparation and commercial viability to attract financing or investment. Settlement in US dollar on the current platform is expected to go live in October 2018. - Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, Executive Secretary: SADC A number of value chains in the Southern African Development Community’s mining, agro-processing and pharmaceutical subsectors will be developed to bankability and ready for investment by the private sector during 2018/19.

    This was said by SADC executive secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, during the official opening of the SADC Council of Ministers meeting in Windhoek on Monday.

    Tax encouraged private sector and financial institutions to take advantage and invest in these value chain projects.

    She explained that in line with the value chains that were profiled in 2016/17, namely mineral beneficiation and pharmaceuticals, the focus during the year under review was placed on developing value chain projects in these priority areas, and in profiling of agro-processing.

    She said member states have submitted proposed value chains that are being analysed to determine suitability for project preparation and commercial viability to attract financing or investment.

    This forms part of the implementation of the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020, which has industrialisation at its centre.

    Trade

    Tax said during 2017/18, which marked the third year of the implementation of the RISDP, the region also continued to implement measures to facilitate trade.

    “Offers for the liberalisation of trade in services were finalised by 14 member states in the four sectors of financial, tourism, transport, and communication services.”

    The negotiations in the other two priority sectors - construction and energy-related services - are ongoing with 12 member states which have submitted their offers in the construction services while nine in energy-related services.

    Tax expressed satisfaction with the progress made in the roll-out of the SADC Real Time Settlement System, which facilitates cross-border trade in the region.

    The system is moving from a single currency settlement system, which previously dealt with South African rand only, into a multi-currency settlement system with the addition of the US dollar.

    “Settlement in US dollar on the current platform is expected to go live in October 2018, while the whole multi-currency platform is expected to be fully operational by December 2019,” Lawrence said.

    The addition of the US dollar is expected to facilitate greater cross-border trade and investment in the region. - Nampa

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    Gold slumps to 18-month low Gold slumps to 18-month low Gold prices fell to their lowest since January 2017 yesterday as the US dollar hit an over 13-month peak on demand emerging from concerns about Turkey's financial turmoil. The greenback, in which gold is priced, has been bolstered by the euro's fall, which has been dogged by concerns over the European banks' exposure to Turkey. Spot gold was down 0.45% at US$1 188.24 an ounce at 0406 GMT, after hitting its lowest since late January 2017 at US$1 187.25. "If gold closes below US$1 190, prices will extend their fall to US$1 150 or even more ... We don't expect any major bounce back as all fundamentals are negative for gold," said Hareesh V, head of commodity research, Geojit Financial Services, based in south Indian city of Kochi. Photo Nampa/Reuters

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    Africa's top 3 independent retail categories that beat their global peersAfrica's top 3 independent retail categories that beat their global peers Carin Smith - Three independent retail categories in Africa are beating their global peers in terms of average gross monthly revenue - and not by small margins, according to a new report.

    Furniture stores come in at 100% more, sporting goods stores at 72% more, and electronics and appliance stores at 32% more.

    This is according to the Retail Benchmarks Report for 2018, released by global retail management software company Vend.

    Higor Torchia, country manager for Vend in the UK and EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), told Fin24 on Tuesday that independent retailers are small and medium retail enterprises which do not form part of big retail corporations.

    Vend's data shows that globally, the top independent categories in terms of gross monthly revenue are furniture stores; and beer, wine and spirits stores; while beauty and cosmetics stores tend to earn the least, on average.

    The report shows that, over the past year, Africa's independent retailers enjoyed sales volumes 25% higher than the global average, according to data from Vend.

    Vend’s Retail Benchmarks Report for 2018 compared data from over 13 000 retailers around the world. It reveals that globally, the average independent retail store makes US$22 300 (about R315 768) per month, with a gross margin of 51%.

    However, independent retailers in Africa are bucking that trend, with monthly sales volumes 25% higher, and revenue 9% higher than the global average.

    Across Africa, monthly sales volumes per store were 36% higher than retailers in North America, and 5% higher than those in the UK.

    Wavering loyalty

    Vend's data, however, also showed that African retailers have yet to make full use of customer loyalty. The report indicates that about 39% of African independent retailers are missing out on growing sales and repeat business through a loyalty programme.

    Torchia told Fin24 that South Africa was seen as a key country for Vend's growth in EMEA.

    He attributed the success of independent retailers in South Africa and the rest of Africa to what he called a real entrepreneurial spirit.

    At the same time, he said the main challenge for independent retailers in general was to have time to still create a good experience for their customers.

    One of his key focus areas in SA would be getting more partnerships to help customers provide a better experience for their customers, he said. – Fin24

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  • 08/15/18--16:00: BoN shows mercy … for now
  • BoN shows mercy … for nowBoN shows mercy … for nowRepo maintained at 6.75% Fitch Ratings anticipates that the central bank will maintain higher repo rates than its South African counterpart. Denver Kisting - Namibians have again been spared an interest rate hike by the country’s central bank.

    However, this news competes against an announcement that the country’s international rating retains its junk status.

    Equally, the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) yesterday said Namibia’s economy grew by -0.9% during 2017.

    This growth is less than the NSA had projected earlier.

    The governor of the Bank of Namibia (BoN), Ipumbu Shiimi, yesterday announced the bank’s monetary policy committee had decided to maintain the repo rate at 6.75%.

    Shiimi said this decision came in the wake of a review of global, regional and domestic economic and financial developments.

    In a statement released by the BoN, Shiimi said: “This rate remains appropriate to continue supporting domestic growth, while maintaining the one-to-one link between the Namibia dollar and the South African rand.”

    Global outlook

    According to Shiimi, “the global economy is projected to grow by 3.9% in 2018 – up from 3.8% in 2017 – on account of favourable financial conditions and strong investment in both advanced economies and emerging market and developing economies.”

    He cautioned that the global outlook remains vulnerable. “Key risks to the global outlook remain and include, amongst others, increased levels of trade protectionism, geopolitical tensions as well as the global impact of monetary policy normalisation.”

    The repo rate has remained unchanged since August last year when, for the first time since 2012, the BoN had reduced the rate at which money is lent to commercial banks.

    At the time, deputy governor Ebson Uanguta announced that the monetary policy committee of the central bank had reduced it by 25 basis points to 6.75%.

    Yesterday’s announcement came on the same day that the ratings agency, Fitch, issued a statement in which it retains its junk status.

    Issuing its latest opinion on the Namibian sovereign credit rating, Fitch said it expected the BoN to maintain higher repo rates than the South African Reserve Bank to "forestall capital outflows and protect international reserves which we nonetheless forecast to fall to 3.2 months of current account payments in 2020 from 4.4 months in 2017".

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    Swapo MPs mum during question timeSwapo MPs mum during question time JANA-MARI SMITH

    Only one Swapo MP asked questions last year during National Assembly question-and-answer sessions (Q&As).

    An overview, which forms of a study by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), authored by Max Weylandt and Ndeapo Wolf, showed that out of 159 parliamentary questions, only eight (around 5%) were asked by Swapo, and all by one MP, Veikko Nekundi.

    This reduces the Q&A mechanism to a “cross-party accountability measure rather than a legislative-executive one”, the study found.

    The Q&A sessions nevertheless “exemplify the best and the worst of Namibian democracy”.

    The IPPR noted that the lack of accountability could ultimately be rooted in a “more profound structural issue: namely, the dominance of Swapo in the National Assembly”.

    This is because the vast majority of MPs are members of the ruling party and as such members of the executive, who are tasked to provide answers to questions.

    The study into the strength and weaknesses of Q&A sessions found that although accountability is touted as one of the key benefits, the system faces numerous obstacles that weaken the mechanism’s effectiveness as an accountability tool.

    Although there are challenges, including a narrow focus on interests and a lack of resources and skills, which often lead to ineffective questions, and although ministers “can find ways to skirt accountability”, it is an “imperfect instrument, but one that shows its latent promise nonetheless”, the paper concluded.

    One of the promising aspects of the Q&A mechanism is that it provides a “regular ritual of accountability”, which has “normalised the practice of questioning government officials’ performances”.

    The importance of this should not be understated,” the authors found.

    Ask away

    Most of the questions posed last year came from the opposition, led by the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), with a total of 65 questions.

    The United Democratic Front (UDF) submitted 46 questions.

    The fewest questions were from the Workers Revolutionary Party and the United People’s Movement (UPM), which each submitted one question each.

    With 46 questions, financial mismanagement questions dominated, followed by 39 on the economy and employment and 35 related to constituency issues.

    Maladministration (28 questions) and agriculture and environment questions (22) also topped the question themes last year.

    The UDF’s Apius Auchab led the pack of MPs who dominated questions, submitting a quarter or a total of 42 of all questions during the year.

    He was followed with 22 questions by the PDM’s Jennifer van den Heever, 14 by Nico Smit from the same party and 13 posed by Mike Kavekotora of the Rally of Democracy (RDP).

    Female voices

    Overall, only three questions were related to gender, with two belonging to Van den Heever - one on gender-based violence and the other to child marriage.

    The third gender-related question was posed by the Auchab on the topic of breastfeeding.

    And while women MPs of opposition parties were well-represented in posing questions, the lack of female voices among Swapo MPs represented the overall lack of engagement in the asking process within the party.

    “None of Swapo’s 21 women backbenchers asked a question in 2017.”

    The IPPR paper found that although women’s issues were a marginal topic, it reflects trends in other countries with high female representation, including Britain, where a low number of questions are related to women’s issues.

    And while troubling, women MPs overall raised a broad range of topics during parliamentary question time, including the land resettlement scheme, illicit capital outflows and tax evasion, suggesting they are willing and prepared to tackle a wide range of relevant topics, and not necessary restricting themselves to gender issues.

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