Articles on this Page
- 02/19/19--14:00: _Penguins continue t...
- 02/19/19--14:00: _Three of four Swako...
- 02/19/19--14:00: _Joblessness rate 'a...
- 02/19/19--14:00: _Cause for concern
- 02/19/19--14:00: _Company news in brief
- 02/19/19--14:00: _RDP wants EVMs removed
- 02/19/19--14:00: _Low Orange River th...
- 02/19/19--14:00: _TradePort gets mang...
- 02/19/19--14:00: _Taxed to death
- 02/19/19--14:00: _Africa Briefs
- 02/19/19--14:00: _Marenica executes N...
- 02/19/19--14:00: _Vehicle sales hit a...
- 02/19/19--14:00: _First Lady enters s...
- 02/19/19--14:00: _Shaningwa humbled
- 02/19/19--14:00: _Boyfriend appears f...
- 02/19/19--23:46: _SOE virus hits medi...
- 02/20/19--14:00: _Semenya stirs fiery...
- 02/20/19--14:00: _Nauseb's return cou...
- 02/20/19--14:00: _Kanalelo unfazed by...
- 02/20/19--14:00: _Top 8 kicks off
- 02/19/19--14:00: Penguins continue to die en masse
- 02/19/19--14:00: Three of four Swakop escapees arrested
- 02/19/19--14:00: Joblessness rate 'a major concern'
- 02/19/19--14:00: Cause for concern
- 02/19/19--14:00: Company news in brief
- 02/19/19--14:00: RDP wants EVMs removed
- 02/19/19--14:00: Low Orange River threatens grape exports
- 02/19/19--14:00: TradePort gets manganese green light
- 02/19/19--14:00: Taxed to death
- 02/19/19--14:00: Africa Briefs
- 02/19/19--14:00: Marenica executes Namibian strategy
- 02/19/19--14:00: Vehicle sales hit another speed bump
- 02/19/19--14:00: First Lady enters shack fray
- 02/19/19--14:00: Shaningwa humbled
- 02/19/19--14:00: Boyfriend appears for Unam student's murder
- 02/19/19--23:46: SOE virus hits medical aid industry
- 02/20/19--14:00: Semenya stirs fiery debate
- 02/20/19--14:00: Nauseb's return could haunt Stars
- 02/20/19--14:00: Kanalelo unfazed by Maritzburg's woes
- 02/20/19--14:00: Top 8 kicks off
The latest official count shows that 345 penguins, mostly adults, have died, but scientists estimate that more than 500 could have died since December.
In a desperate effort to curb infection, local scientists this week consulted widely with veterinarians and virologists to address a possible source of the avian influenza (H5N8) virus on the island.
“We have noticed that most affected penguins are clustered around colony two on the south side of the island, and in particular near a muddy wet patch adjoining this colony,” a Facebook post shared by scientists on the Lüderitz Marine Research group said yesterday.
The scientists wondered whether the muddy patch might be a factor in the continuing mortality, as it is crossed daily by adult penguins returning from sea.
The H5N8 virus is known to survive for a lengthy period in a wet environment.
Following consultations with veterinarians and virologists, ministry of fisheries employees spread buckets of salt over the mud patch before covering it with beach sand, based on the fact that the virus apparently does not survive well in a high-salinity environment.
Twenty more adult penguin carcasses, in addition to two juveniles and two chicks, were burnt to curb the spread of the disease.
The long-term impact of the outbreak on the endangered penguin species is a cause for concern.
“Halifax Island is one of the few localities across the African penguin's distribution where penguin numbers have been increasing over the last few years,” the scientists said.
In comparison, South African populations continue to plummet.
Before the outbreak, the island was home to about 7 000 adult penguins, including roughly 1 400 breeding pairs.
The bird flu has killed mostly adult penguins, of which the majority were breeders, “which makes the loss even more tragic”.
African penguins only start breeding at the age of five years and they form lifelong, monogamous pairings.
“It will take some time to replace these breeding pairs in the population,” the scientists said.
Earlier this year, when the mass deaths became obvious but the cause was still unknown, the scientists said they were seeing “decades of conservation efforts and rehabilitation work vanishing before our eyes”.
Official confirmation by the state veterinary laboratory that the mass mortality was caused by the H5N8 virus only became available last week.
Critics said the “unnecessary” delay in identifying the disease first noticed in December had weakened their ability to respond sooner. But the Lüderitz Marine Research group admitted that “frustratingly little” could be done to stop the spread of the virus besides monitoring the situation, incinerating carcasses and adhering to strict biosafety protocols.
A visit by local scientists to Halifax Island on 16 January made it “immediately clear that a mass mortality was happening”.
A fisheries ministry team was dispatched the next day to collect samples for analysis by the Central Veterinary Laboratory.
After a lengthy wait for feedback from the lab, additional samples were taken on 2 February and another 11 days passed before an official statement was issued.
Mathias Nuujoma, 27, Ngenokesho Stefanus, 23, and Fabianus Lazarus, 26, were arrested at Oshihedi Sheengombe village in the Ondjiva area in Angola.
Daniel Stefanus Nghilifa, 28, is still at large, Gurirab said.
The four escaped from custody on 11 February when they allegedly cut the window bars of their cell with an unknown object.
The four men are awaiting separate trials for the murders of three people in Swakopmund.
Nuujoma, Stefanus, and two other accused are on trial for the murder of 38-year-old Joseph Ndeyapo Hekandjo after an argument at a club in Walvis Bay in 2016.
They reportedly stabbed and killed Hekandjo in front of the club.
Meanwhile, Lazarus and Nghilifa stand accused in a double murder case after they allegedly murdered Swakopmund couple, Roswitha Strzelecki, 79, and her husband, 81-year-old Siegfried Strzelecki in 2017.
The two accused were part of a trio when they allegedly committed the crime and also face robbery and aggravated assault charges in the matter.
The search to trace and re-arrest the remaining suspect continues, noted Gurirab.
This is according to founder and chairman of the International University of Management (IUM) governing council, Dr David Namwandi, who said there is a serious need for the creation of employment and wealth.
The country's jobless rate was estimated at around 38% by the 2016 Namibia Labour Force Survey (NLFS) of the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), while almost 44% of the youth population remain without jobs. Namwandi was speaking yesterday during the official opening of the IUM Nkurenkuru campus academic year, where he called on all stakeholders to take the issue of unemployment seriously and try by all means address it.
Namwandi stressed he cannot accept the fact that Namibia, with a population of about 2.4 million, has such a high unemployment rate, saying that in other countries, a 5% jobless rate was cause for concern.
“We are just 2.4 million in this country and we are struggling to feed ourselves in terms of employment. Let us face it, it is totally unacceptable,” Namwandi said.
“We are talking of an over 30% unemployment rate and still some people are comfortable with it, we should not be comfortable at all. Overseas, if people see that the unemployment is around 3 to 5%, they get worried, but we are content with over 30% unemployment.”
Namwandi said as much as people place the blame on government, addressing national issues should be a collective effort, and therefore citizens should play their role and create employment opportunities.
“The government is there to create a conducive environment in which we should operate in,” he said.
Namwandi said IUM was not established to produce students who will only seek to become employees once they graduate.
“IUM is not a factory to produce employees. We are producing employers. Our graduates should go out there and create jobs for themselves, their families, friends and the entire country, and in turn, generate wealth.”
Namwandi used the opportunity to encourage students, saying there is no such thing as a wrong field of study and that it is up to them to make a success of the careers.
Namwandi also spoke on the issue of companies requesting graduates to have a certain number of years of work experience before being employed.
This, Namwandi said, will be addressed in the coming months, as IUM has decided to employ students while they are in their second year, which means that by the time the student graduates he or she would have obtained three years of work experience.
He, however, stressed that not all second-year students will be employed, while hinting they will look at academic performance and discipline.
The Omusati Region noted a significant delay in the onset of the 2018/19 rainfall season which subsequently resulted in delayed cultivations. Despite some showers received at the end of October to early November, a total lack of follow-up rains has delayed these agricultural activities. It was noted that the bulk first half of the 2018/19 rainfall season was dry as productive rainfall was only realised at end of December to early January.
This is according to the Agricultural Inputs and Household Food Security Monitoring Assessment that was conducted in the seven northern communal major crop-producing regions. The assessment that was released by the agriculture ministry was done from 18 November to 18 December last year.
At the time of the assessment, the Omusati Region was still dry and many farmers were seen clearing their crop fields for cultivation.
It was reported that the region was still waiting for seed and fertiliser consignments, which are expected to be less than that of last season because of a limited budget allocation this season. “Nevertheless, the majority of the farmers were reported to have retained sufficient good quality seeds, following a good crop harvest obtained last season. However, due to the prevailing poor rainfall patterns, farmers indicated that they would need improved seeds which can produce reasonably under poor rainfall conditions,” according to the report.
The region also indicated that it had carryover stock of cowpeas from last season, which are reportedly in less demand due to low quality and high prices.
The region has about 20 government tractors that are in good working condition for ploughing, ripping, and planting services.
It was noted that the region received nine new tractors this season to add to its existing fleet, however four tractors have been reported to have mechanical faults since last season.
Moreover, registrations of farmers, drought animal service providers and private tractor owners to partake in the government agricultural subsidy services were ongoing at the time of the assessment.
According to the report poor grazing conditions were reported in most parts of the region except in the cattle post areas where grazing was said to be in fair to good condition.
“Livestock body condition was reported to range between poor and fair in most areas, but good in the cattle post areas. Some livestock in the poor grazing areas are said to be in a poor condition with some unable to stand up on their own due to malnutrition,” says the report.
The situation is reportedly being exacerbated by delayed rainfall and many farmers have since started to supplement their livestock feeding with crop stalks in order to better the situation.
Household food security was also noted to be good as most households could still rely on last season's harvest for food access. According to household owners, their harvest is sufficient and is expected to sustain them to the next harvest in May this year.
In the Ohangwena Region, the rainfall season was severely delayed, despite the early good showers.
The region is reported to have received its first rain for the 2018/19 rainfall season at the end of October to early November. However, there were no follow-up rains to back-up the onset of the rainfall season.
At the time of the assessment, the region indicated its readiness to kick-start the season in terms of subsidy services.
However, it was reported that, only top dressing fertilisers were available from last season and there were no basal dressing fertilisers in stock, while the region was still waiting for fertiliser stock to arrive.
The region is reported to have received improved pearl millet seed under the subsidy programme. The report says that Ohangwena agricultural extension officials indicated that the region received about 16 tons of pearl millet from the Northern Namibia Seed Growers Cooperative, which is about 20% less than last season's allocation.
According to the report the majority of farmers were able to retain sufficient pearl millet seed, following a good harvest last season.
With regard to ploughing services, the region reported that most government tractors were already dispatched for ploughing, ripping or planting services, except the few that are yet to be serviced or repaired. Registrations of farmers to participate in government inputs and ploughing, planting and weeding services were ongoing.
Furthermore no grazing has been depleted, especially in the west of the region, but is much better in the east due to shrubs and bushes sprouting new leaves.
With regard to household food security, the situation was noted to be satisfactory, as most households are reported to still be dependent on last season's harvest for food access. According to households, their harvest is enough and is expected to sustain them until the next harvest in May 2019.
South Africa's struggling state-owned airline will reorganise into three business units as part of a revamp plan that could also involve the partial sale of its catering unit, its chief executive officer said on Monday.
Vuyani Jarana said during a briefing that South African Airways (SAA), which hasn't made a profit since 2011, would organise itself into domestic, regional and international business units.
Each unit will have its own management, rather than decisions being centralised, in a bid to make the airline more agile and increase accountability.
Jarana also said the firm was exploring the partial sale of its catering unit, Air Chefs, as part of the restructuring.
SAA, which expects to make another large financial loss this year, hopes to turn a profit by 2021 via restructuring and cutting jobs and routes.
But its finances were dealt another blow last week when it was ordered to pay R1.1 billion rand to rival Comair to settle an anti-competition case. – Nampa/Reuters
Petra Diamonds appoints Duffy as CEO
Miner Petra Diamonds Ltd on Monday reported lower first-half adjusted core earnings hurt by falling diamond prices, and said it had appointed industry veteran Richard Duffy as its new chief executive officer.
Petra, which runs the iconic Cullinan mine in South Africa, said adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell 6.4% to US$75.6 million in the six months ended December 31, from US$80.8 million a year ago.
The company said Duffy, a former AngloGold Ashanti finance director and head of AngloGold's African operations, would assume the role on April 1, in place of Johan Dippenaar, who decided to step down in September last year.
Petra told Reuters last week its debts from the Cullinan mine stood at around 65% of its overall US$650 million in borrowing, which would represent about US$420 million.
The company stuck to its production forecast 3.8-4.0 million carats for fiscal 2019. – Nampa/Reuters
Tel Aviv Stock Exchange expects IPO to go ahead
The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) expects to float nearly a third of its shares in an initial public offering some time this year, its chief executive officer said on Monday.
The exchange aims to become competitive, cheaper and more efficient after around 200 de-listings over the past decade and a slump in trading volumes. It has sought to list on its own exchange since it demutualised in 2017 and became a for-profit exchange.
"We are a good asset," CEO Itai Ben Zeev told reporters. "So, it isn't an IPO I foresee will be a big challenge to finish with regards to pricing and stuff like that."
Ben Zeev said last September that the bourse hoped to sell at least 31.7% of its shares solely to retail investors by the end of 2018, but on Monday he said that staff demands had made that timeframe impossible to meet, without elaborating on what the demands were.
TASE hosts 447 listed companies with a combined market value of US$209 billion. Ben Zeev reiterated his aim to get the public more involved, noting the bourse has lost 40% of investors since 2010. – Nampa/Reuters
Bottler Coca-Cola HBC buys Bambi
Soft drink bottler Coca-Cola HBC said on Monday it would buy Serbian biscuit and confectionary maker Bambi for an enterprise value of 260 million euros (US$294 million) from private equity investor Mid Europa Partners.
The Swiss-based company, which bottles and sells Coca-Cola Co drinks in 28 countries, said Bambi had revenue of around 80 million euros in 2018, of which more than two thirds were earned in Serbia and the rest in the Western Balkans.
It said the company had "strong" profitability and a margin on earnings before interest and taxation that was nearly three times higher that of Coca-Cola HBC.
Shares of the Switzerland-based bottler fell last week after it warned of higher finance costs on its existing borrowing and weak consumer spending in several of its markets this year.
The deal to buy Bambi is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019, Coca-Cola HBC said. – Nampa/Reuters
Uber agrees to pay VAT in Egypt
Uber has agreed to pay value-added tax on its services in Egypt, Egyptian officials said on Monday, a move that may help resolve a long-simmering feud with traditional taxi drivers.
The agreement would also apply to other ride-hailing companies, the head of the Egyptian Tax Authority, Abdel Azeem Hussein, said. Egypt's value-added tax (VAT) rate is 14%.
Egypt introduced a law last May regulating ride-hailing apps Uber and Careem, after Egyptian taxi drivers filed a lawsuit arguing that the two companies were illegally using private cars as taxis and were registered as a call centre and an internet company, respectively.
An Egyptian court suspended Uber and Careem's services in March last year after the taxi drivers' suit but another court stayed the suspension ruling in April, allowing the companies to operate while the case was appealed to a higher court. A verdict is expected on Saturday.
Uber has faced regulatory and legal setbacks around the world amid opposition from traditional taxi services. It has been forced to quit several countries, including Denmark and Hungary. – Nampa/Reuters
The party says the ruling Swapo Party insists on the use of the machines in order to “rig elections and maintain corruption”.
RDP member of parliament Mike Kavekotora tabled a motion in the National Assembly in October last year, saying political parties, civil organisations and interest groups should gauge the opinion of the nation regarding the use of EVMs.
The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) last year had discussions about the EVMs with the parliamentary standing committee on legal and constitutional matters.
Kavekotora yesterday said the motion was a “critical development”, which the ECN tried to “dilute” by making public utterances about not having money to implement a “credible and trusted” electoral system.
“Allow the parliamentary committee on legal and constitutional affairs to complete its job,” said Kavekotora and impressed it upon the committee to ensure that it completes its task well ahead of this year's national election.
RDP's secretary of information, Nghiningilwandubo Kashume, said the party had campaigned against the introduction of EVMs since the very beginning. Alternatively, he said, the party had asked that the EVMs be implemented with a voter-verifiable paper trail (VVAT), which did not happen.
“This was left out deliberately to enable Swapo to continue rigging the elections in their favour,” Kashume charged. Kashume said the use of EVMs do not favour the democratic principles of transparency and accountability. The RDP leaders said the ECN had introduced the EVMs under the pretext that they would result in a faster and more efficient tallying of votes.
However, they said, the voting machines proved to be unreliable and insecure. Most importantly, they said, the EVMs left no evidence of votes that could be verified and challenged in a court of law.
Kavekotora said it was telling that Swapo declined to use EVMs at its congress last year.
“The ruling party has shown doubt in the EVMs. It has expressly said it does not trust the system. How does it want Namibians to trust the system when it does not?” he asked.
Kavekotora proposed a return to ballot papers, which he said were a tried, tested and verifiable system.
“At least that will bring back the evidence,” Kavekotora said.
Commenting on his Twitter feed, Robert McGregor, an economist with Cirrus Capital, said this year was likely to be another poor year for agriculture in Namibia.
“Five of the past seven years have been drought years and this year is set to add to the tally. This does not bode well for the agriculture sector, one of the largest employers in this depressed economy,” he wrote.
McGregor pointed out that according to the 2016 Namibia Labour Force Survey (latest available), unemployment stood at 34%.
“Given the economic depression, this has no doubt risen.”
The survey indicates that the agriculture sector lost a massive
89 540 jobs between 2014 and 2016, when the country was suffering consecutive drought years.
The sector, which is one of the largest employers in the country and also one of the biggest contributors to the GDP, shed more than 50% of its jobs during this period.
In 2014, 165 000 people were employed as skilled labourers in the agriculture sector. Last year this number dropped to 75 714.
The 2018 labour force survey is expected to be released in the next few months.
“While much attention is drawn to livestock and crop farming, and rightly so, another problem has been highlighted recently in the news,” McGregor wrote.
“Residents and farmers have been complaining about the dangerously low water levels of the Orange River.”
It has been reported that Namibian grape farmers along the Orange River suspect that increased water use upstream by South African grape farmers was the cause of the lower part of the river running dry.
Namibian grape farmers say the lower Orange River is not supposed to ever run dry, as there is enough water in the Orange-Vaal River system following good rains in its catchment areas.
They believe there is a lack of control over water use in areas upstream. McGregor agreed that given decent rains in the catchment areas in South Africa, the river level should not be this low.
According to the latest river bulletin issued by the hydrological department in the agriculture ministry, the level of the Orange River at Blouputs stood at 0.51 metres this week and at Sendelingsdrift at 0.19 metres.
“Very low levels are observed on the lower Orange River at our hydrological stations, namely Blouputs and Sendelingsdrift. Users should take note of the fluctuating low levels and take the necessary precautionary measures,” the bulletin warned. McGregor said these low water levels could devastate an important Namibian export product, namely table grapes, grown under irritation on the banks of the Orange River. He said the hot climate means that Namibia's grapes ripen very early, allowing the country to capture a premium market.
During the financial year 2017/18, Namibian table grape exports were valued at slightly over N$636 million – more than all other horticultural exports combined.
Statistics provided by the Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (Amta) indicate that during the 2016/17 financial year Namibia exported 23 884 tonnes of table grapes to Europe (6%) Asia (6%), Africa (2%) and other countries (2%). This earned Namibia more than N$566.8 million in foreign exchange.
“Namibia being a net importer and running a trade deficit, these grapes earn us much-needed hard currency and contribute to our forex reserves, helping guarantee the 1:1 peg to the rand.
“These growers also hire a significant number of people. Losing these farms would not only see us lose out on crucial hard currency earnings, but would further add to the higher unemployment and poverty in the areas where they operate,” said McGregor.
The agriculture ministry has not responded to questions about the low level of the Orange River and complaints about a misuse of water quotas by South Africa.
The ECC was issued on 7 February and confirmed by environment ministry spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda, who said it was done after a “thorough assessment” and after “all other inputs” were received for the application. The ECC is for the “importing and exporting of manganese ore and other commodities”.
“Normally such an issuance of the ECC means that the ministry is satisfied [with an] environmental management plan provided for such an activity,” Muyunda said.
He did not say if there would be any consequences for TradePort for having brought in the manganese ore from South Africa to Lüderitz during late December last year and early January this year without having secured an ECC at that time.
A contravention of the Environmental Management Act of 2007 could result in a fine not exceeding N$500 000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 25 years, or both.
A Lüderitz residents lobby group had petitioned for an immediate moratorium on the movement of manganese ore to and from the harbour, until sufficient environmental research had been done to identify and limit potential negative and fatal impacts.
The group refused to comment on the ECC that was issued to TradePort, saying it had not received enough information from the environment ministry.
“No comment,” said one resident, Crispin Clay, adding the lobby group was still investigating the circumstances surrounding the issuing of the ECC.
“We are, however, not impressed with what we consider a shady and underhanded way this matter has been handled by TradePort, Namport and possibly the ministry. This was not done in the spirit of the law. We are being treated like mushrooms,” Clay said.
The residents maintained that TradePort under no circumstances held public consultations with them, and that the company had merely placed advertisements in which it expressed its intent to move the manganese ore through Lüderitz in newspapers hardly available at the town.
“We are not satisfied; we won't let it rest there,” Clay said.
Conditions of ECC
The conditions of the ECC stipulate that potential dust-generating materials may not be stockpiled in the open at the Ariamsvlei border through which the manganese is imported from South Africa.
Such materials may also not be stockpiled in the open on a concrete slab that TradePort had prepared for stockpiling, or at the Namport site at the harbour. The conditions also stipulate that only fully-closed bagged or containerised materials may be stockpiled “in line with TransNamib and Namport requirements”.
Further, all potentially dusty materials such as manganese lumpy ore is to be transported from South Africa straight into fully enclosed warehouses at Ariamsvlei and the Lüderitz port, with no intermediate stockpiling on the concrete slab.
Should additional stockpiling be required outside the port area, a warehouse must be constructed at the concrete slab.
The ECC states that this measure should “significantly reduce the risk of dust emissions to the local environment and traffic congestion or bottlenecks within the town”.
Truck deliveries are to be spread over a longer period and should take place at a “significantly reduced frequency”.
Manganese ore and all other materials to be transported must be “contained and be in a stable state, covered in trucks and treated against dusty-generation properties” along the B3 and B4 roads to Lüderitz and at the storage facility within the port area.
The ECC also states that manganese ore must be sieved at South African mines, handled with appropriate moisture content and must “always covered to avoid dust emissions” along the way.
The loading of the manganese onto ships at the harbour is to be done in line with Namport operational requirements. The ore must be “covered at all times and handled with appropriate moisture content”, in order to avoid dust emissions.
However, despite the deep recession that Namibia finds itself in, it said, “we are in an environment where fiscal and monetary policies cannot be adjusted to address the slowing growth”.
“The reality is that the government is consolidating; further tax policies are being proposed and monetary policy is expected to tighten,” SSS said in its report, while reiterating that market confidence remains low, and predicting positive economic growth of 0.7% in 2019.
SSS also expects government revenue to drop by 4.2%, 8.2% and 12.6% to N$54.3 billion, N$52.9 billion and N$53.6 billion in the financial years 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21, respectively, on the back of sluggish VAT collection, lower South African Customs Union (SACU) revenues and declining income taxes on individuals and companies.
In 2018, Business Tech reported in 2018 that only 30% of South Africa’s population pays taxes, while in Namibia this figure is only 24%. What this effectively means is that 24% of the Namibian population subsidises the other 76%, who simply contribute to state coffers through VAT payments etc.
Effectively, the tax burden is spread too thin, which means that the few have the massive task of shovelling money into the state, while the rest shirk their responsibilities or earn too little to make a meaningful contribution.
In April last year it was reported that government had managed to collect about N$1.4 billion in outstanding taxes out of an initial figure of N$4 billion owed by companies, which excludes penalties and fines.
The obvious inference to be drawn is that loyal taxpayers are at the receiving end of filling gaping holes in our fiscus. A shocking amount of money gets subtracted from employees each month that should rather have been used to create wealth. Slowly but surely, they are being taxed to death.
South Africa needs to invest more to rebuild confidence in its ability to supply power, its energy minister said yesterday, after its state-run power firm was forced to implement some of the worst blackouts in years.
"Deteriorating Eskom plant performance driven by old generation infrastructure confirms that we are now in need of more investment in new generation capacity," Jeff Radebe said at a conference in Johannesburg, adding president Cyril Ramaphosa's efforts to entice investment could otherwise be undermined.
Years of mismanagement and governance problems at Eskom have left the company, which supplies 90% of South Africa's power, saddled with debt and ailing power plants, a situation Radebe described as "untenable". – Nampa/Reuters
Nigeria's election delay triggers stock-market sell-off
A delay in Nigeria's presidential elections set off the biggest decline in the country's stock market in six months on Monday and also put pressure on its bonds and currency.
Nigeria's electoral commission postponed the vote hours before polls were due to open on Saturday, citing the logistical complexities of holding an election in a large country with a population of 180 million.
Lagos's main stock market finished down 1.6%, after a last-minute recovery. At one point, it had fallen more than 2.5%, its biggest slump since September and a turnaround from the three-month high it reached last week.
Currency traders reacted by pushing one-year non-deliverable naira forwards to 401 per US dollar from 397. The naira remains partly controlled by the central bank and was stable at 306.80 per US dollar on the spot market.
Investors had started to pick up shares to position for a post-election rally, assuming that the election would pass without violence or other problems. That boosted US dollar liquidity on the currency market.
The government's US dollar-denominated bonds sold off, too, and as yields rose, analysts wondered what kind of impact that would have on a naira-denominated debt auction later in the week. – Nampa/Reuters
Kenya's domestic debt refinancing risks rise
Kenya's government faces increased refinancing or roll over risks as more domestic bonds mature within the next year than in the past year, the ministry of finance said.
The International Monetary Fund bumped up the East African nation's debt distress risk to moderate from low last October, citing rising external commercial borrowing and growing interest payments on public debt.
The maturing of domestic debt is due to shorten, with 43% of the debt maturing in less than a year, up from 38% the previous year, the treasury said in a debt management strategy document seen by Reuters on Monday after being sent to parliament by the treasury on Thursday.
Market conditions had not been "supportive" of the government's aim of lengthening the maturity profile of the debt through issuance of longer-dated bonds in the 2017/18 (July-June) financial year, the ministry said.
The 2019 local debt maturities account for US$10.37 billion out of the total outstanding local debt of US$24.21 billion, the ministry said in the document. – Nampa/Reuters
The EPL for Mine 72 was granted and Marenica has started with exploration, the company said.
The other applications are “currently undergoing due process”, Marenica said. “As each EPL is granted, Marenica intends to commence exploration for uranium.”
“Marenica will have the largest uranium land holding in Namibia, if all tenements are granted,” the announcement stated.
“This is a very exciting time for the company with excellent uranium exploration occurrences identified. We have commenced exploration activities in Namibia and we look forward to the initial results from these programmes in the near term,” said the managing director of the company, Murray Hill.
According to Marenica’s latest quarterly report, released at the end of January, the company intends spending 200 000 Australian dollar – about N$2 million – on exploration in the current quarter.
Marenica is also listed on the Development Capital Board (DevX) of the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX). It closed at 83c per share on Monday.
New vehicle sales in January have historically been low, IJG Securities points out in their analysis of the latest statistics. However, compared to January 2018, new vehicle sales plummeted by 21.7% last month.
A total of 11 721 new vehicles were sold in the 12 months ended January. This is 1 286 or 9.9% less than the corresponding period in 2018.
“2019 is thus off to a sluggish start,” IJG says.
According to the analysts, 12-month cumulative new vehicle sales have been declining since December 2015. Last month’s cumulative figure is a drop of 10 943 or 48.3% compared to the peak of 22 664 cumulative new vehicle sales recorded in April 2015, IJG says.
Passenger vehicle sales have been impacted by amendments to the Credit Act that requires tighter credit conditions, as well as by reduced government expenditure and depressed consumer confidence in the current economic climate, the firm continues.
“The prospects for new vehicle sales remain dim in the short- to medium-term as government remains committed to fiscal consolidation and the economy remains in a recession, putting pressure on demand and investment,” IJG says.
The mid-year budget review tabled in October last year shows government intends spending N$10 million on vehicles in 2019/20, down from an estimated N$11.9 million in the current fiscal year. Revised vehicle spending in 2017/18 was about N$29.4 million, while actual spending the year before was nearly N$92 million. According to the mid-year budget review, government plans to set aside nearly N$12.9 million for vehicles in 2020/21.
A visit to an informal housing upgrading project at Freedom Square in Gobabis, followed by a discussion hosted by Geingos, renewed hope that the government will fast-track innovative solutions to address what President Hage Geingob has described as a humanitarian crisis.
The delegates, including the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN), Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and City of Windhoek officials, met with the president prior to the conference.
A subsequent statement issued by the First Lady said there was “a clear disconnect between what the poor need and what politicians want”.
For example, town-planning guidelines were cited as often unnecessary hurdles that prevent communities and stakeholders from providing affordable housing.
Other barriers included affordability and misunderstanding the needs of communities.
“For the past 13 years instructions on meeting the requirements for individual titles in people-driven development caused stagnation in the access of land for organised communities in the City of Windhoek, which brought housing construction to a standstill,” read a statement by the One Economy Foundation, SDFN and SDI prior to the discussion.
Recently, Martin Mendelsohn of Research and Information Services of Namibia (RASION) said the best way for the government to show serious intent to solve the crisis was to “focus on speeding up the process of land delivery and easing the requirements related to this”.
He said there was a need for a “complete paradigm shift towards creating dense, mixed-use, walkable environments” - elements of urban design that have been ignored.
Jane Weru, executive director of the Akiba Mashinani Trust in Kenya, said unless the problems unique to informal settlements were understood, they could not be solved.
She said community-led research was crucial, and warned that “developmental problems cannot be solved using conventional methods and an alternative developmental model is needed for unique problems”.
Heinrich Amushila, co-director of the Namibia Housing Action Group (NHAG), the funding partner of the SDFN, said the involvement of the Office of the First Lady could help speed up recognition that “programmes, guidelines and standards need to respond to the real situation on the ground and the needs of the people”.
He said ignoring community input could lead to “dreaming up solutions that work for the middle class and end up being no solutions at all because our financial means and capacity cannot reach those dreams”.
Many have accused the City of Windhoek of being a difficult partner when it concerns upgrading informal settlements with partners such as the SDFN.
Amushila said the presence of City of Windhoek officials at the roundtable discussion was a positive step and would hopefully lead to a constructive relationship.
He said their partnership should focus on “a collaborative and less complicated approach”.
Rose Molokoane, chairperson of Shack Dwellers International, emphasised the organisation's ethos “to make poor people partners and not see them as just charity”.
The First Lady's office emphasised the need for removing bottlenecks to implement approaches that have been proven to work.
This was among the outcomes of an urgent meeting held between Swapo councillors from Rundu and Okahandja and the party's top leadership on Monday at the Swapo headquarters in Windhoek.
Allegations of favouritism and dishonesty were levelled at Shaningwa during the meeting chaired by President Hage Geingob.
Toini Hausiku, the wife of Swapo deputy SG Marco Hausiku, who was one of the Rundu councillors recalled last week after defying a directive from Shaningwa, allegedly told the meeting that the SG was conflicted and that her directives were personally motivated and not in the best interest of the party or the masses.
A source said Hausiku at one point referred to Shaningwa as a “liar” and told the gathering that her directive to retain Verna Sinimbo as Rundu mayor was the result of a close alliance between the two.
“Hausiku told everyone, including Geingob, how Shaningwa visits Rundu secretly and meets with Sinimbo, who always accommodates her whether she's on official or private visits,” the source said.
Hausiku allegedly also pointed out that whenever a disagreement would erupt during a council meeting, Sinimbo would remind the gathering how well-connected she is within Swapo.
The source also revealed that Shaningwa opted not to respond to the allegations levelled against her, allegedly saying she does not respond to “nonsense”.
Attempts to get comment from Shaningwa yesterday proved futile.
The source said further that Geingob kept referring to Isack Kandingu as “mayor” during Monday's meeting, which prompted Sinimbo to inform the gathering that she was willing to accept being an ordinary council member.
Groups of Swapo councillors at Rundu and Okahandja have defied Shaningwa's directives.
According to Swapo's Okahandja district coordinator, Martha Mwandingi-Simeon, when they were summoned for an urgent meeting with the party's top leadership they were asked to “clear their chests”.
Shaningwa had issued a directive to Okahandja that the office-bearers structure at the town should be changed, with Johannes 'Congo' Hindjou being demoted from mayor to an ordinary member, while Sophia Upithe would be elected mayor. Shaningwa also wanted Gideon Uwu-Khaeb to be elected as deputy mayor and Hileni Iita as chairperson of the management committee.
At Rundu, Shaningwa instructed that Sinimbo retain her position as mayor and that she be deputised by Ralph Ihemba again.
Both directives were defied by groups of Swapo councillors, even after an earlier politburo meeting had endorsed Shaningwa's directives.
“We just discussed the directive and what exactly the issue was for the Okahandja town council. They were just trying to iron out the issue and to know what was really happening. They wanted to know why exactly the Okahandja town council defied the directive,” Mwandingi-Simeon said yesterday.
She emphasised that Shaningwa had no right to issue a directive.
“We are now waiting for the outcome of the politburo meeting,” she said.
Last Thursday the party recalled three of its Rundu councillors, including newly elected mayor Kandingu, after the trio were elected in defiance of a directive that the town's official structure must remain unchanged.
Kandingu was elected earlier this month and sworn in as the new mayor of Rundu, while Hausiku was elected as deputy mayor and Anastacia Shinduvi and All People's Party (APP) councillor Matheus Wakudumo were elected as the other members of the management committee.
Kandingu, Shinduvi and Hausiku were recalled by Shaningwa, but have since threatened legal action.
At the same time Okahandja also rebelled against Shaningwa's instruction and re-elected Hindjou as mayor, while shunning Upithe, who had rejected her nomination by Frederick Shimanda of the United Democratic Front (UDF), because she believed her fellow Swapo councillors were out of order for nominating Hindjou for the position.
Mwandingi-Simeon said Shaningwa had ignored them when they informed her of the unacceptable behaviour of her proposed candidates.
“We told her about their behaviour that could just kill the town. We informed her [Shaningwa] about everything, but she would not listen. So what can we do? Swapo has its constitution and its procedures and we followed them,” she said.
There is currently confusion in Khorixas, where Swapo councillors were said to have defied an instruction from Shaningwa to retain Elizabeth Geises as mayor.
Geises told NBC that the town's political leadership had been weakened by infighting and power struggles.
According to her these divisions and infighting have now also halted council meetings.
“By now we should have already started with our first meeting. There are lots of things that need to be done… it is not good at all. They are behind with a lot of things,” she said.
KENYA KAMBOWE AND JEMIMA BEUKES
She was stabbed 18 times with a knife.
Helao Gideon Hamuteta, a 22-year-old third-year education student at the University of Namibia's Ongwediva campus, died at the scene.
Magistrate Toini Shilongo said Nghipulenga faced a serious charge and denied him bail. She postponed the matter until 25 March for further police investigations and so that the suspect can apply for legal aid. Prosecutor Mpule Siyamunji represented the State. Nghipulenga was not asked to plead.
The Oshana crime investigations coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Hilja Haipumbu, told Namibian Sun that Hamuteta was alone in her family home at Ongwediva, where the murder was committed.
She said on Sunday evening Hamuteta was arguing with Nghipulenga, who had a knife in his pocket.
“He tried to remove the knife from his pocket to stab Hamuteta, but she overpowered him and removed the knife from him. He ran to the kitchen to get another knife and still she overpowered him. Unfortunately, while they were wrestling the knife she had confiscated fell and Nghipulenga picked it up and (allegedly) stabbed her 18 times,” Haipumbu said.
“At first we thought it was five times, but during the post-mortem it was established that it was 18 times. From there he went to report himself at the Oshiko police roadblock.”
Haipumbu said Nghipulenga told the police that he had stabbed his girlfriend and left her lying on the ground.
He took the police to the scene, where he was arrested.
The about N$9.5 million provision for bad debt is an increase of some N$8.5 million compared to the second quarter of 2017 and is nearly N$7.8 million more than the last quarter of 2017. Compared to other second quarters, this is the highest provision for bad debt since 2013, when the amount was N$6.5 million.
In its latest quarterly report, the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa) attributes the increase in provision for bad debt to a closed medical aid fund which made provision for the contributions receivable of an SOE that had been outstanding since the 2017 financial year. At 30 June 2018, this amount was considered unrecoverable.
This increased Namfisa’s concern about the recoverability of contributions receivable, the watchdog says.
Namfisa started singling out the public enterprises sector as the culprit for arrears in the second quarter of 2017. The watchdog didn’t name the guilty SOEs. The NBC in the middle of last year admitted that it failed to pay over employees’ medical aid contributions to Namibia Medical Care (NMC) after the fund suspended its services to the national broadcaster. At the time, the NBC was N$15 million in arrears.
At the end of June last year, the industry’s contributions receivable amounted to N$30 million. Of this, nearly 58.7% or N$17.6 million was owed by public enterprises. Overall, the industry’s contributions receivable consisted of current contributions of N$16.4 million, while arrear contributions receivable – aged between 30 and 120+ days – stood at N$13.6 million.
Namfisa says public enterprises settled N$2.1 million – or 10.6% of their total contributions receivable – during the quarter under review. This was the result of the watchdog’s “engagement” with the sector.
“The authority remains concerned with public enterprises that are not adhering to their repayment agreements and will continue engaging these public enterprises in order to mitigate the industry’s liquidity risks borne from the non-payment of contributions,” Namfisa says.
Overall, the industry’s arrear contributions during the quarter under review represented 1.3% of total contributions received, an improvement on the 2.5% recorded during the previous quarter. The industry benchmark is 1.5%.
However, Namfisa points out that the decrease in contributions receivable was “influenced by private entities that paid more than they owed to the industry”.
The medical aid industry recorded a loss ratio of 100.7% during the second quarter of 2018, meaning that the industry’s net income of about N$982.4 million in contributions was not enough to cover total expenditure – claims of some N$921.4 million plus other expenses of nearly N$101.1 million.
This left the industry with an operational deficit of about N$40 million. Net investment income of just below N$40 million helped secure a net surplus of around N$1.8 million for the quarter under review.
The industry’s cash coverage ratio also took a knock during the quarter, dropping from 0.8 in the first quarter to 0.6. This indicates that the industry had cash and cash equivalents to settle less than a month’s claims.
This is not considered a risk as the industry can replenish cash from monthly contributions collected, Namfisa says. It further points out that nearly 74% of the industry’s investments were held in “highly liquid instruments”. This about N$800 million would enable the industry to access cash from liquidating investments timely and without detrimental cost, Namfisa says.
Although the industry’s solvency ratio – its total assets to total liabilities – decreased from 4.5% in the first quarter to 4.4% the next one, Namfisa says the industry’s total assets of more than N$1.8 billion still amounted to more than four times its total liabilities. As such, the industry was liquid and solvent at the end of the second quarter of 2018, the authority says.
Namfisa requires medical aid funds to maintain a minimum prudential reserves level or solvency margin of 25% of gross contributions. This is determined by dividing accumulated funds by the annualised gross contributions received.
At 30 June 2018, two of the ten medical aid funds under Namfisa’s supervision didn’t meet this requirement. These two open medical aid funds represent about 13 670 beneficiaries, the watchdog says.
“The authority continues to monitor the two open funds closely to ensure that remedial measures are taken to improve their reserve levels; and that their solvency risk is minimised as much as possible,” Namfisa says.
Overall, the industry’s accumulated reserves increased by 0.9% to N$1.4 billion at the end of the second quarter of 2018. Its reserves levels rose by 0.4% to 34.7%.
Namfisa uses five stages to measure the financial wellbeing of medical aid funds – Stage 1 indicating “no significant problems”. This category, the highest on Namfisa’s supervisory ladder, means that funds submit returns and annual financial statements, as well as pay levies.
At the end of June 2018, none of the ten medical aid funds in the country got a clean bill of health. At the end of 2017, two funds enjoyed Stage-1 status, while four funds fell in this category at the end of the March 2017.
Funds in Stage 2 grew from two in the first quarter of 2017 to four at the end of 2017, and six at the end of March and June 2018. Stage 2 is referred to as the “early warning” stage where the submission of returns are staggered and the resultant levies not paid.
Two funds fell in the Stage 5-category, meaning they are not viable or insolvency is imminent.
The hearing has now divided public opinion with some showing the athlete sympathy, while others say she should just do as the IAAF says.
The IAAF has proposed eligibility rules for athletes with hyperandrogenism, a medical condition in which women may have excessive levels of male hormones such as testosterone.
The new regulations will force them to lower their testosterone levels to a prescribed amount, if they wish to continue competing, in order to promote 'fair competition'.
Semenya, however, wants to overturn these rules in an appeal case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) president Abner Xoagub sided with IAAF's request, saying it is only trying to push for fair play.
“Semenya has an advantage over other athletes. She has more testosterone. The World Anti-Doping organisation demands that we always test our athletes. If they are caught doping or if we see that one has a high level of testosterone we are instructed to disqualify the athlete from competitions.
“Now we find an athlete like Semenya who naturally has high testosterone levels, but we allow her to compete, what message does that send to the rest? Then we might as well allow those doping to continue to do so then,” Xoagub argued.
“The IAAF is not banning the athlete or trying to end her career, but is engaging with her so that she can compete on the same level as the rest because she has an advantage. These athletes also train hard. If Semenya is fit, bringing her testosterone down will not stop her from winning.”
Xoagub said further that there is no alternative route for the IAAF and if there was, they would have used it, so Semenya should agree to the terms and promote fair competition.
Erwin Naimhwaka, president of Athletics Namibia, said they are following the case and support all the athletics and family groups involved in the case.
“The case deals with fundamental issues of the sanctity of competition in athletics and human rights. The experts on the teams will highlight those issues and the arbitrators will make their ruling based on that. We await the ruling, which we are expect to adhere to, whatever the outcome, whether it results in change or the upholding of the proposed regulation,” said Naimhwaka.
South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa has backed the athlete.
“Mokgadi. Champion. Beacon of hope. My daughter, this is only to remind you of your greatness; because you constantly remind us that nothing beats the enduring power of the human spirit. You may run alone on the track, but know now that you run with 57 million and more,” he tweeted.
Semenya is not the only athlete potentially affected by this.
Silver and bronze medallists in the Rio 800m women's race, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Kenya's Margaret Wambui, have also faced questions about their testosterone levels.
But it is Semenya, who is at her peak with three world titles to her name, who has brought the court challenge.
Tennis icon Billie Jean King has joined the wave of support for the double 800m Olympic champion.
King took to Twitter to defend and back Semenya, writing: “My friend Caster Semenya is unequivocally female. Forcing women with naturally high testosterone to give up ownership of their bodies and take drugs to compete in sport is barbaric, dangerous, and discriminatory. I stand behind her and hope she prevails.”
Last year in October, Semenya received the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award from the Women's Sports Foundation and King in New York.
Nauseb was appointed as the coach of the coastal side just months after he was cruelly sacked by African Stars less than five matches into his tenure.
There is a feeling in local football circles that the coach will be out to prove that African Stars were wrong to sack him.
Nauseb, however, reiterated that he holds no grudges and will focus on his new job going forward.
“I am happy to have joined this wonderful club and my job is to ensure that they play good football and collect results.
“Many might say I would want to prove African Stars wrong for letting me go, but that is not the case because I have moved on.
“My priority now is to help this team remain in the league and finish among the top five,” Nauseb said.
He maintained that his philosophy as coach will remain the same.
Nauseb who began his first training session with the club on Tuesday hopes to get his message across to the players very quickly.
He admitted that it could prove a difficult task to apply his tactics and philosophy in two days, ahead of the start of the Standard Bank Top 8 Cup.
“I just met the players on Tuesday for the first time and I already have a match in the Top 8 Cup. The team will nevertheless be ready to put up a great performance on Saturday.”
Eleven Arrows will travel all the way from Walvis Bay to battle NPL pacesetters Black Africa at the Sam Nujoma Stadium on Saturday in the inaugural edition of the tournament.
Eleven Arrows are currently tenth place on the NPL log, having won three matches. They have also endured four draws and five loses during their 12 matches so far this season.
Arrows are 19 points adrift of log leaders Black Africa.
Nauseb's team will be well aware that they are in reach of the bottom two clubs.
“This season is very interesting because winning two matches in a row can take you into the top half of the table, while losing two can drag you right into the relegation zone. That is why I strongly believe there is plenty to play for and that the season is wide open for me as a coach to do my job well.”
Nauseb joined Kaizer Chiefs from Civics in 1997 and played for the Glamour Boys until 2001.
During his time at Kaizer Chiefs, Nauseb made 87 appearances, scoring nine goals.
He then had a short spell with Cape Town club, Hellenic, during the 2001/02 season, before joining Ajax Cape Town for the 2002/03 season.
The former midfielder also had a stint at Santos and Ikapa Sporting.
He represented the national team for 16 years, making 27 appearances and scoring two goals, before hanging up his boots.
“The gap is not that big and we are still hopeful.
The camp was tense a few weeks ago, but it is more relaxed now,” said the Maritzburg United goalkeeper coach.
Kanalelo resigned from Unam last year to resume his coaching career in the PSL with the KwaZulu-Natal outfit. He has a contract that runs until May 2019.
He still had a year to go at Unam, but returned to Maritzburg for a third spell, with his previous stint ending in 2013, when he accepted the Brave Warriors first assistant coach post, which he still retains.
However, Maritzburg have been experiencing little luck in the PSL and currently occupy the bottom spot on the log with 14 points.
Free State Stars (16) and Baroka (18) also form part of the bottom three. Bidvest Wits, where Namibian player Deon Hotto plies his trade, sit comfortably at the top with 37 points. Maritzburg is set to play Cape Town City on Saturday.
The match will start at 20:00.
The cup competition will see the top eight Namibia Premier League (NPL) clubs from the 2017/18 season competing for top honours.
African Stars, Black Africa (BA), Mighty Gunners, Unam, Tigers, Tura Magic, Orlando Pirates and Eleven Arrows are in the mix to claim the laurels.
Unam, coached by Woody Jacobs, will face Tigers, mentored by Peter 'Oubaas' Mokwena, who will be hoping to inspire his charges, so they can dismantle the Clever Boys.
Gunners will face Magic tomorrow at the Sam Nujoma Stadium at 20:00,
On Saturday BA will take on Arrows at 17:00. On the same day, Stars will lock horns with Pirates at 20:00.
Each club received N$50 000 for preparations, while the semi-finalists will receive N$20 000 to prepare for their two-leg clashes.
The draw for the last four will be conducted on 6 March and the final two sides in the cup competition will receive N$15 000 to prepare for the grand finale.
The eventual champions will walk away with N$500 000, while the runners-up will receive N$250 000. Each losing semi-finalist is set to receive N$125 000.
The man of the match winners in the quarterfinals will receive
N$2 000 each, with this prize to increase by N$500 for the semi-finals. Another N$500 will be added for the final, in which the man of the match will earn N$3 000.
The best player, top scorer and best coach of the tournament will receive N$15 000 each.
The best goalkeeper will receive N$10 000, which will also be the prize money for the best referee, while the best assistant referee will get N$5 000.
Tickets are selling for N$30 each in advance at Webtickets and Pick n Pay outlets countrywide.
Fans will pay N$50 at the gate.