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Corruption - A social disease (Part 169): Namibia at the cross roads

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Corruption - A social disease (Part 169): Namibia at the cross roadsCorruption - A social disease (Part 169): Namibia at the cross roads Johan Coetzee

Given ongoing media articles about governance, manifested in contraction of investment and increasing unemployment, it is appropriate to reflect on several trends covering several decades.

Trend analysis can enable the reader to perceive long-term developments and events from a more balanced perspective compared to short term studies that focus on the here and now, e.g. the interest rate and/or incidents of corruption at a given time. A longer-term perspective, especially if related trends can be analysed simultaneously, can provide some general direction when reflecting on the sustainability of decision making.

THE BASICS

Governance is at its most basic about accountability (the buck stops with whom?), transparency (information about decisions shared to minimise abuse of power) and sustainability (to withstand the long-term test of wisdom).

It should be made clear that the word ‘governance’ includes decisions by government, business and individuals. Several questions can be relevant.

• What decisions have been made?

• How were these decisions (processes and due diligence) made?

• Who made these decisions?

• What checks and balances were put in place to enable implementation?

• How were the implementation of these decisions monitored?

• Why were some decisions not implemented?

• What can be done to enable increased implementation of decisions?

The focus of this and articles to follow will be on decisions (governance) in terms of the following trends: (dis)investment; corruption and deterioration of public service delivery; increasing unemployment; and increasing state control and state intervention.

Given Namibia’s dire need for economic growth and development, as probably any equity trader will verify, decisions that the Government has made have contributed to an outflow of money and deteriorated Namibia’s ability to attract investment.

(DIS)INVESTMENT

A Namibian dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow, because of the time value of money and the risk attached to what will happen with such a dollar tomorrow. To attract a dollar today for growing the economy, Namibia needs investment.

The reaction to the increasingly investor-unfriendly policy environment, especially since 2014, that has also seen Government increase its direct control of the economy, is evident.

Gross fixed capital formation, which is a leading indicator of economic growth and development, is at an all-time low as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This shows that investment, whether local or foreign, in productive, fixed capital has reduced notably.

Investors simply do not feel safe to commit and would rather wait out the uncertainty or deploy their capital elsewhere (Bartsch, Coetzee, Smith & De Klerk, 2020).

Graphical data supports this contention. The outflow of capital is evident, especially since 2014/15 when the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) was formulated.

In similar fashion, net direct investment has begun to dry up as well.

Traditionally, Namibia has enjoyed relatively large inflows of foreign direct investment. However, this has also changed. The gap between GDP and net direct investment is decreasing, especially since 2016/2017.

With the introduction of anti-business and investor policy, local capital has slowly started to leave the country, and very limited foreign capital has entered. Namibia has avoided dramatic capital flight, however much capital is waiting on the side lines to see what happens with policy. For example, the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Bill (NEEEB) that is currently under review (again) and open for input - however, quite unknown by the public.

Given a globalised world, NEEEB in its current form presents a major risk to Namibia. Unsustainable policy, such as this proposed law, can cause much more capital to leave compared to the outflow, potentially resulting in more aggressive capital controls, (Bartsch, Coetzee, Smith & De Klerk).

Should this happen – money will simply not come into Namibia if it cannot leave again, which could lead to a situation similar to what happened in Zimbabwe and Venezuela recently.

*The rest of this article will be published in subsequent editions of Market Watch.

References:

Bartsch, A., Coetzee, J.J., Smith, J. & De Klerk, E. (2020). Economic Policy Research Association: Analysis of the Latest Version of the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Bill, Windhoek.

jcoetzee@nust.na

Sioka in hot water over jailed children

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Sioka in hot water over jailed children Sioka in hot water over jailed children JANA-MARI SMITH



WINDHOEK

The clock is ticking for child welfare minister Doreen Sioka who has less than a month to present a detailed action plan to establish child-friendly jails after the Office of the Ombudsman last year discovered at least 30 minors imprisoned alongside adult inmates around the country.

The urgent application brought to court in October 2020 accused Sioka of failing her duty to implement chapter five of the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA), which requires the ministry to ensure the establishment of child-friendly detention centres.

Advocate and Ombudsman John Walters’ founding affidavit pointed out that the CCPA expressly and tacitly outlaws the imprisonment of anyone aged 18 or younger in adult jails and prisons.

“This means that any detention of children at police holding cells is not only undesirable, but also unlawful.”

“Her failure to carry out her statutory duty is unlawful,” he added.

Walters underlined that it is the responsibility of the gender ministry to appoint or establish designated detention centres for children and the failure to do so is a violation of those children’s fundamental and constitutional rights and freedoms.

Moreover, he pointed out the ministry had failed to approve appropriate places of safety in lieu of its failure to establish them.

“This is even though the CCPA was promulgated five years ago and has been in operation for almost two years.”

Christmas gift

Just before Christmas, High Court judge Nate Ndauendapo ordered Sioka and her team to provide the court with an action plan detailing the steps they will take to finally implement her mandate.

Moreover, the police were instructed to ensure that jailed children are separated from adult inmates.

The police informed the Ombudsman in December that 34 male children were held in adult jails across the country as per their November records.

At that time, their ages ranged from 14 to 17.

Walters said “it is doubtful that any of them [imprisoned children] have been informed of their rights not to be detained in police holding cells”.

He cautioned that children in adult jails are subject to “harsh circumstances which can only have adverse effects on their development”.

Among the offences that landed the children behind bars are accusations of rape, murder, robbery, damage to property, assault, stock theft, arson and escape from custody.

One 16-year-old was in jail in Rundu for “violation of community services”.

A letter dated 21 December 2020 by the gender ministry stated that four minors were behind bars at that time and three had been transferred to Okatope holding cells in Onyaana. Two were 17-year-olds and one a 16-year-old. A 17-year-old was being held in Omaruru.

Constraints

Last December, Sioka informed the court that the implementation of the act concerning imprisoned juveniles is difficult due to financial and human resource constraints.

“The ministry is forced to prioritise key provisions in an environment where financial and human resources are limited.”

As an example, Sioka said the ministry only has 79 social workers to attend to a population of more than one million citizens, which is a ratio of one social worker per 13 000 children under 18.

She said the ministry manages to “soldier on” and has prioritised the implementation of several parts of the child protection act despite these hurdles.

Among these efforts, she claimed the ministry has allocated a farm where it “envisions to set up a facility that will serve as a child detention centre”.

She also said children and teenagers are sent to adult prisons on the order of magistrates “because there are no detention centres established yet”.

Sioka further excused the ministry's failure to respond to urgent letters from the Ombudsman, blaming their “high workload and overstretched staff members”.

The ministry did not to respond to a request on the matter by the time of going to print.

‘Not up to you’

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‘Not up to you’‘Not up to you’Kandjii orders Unam to admit grade 11s The higher education minister has told state-owned universities to admit grade 11 learners, who are being rejected left, right and centre. TUYEIMO HAIDULA







ONGWEDIVA

Higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi says institutions of higher learning should embrace grade 11 school-leavers and not act as if the public institutions are their private property.

The minister was speaking to Namibian Sun on Monday during a visit to see how northern campuses have been coping with Covid-19.

She said state-owned universities and vocational training centres have no choice but to absorb grade 11 learners, as agreed at the 2011 education conference.

If the grade 11 learners are not admitted into higher learning institutions and are not allowed to repeat the grade, they will end up on the street, she said.

“No public institution can sit on the fence. Not this time. We need all hands on deck. We need to perfect this system.

“My plea is that we embrace the grade 11s and be active participants in monitoring, evaluating and assessing the impacts of these reforms and advise government accordingly,” Kandjii-Murangi said.

Find ways

The minister rubbished claims that institutions were not consulted about the new system, saying nothing happens with regard to education reform without involving all stakeholders.

Kandjii-Murangi said it was unfortunate that those who were part of the negotiation process now pretend they had not been consulted.

"We only have one education system. There is no way any major reform like the one the basic education ministry is undertaking will have happened without the involvement of all the upper levels,” she said.

“Some of those at the Namibia University of Science and Technology or the University of Namibia might not have been holding those positions [at the time], but as responsible institutions, decisions that are taken by our predecessors we need to honour.

“I am heading this ministry, it’s not my ministry. I was appointed to make sure I meet the needs of the Namibian people in the sector of higher education. I cannot come and change things that are put in place. So, they have to find ways to accommodate these learners,” she said.

No space

Unam vice-chancellor Kenneth Matengu recently stated the university’s position on admission of grade 11 learners.

He said grade 11 is ranked as a level three qualification, while Unam’s entry requirement is level five.

The university only has space for 5 000 to 7 000 new students and received over 21 000 applications for this academic year, he said. Efforts to get hold of Matengu this week proved futile.

– tuyeimo@namibiansun.com

Catering company throws sand in food tender

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Catering company throws sand in food tenderCatering company throws sand in food tender JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

Seal Caterers has dragged the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN), the education ministry and 97 other companies to court over a food tender, demanding that they reconsider all bids afresh.

These companies include Flamingo Inflight Services, Windhoek Palm Hotel, Die Mamas Kitchen CC and Atlantic Catering Solutions.

However, Seal Caterers is not the only company opposing the award of the tender, with several others having in the meantime submitted their grievances. According to CPBN chairperson Patrick Swartz, the matter is enjoying the attention of the review panel and the board is in the process of filing replying affidavits.

“The review panel will set a date for the hearing and we will appear before it. The date will probably be set once they have collated the information from all companies,” he said.

Unfair treatment

Seal Caterers managing director Dirk van Schalkwyk said their disqualification is unfair and had they been chosen, government would have saved between N$8.3 and N$14 million per year.

This, he said, comes to a massive saving of about N$42 million for the duration of the tender period.

He also said if the properly priced tender amounts were accepted, government would have saved N$177 million.

In his founding affidavit, Van Shalkwyk demands that the CPBN review and set aside its decision to disqualify its tender bid for the procurement of food to government schools.

He also demands that the CPBN overturn its decision to award the tender to nine companies, claiming there were serious shortcomings in their bids.

Van Schalkwyk further accused the CPBN of adapting all the bids of the successful bidders after the closing date.

According to him, some of the prices offered by some of these bidders were substantially increased by the board.

Leniency for some

According to Van Schalkwyk, documents suggest that some of the successful bidders were evaluated with substantial leniency.

He said Tuthikameni Pamwe Investments CC, awarded the tender to provide food in the Erongo and Kunene regions, only provided global prices, contrary to the requirements of the bidding process.

On the other hand, STS Mega Investment CC and Igloo Investments CC were disqualified for the same mistake.

Van Schalkwyk also pointed out that Johannes Neputa, who submitted an individual bid for Om’kwana Caterer CC, is listed as the accounting officer of three other companies which bid for the process.

According to him, the fact that all four these companies were successful in their bidding indicates that something is amiss.

“His multiple roles are also contrary to the strict prohibition of conflict of interest contained in the instructions to the bidders,” Van Schalkwyk said.

jemima@namibiansun.com

Mining survey: Chamber hits back

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Mining survey: Chamber hits backMining survey: Chamber hits back PHILLEPUS UUSIKU



Too few responses have skewed Namibia's performance on the 2020 Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies, tarnishing its image as an attractive investment destination.

The survey only asked between five and nine responses from Namibia, which is not representative of the whole mining industry, the Chamber of Mines in Namibia said in a statement.

Fraser's report, released last week, showed that Namibia only marginally increased its score on the overall Investment Attractiveness Index (IAI) and that several other jurisdictions performed far better.

The drastic decline on the Policy Perception Index (PPI) by 12.92 points led to Namibia's poor performance on the Investment Attractiveness Index. Namibia was the only African jurisdiction that did not improve on this particular index.

Namibia thus dropped 33 places globally on its PPI score, and fell from first place in 2019 to fifth position in 2020 on the African continent.

“This is most concerning given that investors regard other jurisdictions as having more stable and favourable policy frameworks in comparison to Namibia,” the chief executive officer of the chamber, Veston Malango said.

CHALLENGES

According to Malango, investors expressed concerns over the availability of skills, regulatory duplication and inconsistencies, as well as infrastructure. Challenges with value added tax (VAT) registrations and input VAT refunds for exploration companies were also cited as hurting Namibia's competitiveness.

“These issues dampened the major positive outcome with government's pronouncement during 2020 on the complete withdrawal of the non-deductibility tax proposal from the Income Tax Amendment Bill of 2018,” Malango said.

He pointed out that the survey solicited only between five and nine responses from Namibia.

“Had a higher number of responses been received, the chamber holds the view that Namibia would have received higher scores on the overall Investment Attractiveness Index and the Policy Perception Index as a result of revoking the non-deductibility tax proposal,” he added.

The chamber remains committed to working with government to ensure all outstanding policy obstacles are resolved, and that Namibia once again become the most attractive investment destination in Africa, a feat that was achieved in the 2014 Fraser Report, Malango said.

Otjikoto sitting on a gold mine

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Otjikoto sitting on a gold mineOtjikoto sitting on a gold mineWolfshag to drive record production B2Gold in 2020 pumped nearly N$1 billion into the development of the Otjikoto mine. Jo-Maré Duddy – B2Gold’s Otjikoto mine is expected to reach record-level production this year and through to 2024, the Canada-based low-cost international senior gold producer said on the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX).

The mine, about 300 km north of Windhoek, will produce between 190 000 and 200 000 ounces of gold in 2021, about 16% more than last year. This falls in the range of Otjikoto’s annual production record of 191 534 ounces achieved in 2017, B2Gold said in its latest full-year annual results.

B2Gold, which is also listed on the Overall Index of the NSX, owns 90% of Otjikoto through its subsidiary, B2Gold Namibia (Pty) Ltd. The local empowerment company, EVI Mining, owns the rest.

B2Gold attributed the expected increased production in 2021 to high-grade ore which is scheduled to be sourced from Phase 3 of the Wolfshag Pit in the second half of this year.

Commenting on higher expected production through to 2024, B2Gold said: “Production from Wolfshag underground is expected to commence in early 2022 and will supplement ore from the Otjikoto pit, as well as existing medium and low-grade stockpiles for approximately three years based on current estimates.”

B2Gold’s capital expenditure at Otjikoto last year totalled US$67 million, or nearly N$1 billion.

The group’s exploration budget for 2021 is about US$66 million. “Exploration will focus predominantly in Mali, other operating mine sites in Namibia and the Philippines and grassroots exploration programmes around the world,” B2Gold said.

ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION

The Bank of Namibia’s (BoN) economic growth forecasts reflect B2Gold’s projections. In its latest Economic Outlook, released last week, the central bank forecast growth of 0.1% for metal ores this year, followed by 3.7% in 2022.

Metal ores are projected to have grown by -12.4% last year, followed by a contraction of 0.1% in 2019, based on 2015 constant prices. In 2018, the subsector grew by 0.8%. In 2017 and 2018, it grew by -26.3% and -34.3% respectively.

At current prices, the BoN expects metal ores to contribute nearly N$5.4 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021, followed by about N$5.84 bilion next year.

“Growth in metal ores is to be supported by higher output from the gold subsector, which is expected to offset lost production in zinc and copper subsectors,” the BoN said.

Gold carries the biggest weight in metal ores.

Besides B2Gold, the Navachab mine near Karibib also produces gold. QKR Namibia Mineral Holdings, a subsidiary of UK-based QKR Corp Limited, owns 92.5% of Navachab, while JG Investments owns the rest. JG Investments is a subsidiary of Epangelo Mining Company, owned by the Namibian government.

Letshego Nam takes N$60-mln profit hit

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Letshego Nam takes N$60-mln profit hitLetshego Nam takes N$60-mln profit hit Jo-Maré Duddy – Locally-listed Letshego Holdings Namibia reported a profit of about N$341.4 million for the year ended 31 December 2020, a drop of nearly N$59.8 million or 14.9% compared to its previous book-year.
Letshego Nam, whose unaudited annual results were released on the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) this morning, made an operating profit before taxation of nearly N$435.5 million, down N$88.7 million or 16.9% from 2019.
The group’s headline earnings per share (HEPS) – a profitability gauge - fell by 12c or nearly 15% to 68c.
“Although the local economic conditions and coronavirus (Covid-19) have affected market confidence and consumer spending patterns, the group remains well placed to grow revenues through ongoing innovation and pursuit of its inclusive finance strategy,” Letshego Nam said.
The directors have evaluated the financial impact of Covid-19 on the group and cannot identify a going concern risk within the medium term, it added.
Letshego Nam said a notice pertaining to dividends will be made at the time of the released of the audited financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2020.
Letshego Nam is listed on the Local Index of the NSX. It ended yesterday at N$2.20 per share. The share price has fallen by nearly 17.3% since the end of last year.
Read the full report tomorrow in Market Watch.

FirstRand Nam’s profit dives 9.4%

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FirstRand Nam’s profit dives 9.4%FirstRand Nam’s profit dives 9.4% Jo-Maré Duddy – Locally-listed FirstRand Namibia reported a profit of about N$564.9 million for the six months ended 31 December 2020, a drop of some N$58.8 million from the same half-year in 2019.
The group’s interim results, released on the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) this morning, show an operating profit of nearly N$818.5 million, down nearly N$90 million or 9.9% from the same period in 2019.
Headline earnings per share (HEPS) – a profitability gauge – of 212.8c were reported. Compared to the same half-year in 2019, this is 23.3c or 9.9% lower.
FirstRand Namibia declared an interim cash dividend of 94c per share, 10c per share or 9.6% down from the comparable dividend in 2019.
“The economic impact of Covid-19 continued to place acute pressure on the group’s performance for the six months ended December 2020. Trends post lockdown are improving as the economic recovery slowly emerges, however, activity levels remained muted,” the group said.
FirstRand Namibia is listed on the Local Index of the NSX. It closed yesterday at N$23.07 per share. The share price has gained 0.13% since the end of last year.
Read the full report tomorrow in Market Watch.

Scam: Covid-19 support grant circulating on WhatsApp

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Scam: Covid-19 support grant circulating on WhatsAppScam: Covid-19 support grant circulating on WhatsApp Jo-Maré Duddy – The ministry of finance has warned the public against a message circulating on WhatsApp inviting people to apply for “Covid-19 Support Grant”, of which first time applicants would apparently receive payments within 24 hours after approval.
“This so-called Grant Fund which is purported to be legitimate, has no connection at all with the ministry of finance in Namibia,” the chief public relations officer of the ministry, Tonateni Shidhudhu.
According to him, the has become “a target of hoax, phishing scams and other fraudulent requests that are published on the internet or circulated on the social media and other channels of communication”.
“We would like to caution the public to be vigilant and not fall victims to these fraudulent requests,” Shidhudhu said in a statement.
Last year the ministry provided the Emergency Income Grant of N$750 to Namibians who lost incomes due to Covid-19.
“The grant was a once off payment which ended in September 2020. In addition, various facilities were introduced to support business development in general as well as those affected by Covid-19 through the Development Bank of Namibia and commercial banks,” he said.
Shidhudhu concluded: “We urge members of the public to evaluate and verify any suspicious requests and avoid providing their personal details as it might result in identity theft.”

Capricorn overtakes NamBrew, FirstRand Nam on NSX

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Capricorn overtakes NamBrew, FirstRand Nam on NSXCapricorn overtakes NamBrew, FirstRand Nam on NSX Jo-Maré Duddy – Capricorn Group kept its ground today as the biggest company on the Local Index of the Namibia Stock Exchange (NSX) following a spike in its share price on Wednesday.
The share price of Capricorn, with Bank Windhoek as its most prominent brand, on Wednesday jumped by N$2.68 a piece or 26.5% to N$12.80. This pushed up the group’s market capitalisation by total shares in issue to N$6.646 billion, up N$1.392 billion from Tuesday and the biggest on the Local Index.
Namibia Breweries, with a total market capitalisation of N$6.404 billion, moved into second place.
A total of 147 369 Capricorn shares were traded in 14 deals on Wednesday, totalling nearly N$1.77 million. The share’s low for the day was N$10.99 and its peak N$12.80, also its closing price.
FirstRand Namibia, with FNB Namibia as its flagship, on Wednesday closed at N$23.07 a share, one cent or 0.04% lower than Tuesday. The group’s market capitalisation by total shares in issue was N$6.173 billion.
According to the NSX daily report, the closing prices of Capricorn, NamBrew and FirstRand Namibia remained unchanged today.

Wearing two hats at the office

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Wearing two hats at the office Wearing two hats at the office Elizabeth Nakatana is an industrial health and safety officer at TransNamib Holdings Limited. Maintaining a safe and conducive environment at work Michelline Nawatises





Elizabeth Nakatana was born forty-plus years ago in Windhoek, being the youngest of a family of three siblings. She grew up in the dusty streets of Donkerhoek’s Ovambo Location in Katutura. She attended Mandume Primary School and senior primary school at Namutoni and finally secondary school at Immanuel Shifidi High School. To keep herself busy after school, she enrolled for a Certificate in Commerce course at Unam and afterwards, she joined TransNamib Holdings Limited in 1998.

It was in the same year that she decided to pursue her studies further and enrolled for a National Diploma in Commerce at the Polytechnic of Namibia, now the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). She completed a Bachelor of Commerce in Law degree in 2020.

Nakatana wears two hats in her office, as an industrial health and safety officer and as the principal officer of the TransNamib Retirement Fund. As a health and safety officer, she is responsible for identifying, implementing, monitoring and enforcing the application of health, safety, environment, loss control and logistical systems and procedures in the company, to ensure a healthy and safe working environment.

One of her main duties is to ensure that the company complies with occupational health and safety guidelines as set out in the Labour Act 2007.

“As the principal officer of the Retirement Fund, I have specific statutory and compliance responsibilities and is accountable to the Board of Trustees. In a nutshell, I am mostly responsible for the administrative functions of the fund,” she says.

She says the biggest challenge as a safety officer is to promote a safety culture, especially when there is resistance to change.

“Overcoming this mentality of workers is my biggest daily challenge, another challenge is the lack of resources to execute the functions properly and, with the ugly bug called Covid-19, the situation simply became difficult to handle at times,” she says.

“With continued employee safety education, I must say, there have been accomplishments. The injury frequency rate has been reduced from 40 lost-time injuries annually to just less than 10 lost-time injuries, but the main goal is to have zero injury rate.”

A typical day consists of a briefing meeting with the health and safety manager, checking e-mail from the control clerk detailing the irregularities reported in the past 24 hours, updating the accident/incident reporting tool, dealing with complaints from employees, conducting routine safety inspections, compiling reports and putting together health and safety programmes.

Nakatana has found herself on a career path that she did not study for. While she was studying towards a National Diploma in Commerce, she found herself in the health, safety and loss control section as a secretary to the manager.

While she was compiling the section’s monthly reports, she started developing a keen interest in what the safety officers were doing. “I would, for example, read their monthly reports, so I told myself that if this is all that they do, then I can surely do it too,” she says.

It so happens that one of the safety officers resigned, and she approached her manager to allow her to act in the vacant position as she felt that she was not using her full potential being a secretary.

Nakatana would like to venture into the pension fund industry, having adequate experience on how the industry operates. “As a principal officer of our pension fund, I have developed some interest and would like to explore this unique industry,” she says.

Empowering futuristic knowledge workers

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Empowering futuristic knowledge workersEmpowering futuristic knowledge workers Chaze Nalisa

Over 50 years ago, long before majority of today's workforce was born, the social scientist and father of modern management, Peter Drucker, said that a time would come when the ability to think and adapt would become more valuable than physical labour. He stated that information would change the way people work.

We have been in that "time" for over two decades now, but it is evident today that in order for organisations to sustainably compete, the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn is key. This is an era where employees are sought after for their ability to think, solve problems, create, and innovate. Experts with the most emergent, agile and adaptive thinking ability are sought after as they are better aligned to the dynamics of the environment.

Today's business avenues demand more strategic improvisation and discretion in uncertainty. Employees are expected to be more and more autonomous. Knowledge workers are subject matter experts, whose main resource is information. Their work is non-routine and requires ample strategic thinking towards problem solving. They are called to be specialists in their respective capacities, ideally even knowing more than their managers.

Leveraging knowledge workers for the future

Knowledge workers perform best when empowered and trusted to make the most of their experience, skills and abilities. Trust them by tasking them with continual organisational enhancement. Knowledge workers are game changers. They have immediate and future impact. Their ideas, experiences, interpretations and judgments contribute to the evolvement of the entire business ecosystem.

The right work environment enables knowledge workers to facilitate the flow of knowledge, in turn, contributing to the establishment and maintenance of a learning organisation. Peter Senge said, “a learning organisation is one where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.”

As earlier stated, the concept of knowledge workers is not new, but some organisations are still not fully leveraging their people’s capabilities towards the inevitable evolution of skills.

Many organisations are now endorsing broad learning and multidisciplinary skills as an approach to ensure their people’s knowledge remains relevant, is retained and that the organisation is able to adapt through learning. What is being referred to as conventional learning in today’s economy is certainly not what it used to be 10 years ago. In order to leverage knowledge workers, learning approaches must be in real time, practical, fit for the modern workplace and flexible, thus matching the demands of the tech-driven ecosystem. Today’s knowledge workers are able to use technology prudently and intelligently, in addition to their existing knowledge and experience. Therefore, the learning approaches to consider include the application of augmented reality, mobile devices and collaborative learning platforms.

Knowledge is an asset for achieving competitive edge.

“The great challenge to management today is to make productive the tremendous new resource, the knowledge worker. This, rather than the productivity of the manual worker, is the key to economic growth and economic performance in today’s society,” Peter Drucker said.

The opportunity presents itself to human resources and knowledge management professionals to facilitate, among other things, a culture of knowledge creation and sharing, towards organisational learning. Doing so with the future needs of knowledge workers in mind.

Windhoek Hospitality Culinary College holds an open day

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Windhoek Hospitality Culinary College holds an open dayWindhoek Hospitality Culinary College holds an open day WHCC, in partnership with BHMS, offers an international education that combines academic studies with professional development and real-life work experience. This in itself will help students gain a solid foundation to achieve their individual goals. Desiree Gases



Last week WHCC held an open day at the corner on Independence Avenue and Mburumba Street in Windhoek for anyone interested in pursuing a cooking career.

The open day started at 09:00 and ended at 13:00. The attendees were taken to the boardroom where there were introductions to the school as well as talks about roles and assistance to students. The attendees were also shown pre-recorded videos of current student testimonials, and met the WHCC administration team.

Afterwards there was a campus tour where attendees walked through classrooms, the library, student computer centre, courtyard and admin offices. There were speeches from industry leaders such as Jovon, the executive chef at Isabel’s Table; Amos, the general manager of Windhoek Hilton; and Quinton Byloo, the operations manager for UAG.

After a short break, attendees were taken to the kitchen for a cooking demonstration by chef Urs Gamma, where they were given quick and easy tips around the kitchen. Attendees were invited to assist with the cooking.

WHCC is special because of its live learning environment, where students get the chance to not only learn what the industry is all about, but also apply the knowledge in a real-life setting. The school is integrated with the Thuringerhof Hotel and students use their theory and skills to build their experience, confidence and understanding of the dynamics of the industry.

WHCC aspires to equip students with transferable skills that they can apply in their everyday life, socially, professionally, and of course in school. They teach them the importance of teamwork, leadership, personal motivation, organisation, time management and communication.

Both WHCC diploma programmes are 18 months long, which includes an internship and an in-house rotation where they spend time working in the industry. WHCC short courses are ten weeks long.

WHCC programmes

Short courses

· Food and beverage service techniques

· Bar operations and barista service

· Front-office operations and reservation systems

· Housekeeping and laundry operations

· Wine appreciation

· Cost control techniques and restaurant revenue management

· Event management

· Service quality management



Certificates/ Diplomas (Validated and awarded by B.H.M.S. Switzerland)

· Diploma in Hospitality Management

· Certificate in Hospitality Operations

· Diploma in Culinary Arts (commencing 2021)

Your career

· Internship opportunities with international brands such as Hilton and Protea by Marriot.

· Career management

Intake registration deadline: 9 March 2021 for March classes. However, applications for July and September are still open.

COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

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COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEFCOMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF Kenya's Equity Group launches loan facility

Kenya's Equity Group Holdings said on Wednesday it had launched a lending facility worth 75 billion Kenyan shillings (US$685 million) to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) recover from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"For the SMEs that have been out of business for a year, working capital has been depleted," CEO James Mwangi said at a news conference in the capital Nairobi.

Kenya's second biggest lender also operates in South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In the first nine months of 2020, its pre-tax profit fell to 19.76 billion shillings from 24.79 billion shillings in the same period of 2019.

Over the same timeframe, its loan book grew 30% to 453.9 billion shillings, while customer deposits increased 45% to 691 billion.

Last year, Kenya's central bank governor said SMEs needed urgent help to survive the economic slowdown triggered by the pandemic, and that many were at risk of shutting down. - Nampa/Reuters

Denel board exits linked to lack of budget funds

A series of resignations from the board of directors of South Africa's state-owned defence company Denel is linked to funding not being made available in the government's 2021 budget, a senior official told Reuters on Wednesday.

"There were expectations from the board that there will be funding made available in the budget speech," said Kgathatso Tlhakudi, director-general of the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE). "When that was not forthcoming, they felt that they could not stay on."

Denel, which makes military equipment for South Africa's armed forces and for export, has faced a liquidity crunch aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 2021 budget presented in parliament last week, the National Treasury did not allocate it new bailout funds.

Tlhakudi added in an interview that the DPE, the main ministry responsible for Denel, believed the company had peripheral assets that could be sold off before agreeing strategic equity partnerships (SEP).

"Let's aim for the low-hanging fruit before we aim for that SEP process. There are peripheral assets that can be disposed of, dispose of those, we can't want to go to the core of the business when there are non-core assets that can be gotten rid of," he said. - Nampa/Reuters

Exxon commits to dividend growth

Exxon Mobil Corp said on Wednesday it will grow its dividend and cut debt through 2025, ahead of a closely watched investor meeting that comes a month after the top US oil and gas producer reported a historic annual loss.

In the recent months, the company has faced immense pressure from investors who want it to do more to rein in spending and cut carbon emissions.

Exxon and the rest of the oil industry endured one of the worst market downturns last year as the Covid-19 pandemic hammered energy prices and forced shale operators to slash the value of their assets by billions of dollars.

The company reaffirmed its plans to keep capital spending between US$16 billion and US$19 billion in 2021 and between US$20 billion and US$25 billion a year through 2025 on high return.

Separately, Exxon has also announced a 7% reduction in its Singapore workforce and detailed a plan to achieve $6 billion in annual savings by the end of 2023.- Nampa/Reuters

SoftBank aims to double PayPay users

SoftBank aims to double user numbers at its PayPay QR code payment app in the next three to four years, an executive at its domestic internet subsidiary Z Holdings told Reuters on Wednesday, as it seeks to extend its lead in cashless payments.

PayPay has used SoftBank's sales network and aggressive rebates to attract 36 million users in the three years since launch, driving a shift to push Japanese consumers to digital payments away from their traditional preference for cash.

"We want to double the user base during the investment phase," Z Holdings co-CEO Kentaro Kawabe said in a joint interview with fellow co-CEO Takeshi Idezawa.

The two executives, dressed in matching red and green ties, spoke following the completion of the merger of internet business Yahoo Japan with chat app operator Line - putting the latter's 86 million domestic users under SoftBank's umbrella.

Z Holdings announced on Monday that Line Pay, which has 39 million users but is less widely used and has signed up fewer merchants, would be merged with PayPay in 2022.- Nampa/Reuters

Lufthansa reports smaller than expected loss

Deutsche Lufthansa yesterday posted a smaller-than-expected net loss in the fourth quarter and forecast an operating loss in 2021 below last year’s level.

The German carrier said its net loss came at 1.14 billion euros (US$1.37 billion), above the company’s analyst consensus for a loss of 1.24 billion euros in the October-to-December period.

Fourth quarter adjusted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) came at -1.29 billion euros, also better than the analyst forecast.

The airline, which secured 9 billion euros in state aid last year, said it expects 2021 capacity on offer of 40% to 50% of 2019 levels and an average monthly operating cash drain of around 300 million euros in the first quarter of 2021.- Nampa/Reuters

'Prince' surrenders his castle

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'Prince' surrenders his castle'Prince' surrenders his castleNaidjala ready to throw in the towel One of Namibia's former boxing prospects, Immanuel 'Prince' Naidjala, has hinted at retirement from professional boxing. JESSE JACKSON KAURAISA

WINDHOEK



Once a boxing prospect of great promise, Namibia's Prince Immanuel Naidjala is set to announce his retirement from the sport.

It has been exactly two years since the Namibian last fought in a fight which saw him losing to Jason Moloney for the World Boxing Association Oceania bantamweight title. Life for Naidjala has moved on and he has moved to the coast where he works in the drilling department at the Swakopmund Uranium Mine.

At the age of 35, one would imagine that the Prince would have one more shot at rejuvenating what began as a promising boxing career. That is not the case though. The boxer says seeing less action in the past two years, coupled with the coronavirus pandemic, got him thinking about hanging up his gloves. “I am turning 36 this year and I just think my time to call it a day from the ring is approaching. “I have been thinking about announcing my retirement soon and I believe that it will happen when I come to Windhoek. “The fact that this virus came and events in Namibia have been hard to come by has also been motivating my thinking,” Naidjala said. Naidjala began his professional career in 2009 with an impressive win and went on to record 16 straight wins in his first professional fights. Many tipped him as a potential world champion following his impressive display under promoter Nestor 'Sunshine' Tobias. But Naidjala saw his chance of gaining the prestigious WBO bantamweight world title slip away after losing to Japan's Tamoki Kameda in December 2013. It was Naidjala's first defeat in 19 fights and also proved to be his only bid to gain the world title.

Naidjala did redeem his career with two straight wins, gaining the WBO Africa bantamweight title in the process and defending it on one occasion in 2014.

Things went south for the boxer in December 2014 after he lost his title to South Africa's Gideon Buthelezi at the Windhoek Country Club. As before, the Namibian bounced back with a win to claim the interim WBA Pan African bantamweight title in 2015. The year 2015 proved to be a year of restoration for the boxer as he also went on to claim the WBO inter-continental bantamweight title, and successfully defended it in 2016. The boxer experienced another disappointing loss in 2017 which saw Siboniso Gonya taking his belt at Ramatex on 1 April.

Naidjala lost another fight in December 2017 to Mzuvukile Magwaca before his last fight against Moloney in 2018.

The fighter, who has had an illustrious nine-year professional boxing career of ups and downs, says he has a reputation to protect. “I have no regrets at all because I believe that I did my best during my career and it is always important to end my career with a good reputation and name. “After I officially announce my retirement, I will still be involved in boxing though,” Naidjala said.

Shalulile's show

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Shalulile's showShalulile's show LIMBA MUPETAMI

WINDHOEK



If Mamelodi Sundowns' Peter Shalulile continues to play with the same intensity in the Dstv Premiership, a chance of moving up the goalscoring chart and making it to the European leagues is not far off, according to Jovita Kandjumbwa, a local sports journalist.

As it stands, Shalulile is on seven goals and assisted four for his teammates. The chart is headed by SuperSport United's Bradley Grobler with 13 goals, with Moroka Swallows' Ruzaigh Gamildien in second spot with 10 goals. In third is Cape Town City's Mduduzi Mdantsane with nine goals and fourth place is occupied by Shalulile's teammate, Themba Zwane.

Kandjumbwa says Shalulile is the epitome of hard work and he stands a good chance of reaching the top of the goalscoring chart and joining a European club.

“If he continues to work hard, keep team-mindedness, he will go far. Also, if not for age, I would say Europe's top leagues are attainable. But his agent also needs to put in the work,” added Kandjumbwa.



Sundowns the gateway

Sundowns have in the past produced the likes of Percy Tau, a South African professional footballer who now plays for Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion.

Tau began his football career with Sundowns where he made 100 appearances either side of a loan to Witbank Spurs. During his time with Sundowns, he won the league title twice, the Caf Champions League once and was named Footballer of the Year and joint-top goal scorer in his final season with the club.

Shalulile can also take strength from the fact that Namibia has produced the likes of Rudolf Bester, one of the few Namibians to play professional football outside Namibia, the first Namibian to win the Premier Soccer League with Orlando Pirates and the first Namibian to play against Tottenham Hotspur of England in 2011.

Leading in humility

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Leading in humilityLeading in humilityA hands-on mother leading a great cause Ester Kali is the chief executive officer of Letshego Holdings (Namibia) Limited and Letshego Bank (Namibia) Limited. She has been serving in this position for over five years. Wetumwene Shikage





Ester Kali’s educational background includes an MBA (specialising in general and strategic management) from the Maastricht School of Management; thesis topic on the assessment of customer satisfaction with the delivery through the branch network; a case of First National Bank of Namibia and Financial Services Advanced Diploma – Institute of Bankers in South Africa. She says that serving in this position for over five years has been the most rewarding and challenging task at the same time which still gives her joy as she navigates through her journey and career aspirations.

Some of the accomplishments she has achieved are: being able to successfully lead a team in order to obtain a banking licence which listed Letshego Namibia Holdings on the Namibia Stock Exchange in 2017; launching the bank’s first product in 2018; becoming the president of Bankers Association of Namibia (BAN) in 2020/2021 stepping into the big shoes of Sarel van Zyl; steering the appointment of the Bankers Association of Namibia CEO and being instrumental in the establishment of the BAN office.

“In the next two years I plan on expanding my literature through books, specifically in the digitisation and enterprise agility field. It is always important to expand knowledge even though you may feel that you have achieved great heights academically. I also intend on shaping the charity projects that I am involved with and dedicating more time to see it grow bigger than what it is,” Kali says.

A typical day for her starts with prayer and establishing a positive state of mind to get her through the day. “As much as I am driven by my work, I equally make time for my family. I’m a hands-on mother and always prepare our dinners. Fitness finds its way into my diary and I take time to wind down my day by writing down what I am grateful for. Weekends are for baking and watching movies with the family,” she says.

She loves keeping herself busy. “One of the facts about me are that I’ve had a sewing machine but never used it. Thankfully, due to lockdown I realised my talent at sewing.”

She gets inspiration from other women in leading positions at various institutions. “Women can learn so much from each other and I admire those women that need to juggle with so many hats and that make it seem so effortlessly done,” she said.

Kali says her childhood days were punctuated with challenges such as going to school without shoes, sometimes in the freezing Otjiwarongo winter, having one meal a day was not uncommon to her, studying at night was a mission as they had to share a candle because there was no electricity.

“By virtue of being the eldest child, I naturally felt the burden of responsibility to assist my mother financially. My mother providing for our family as a single, strong, independent woman and managing to rise above the rest and not depending on anyone is my best childhood memory. Her hard work will always be admired and there are too many memories but each one links to my mother,” she says.



10 Facts about Kali

· Godfearing

· Go-getter

· Loving

· Friendly

· Loyal

· Loves baking (especially Sourdough bread)

· Started sewing recently, when the pandemic broke out

· Started a garden at home

· Involved with various charity drives

· Loves sharing her time through public talks to share her knowledge and experience.

Young Namibian blossoms

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Young Namibian blossomsYoung Namibian blossoms Passionate young resettled farmer ploughs her way to success Post-settlement loan beneficiary Elize Eliphas (32) is a young female resettled commercial farmer in the Maltahöhe district near Mariental in the Hardap Region.

Eliphas' farming journey started at the tender age of 14 with her parents at their homestead in northern Namibia and through assisting her sister who was a small-scale farmer in the Kavango East Region.

After completing grade 12 with flying colours, she was advised to pursue medicine as a career, an idea she rejected and instead opted to enrol for an agriculture course at the Namibia University of Science and Technology.

“People look at agriculture as a field for the poor academic performers and when I decided to study agriculture, many people wanted me to do medicine, which was not my preference. My passion is agriculture. All I knew in my life was agriculture and my first two years of study was paid with money from farming,” she says.

Eliphas remained unemployed for six years after graduating and it was during this time that she came across a newspaper advertisement for farm resettlement. She applied and was resettled in 2015. Towards the end of the same year, she also received a Post Settlement Loan from Agribank to buy livestock, improve and maintain her resettled production unit. After two years of trial and error in farming, Eliphas approached the bank again to request for mentorship services.

In July 2017, she was accepted on Agribank's mentorship programme and attached to Johannes Motinga in the Hardap Region.

“I really appreciate Agribank's free mentorship programme. My mentor really opened my eyes to treat farming as business. He taught me different aspects of farming at a commercial level, ranging from record keeping, vaccinating programme, production plan, marketing, animal hygiene and farm diversification amongst others,” she says.

One of the biggest challenges she faced as a farmer, was the 2019 drought. Another challenge was an outbreak of Orf disease among her goats last year, which resulted in more loses at her farm.

Currently, Eliphas farms with cattle, goats, sheep, poultry as well as growing some crops.

She has three employees and three agriculture students from NUST are on a six-month job attachment contract at her farm.

“In the next five years, I picture myself being a successful commercial farmer from the resettled unit, and I want to be exemplary to other resettled farmers, who get resettled and become a burden to government by turning their farms into white elephants,” she says.

She urges other young people to use their time wisely, by spending most of their time on constructive ideas such as engaging in farming. She further advises young Namibians who harbour ideas of farming to start small and seek support from role players in the sector such as Agribank.

“My message to my fellow youth is: let's stop wasting our valuable time on unconstructive things such as drinking, complaining and gossiping. All these things will take us nowhere in life,” she says.

Katutura hospital beds get facelift courtesy of FirstRand Namibia

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Katutura hospital beds get facelift courtesy of FirstRand NamibiaKatutura hospital beds get facelift courtesy of FirstRand Namibia A donation of N$357 400 by FirstRand Namibia Hope Fund saw repair work on 52 Stiegmeyer beds commence at the Intermediate Hospital Katutura last week.

“We were made aware of the shortage of medical beds at the hospital and jumped at the chance to assist in repairing the beds, to help patients recuperate comfortably,” said Revonia Kahivere, FirstRand Namibia's corporate social investment manager.

“Access to healthcare is critical for us to function as a society and FirstRand Namibia prioritises the wellbeing of our nation in all spheres – ­especially for the most marginalised in our communities,” she added.

Dr Nelago Amugulu, the hospital's medical superintendent, extended the hospital's sincere gratitude and acknowledged that the donation and repair would go a long way in alleviating the shortage of appropriate beds in Intermediate Hospital Katutura.

The graduate unemployment crisis – A catalyst for youth revolt

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The graduate unemployment crisis – A catalyst for youth revoltThe graduate unemployment crisis – A catalyst for youth revolt TJEKUPE MAXIMALLIANT KATJIMUNE

In the coming months, thousands of mostly young adults will graduate from Namibia’s three biggest universities with various qualifications. They are not alone.

They will also be joined by another wave of graduates coming out of the many colleges and vocational training centres that have sprung up over the years across the higher education fraternity.

These thousands of young people are coming out of the higher education system with very high expectations. They want to land a job with a reasonable salary, one that matches the years and money they have invested into their qualifications. For those coming from poor and previously disadvantaged backgrounds, they are hoping to end the cycle of generational poverty that defines many families across Namibia, and in particular black families.

However, a bleak reality awaits these graduates. There are simply no jobs. Not only is there an oversupply of graduates from institutions of higher learning, but the Namibian economy has also seemingly failed to produce jobs at a rate fast enough to accommodate the thousands of graduates exiting the higher education system every year.

This year’s graduates will join the 67 000 already unemployed graduates reported by the ministry of higher education, training and innovation in 2018. Without a doubt, that number has exponentially increased since 2018, and must be hovering at more than 70 000 at the present moment.

Skyrocketing youth unemployment

Sadly, there is currently no guarantee that a university degree will secure young graduates employment, and subsequently a chance at uplifting not only their lives, but the lives of their families and communities as well.

Youth unemployment in Namibia in general is skyrocketing out of control. The latest figures released by the Namibian Statistics Agency in 2018 show that youth unemployment in Namibia is now at an alarming 43.40%, and that number has without a doubt increased considerably since then. The thousands of university graduates exiting the system this year will add to the growing number of frustrated, unemployed people on the streets of Namibia.

We are, therefore, faced with an existential crisis - the graduate unemployment crisis - and it has further reaching consequences for the social fabric and order of our society than we might think.

Peace and stability

This status quo is largely problematic because it threatens the general ‘peace and stability’ that we have come to enjoy in Namibia for the past 30 years.

Of course, the founder of peace studies, John Galtung, warns us that peace and stability must not always be defined in terms of physical conflict. However, for the purpose of this article, I shall be referring to peace and stability in their most simplistic and literal definitions - physical confrontation.

It is important to note that frustrated, unemployed and oppressed young people have been the orchestrators of revolutions and regime changes across Africa and the world in contemporary times; the recent Arab Spring in Libya and pro-democracy uprisings in Hong Kong being classic examples.

It is dangerous when it is the young educated masses who are the subject of such frustration, which is currently the case in terms of the graduate unemployment crisis in Namibia. Historically, the young educated elite have been the pacemakers and paradigm-shifters in terms of removing governments across the world.

Hence, the graduate unemployment crisis in Namibia is the fuel on the fire needed to ignite a revolt of the young people against the political, economic and social establishments within the country, which in turn can spiral into a broader conflict that could threaten the long-term stability of the state.

Inevitable revolt

An unemployed, frustrated and hungry youth is an angry youth, and youth unemployment in general and graduate unemployment in particular are ticking time bombs aiding an inevitable revolt.

It is, therefore, fundamental that government and the private sector come together to find a long-lasting solution to this problem. The future of Namibia rests upon its sprawling young people. In fact, young people constituted more than 60% of registered voters in the 2019 presidential and national assembly elections, and that number is expected to be reach over 70% in the 2024 elections.

The masses of unemployed young people will for sure not be voting for a government that is anti-youth.

* Tjekupe Maximalliant Katjimune is the national spokesperson of the Popular Democratic Movement Youth League, and a prospective graduate of political science and sociology at the University of Namibia.

Meatco announces 2021 cattle procurement strategy

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Meatco announces 2021 cattle procurement strategyMeatco announces 2021 cattle procurement strategy STAFF REPORTER



Meatco’s Livestock Production and Value-Addition Department has devised a robust strategy to buy cattle from local cattle producers with marketable cattle.

The department aims to buy animals from communal and commercial producers through strategically devised platforms, such as permit days scheduled in the communal areas, which allow for mass gatherings where the department can buy many animals. The department also robustly sources animals at communal and commercial auction days organised through farmers’ associations or organised agricultural entities.

Meatco will also buy animals directly from the farm using a platform referred to as ‘on-farm permit days’, which is an arranged sale between Meatco and the farmer where the farmer receives payment immediately to avoid additional transportation costs.

According to Meatco, the direct delivery of cattle by communal and commercial producers to their Export Abattoir is another way they aim at actively buying animals this year. Producers can also directly deliver the animals to various daily permanent buying points like the Annasruh Feedlot, 30 kilometres east of Gobabis; and the Klein Hamakari buying point in the Otjozondjupa Region that is due to open by the end of March; and the Okapuka Feedlot.

Meatco is rolling out a Special Feeders Contract, which will bind cattle producers to deliver a fixed number of animals per month for the period April 2021 to January 2022. An expression of interest has been issued in this regard.

Besides these strategies, the Corporation will buy animals from neighbouring Botswana. Namibia and Botswana have the same animal health standards, and that country also has access to the European Union (EU) market. Therefore, sourcing cattle from Botswana will secure raw material for the local market and leaving the Namibian cattle South of the Veterinary Cordon Fence for the international markets in the interim.

“Namibian cattle producers remain an important stakeholder and Meatco will continue to source animals from Namibian producers. However, we will not limit ourselves to the Namibian farmers in our quest to secure throughput for our abattoir sustainably,” Meatco said.

Negative rates effective tools to spur growth

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Negative rates effective tools to spur growth Negative rates effective tools to spur growth Easing financial conditions Central banks that adopted negative rates may be able to cut them further. Many central banks may be forced to consider negative interest rates "sooner or later," given evidence the policy has succeeded in easing financial conditions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a blog posted on Wednesday.

Since 2012, central banks in Denmark, the euro zone, Japan, Sweden and Switzerland have introduced negative interest rates to battle persistently below-target inflation rates.

In some countries, the policy has been unpopular and criticised for doing more harm than good by straining financial institutions' margins and discouraging them to boost lending.

The IMF blog countered the view, saying that experiences so far showed negative rates likely supported growth and inflation.

Potential side-effects, such as risks of destabilising the banking system and disrupting market functions, have "largely failed to materialise," IMF economists said in the blog.

"In sum, the evidence so far indicates negative interest rate policies have succeeded in easing financial conditions without raising significant financial stability concerns," the IMF economists said.

"Central banks that adopted negative rates may be able to cut them further. Ultimately, given the low level of the neutral real interest rate, many central banks may be forced to consider negative interest rate policies sooner or later."

Major central banks have deployed massive stimulus measures to cushion the economic blow from the Covid-19 pandemic, and are under pressure to find new means to prop up growth with a dwindling policy tool-kit. - Nampa/Reuters

Rundu won't cut residents' water

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Rundu won't cut residents' waterRundu won't cut residents' water Kenya Kambowe

RUNDU



While some local authorities have threatened residents who defaulted on their water accounts, the Rundu town council says they will not disconnect residents' water until the line ministry says otherwise.

Only water to businesses and institutions will be cut. This is according to Rundu acting CEO, Sam Nekaro, who yesterday said they will not go against the directive issued by the line ministry last year which ordered local authorities to reconnect the water of those who were cut off previously for defaulting on payments.

This was done soon after President Hage Geingob announced a state of emergency following the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country.

The local authorities were also ordered to ensure water is provided to those who cannot afford it, particularly in informal settlements.

Some residents, however, have found a loophole in the directive, opting out of paying for services because the local authority will not cut off their water.

Nekaro said unless a directive contrary to last year's is made, Rundu town council will not cut water provision to residential premises.

“The directive was until further notice and we haven't received anything contrary to that,” he said.



'It'll catch up'

Nekaro said residents who have opted not to pay for services are taking advantage of the situation, adding it will catch up with them later on.

He said people will still have to pay for the services rendered to them, therefore, residents should adhere and pay their dues.

Rundu owes NamWater millions of dollars, a debt the local authority is struggling to deal with.

Recently, Namibian Sun saw a series of letters from the water utility to local authorities demanding what is due to them.

Just last week, Katima Mulilo was moved back to prepaid water, which saw the town experiencing water shortages for a number of days.

A similar letter from NamWater to the City of Windhoek also made rounds last week.

Namibian Sun yesterday saw a copy of a notice from the Keetmanshoop municipality dated 24 February in which the residents who have defaulted on their water accounts are urged to make payment by today or their water will be discontinued.

When contacted for comment, urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni stressed that leaders at local authorities should engage residents on why it is important to pay for services.

kenya@namibiansun.com

Bush: Turning threat into opportunity

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Bush: Turning threat into opportunityBush: Turning threat into opportunity ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



A review of whether Namibian biomass can be used as a renewable energy source in Hamburg, Germany, will take until July this year.

In early 2020, the Hamburg ministry of environment, climate, energy and agriculture decided to investigate the feasibility of potential imports of Namibian bush biomass.

This came after a study tour by Namibian representatives of government, academia, and private sector to Germany the preceding year, Asellah David from the Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation Project told Namibian Sun. “The authority assesses whether Namibian biomass can be used as a renewable energy source in Hamburg, contributing to the phase-out of coal. This review process will take until July 2021.” She said German and Namibian stakeholders from the government, private sector and civil society participate in working groups and workshops in Hamburg - including the GIZ Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation Project (BCBU).

“GIZ BCBU is not evaluating or deciding, but is contributing its knowledge from seven years of experience with biomass projects in Namibia.” David said GIZ also mediates between stakeholders from Namibia and Hamburg by networking with them.

“This way it ensures that Namibian representatives from the state, the private sector and civil society, including environmental organisations, are involved.”

The results of the assessment will be made available by the middle of this year.

“If fundamental prerequisites for possible exports are met and the involved parties agree to proceed, Namibian law will require further formal assessments to ensure full social and environmental compliance.”

Protests against the project flared up in Hamburg last week.

Climate activist group Red Wood said the plan would go against the goal of a “climate-friendly, socially just energy supply.” “If we burn Namibia's ecosystems for warm living rooms here in Hamburg, it is harmful to the climate, endangers biodiversity and is unfair,” it said.

However, David said bush encroachment of savanna landscapes is one of the main forms of land degradation in Namibia.

Estimates are that 45 million hectares of productive land is affected by encroacher bush.

This phenomenon harms biodiversity, groundwater recharge and land productivity.

She pointed out that invader bush has turned from a threat into an opportunity for Namibia, which is evidenced by employment figures in the biomass industry. Since 2016, rural employment in the biomass sector has increased from 6 000 to more than 11 000 workers.

Jobs are created primarily in the production of charcoal for export, and increasingly also in the production of animal feed, says David. According to David more than 800 farmers benefited from being able to feed their herds with bush-based feed during the drought of 2019.

Moreover, encroacher bush has been successfully marketed on international markets in the form of charcoal and briquettes for several decades.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) has since 2014 been supporting the environment ministry to address bush encroachment through the Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation (BCBU) Project. David says the aim is to rehabilitate affected areas by selectively reducing the bush and making economic use of the resulting wood.

Farmers assisted after drought

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Farmers assisted after droughtFarmers assisted after droughtGoats to the rescue Close to 4 000 breeding goats have been distributed in nine regions to help small-scale farmers get back on their feet after the drought. ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



Small-scale farmers in the //Karas, Hardap, Kunene and Omaheke regions will receive quality breeding goats from government this financial year after having been faced with one of the worst droughts in Namibia.

This is but one of the interventions the agriculture ministry is implementing to assist farmers following the declaration of the drought as a national state of emergency in May 2019.

Agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein - who was responding to questions posed in Parliament - said the ministry and other stakeholders implemented measures to mitigate negative impacts on affected and vulnerable communities after the national emergency was declared. These measures were mainly in the areas of water, livestock marketing, fodder and food provision, he said.

As drought relief interventions, the ministry implemented the livestock marketing scheme, the animal feed subsidy and fodder provision, lease grazing, transport subsidy and water provision.

As an ongoing intervention to support vulnerable households with quality core breeding stock, the ministry is implementing the small stock distribution and development programme in communal areas, Schlettwein said.

“This revolving project is aimed at providing quality core breeding flock of suitable local goats to selected vulnerable households to gain a sustainable means of income and increased food security.”



3 780 goats distributed

During this financial year, the programme will benefit small-scale farmers and the former South West Africa Territorial Force members camping at the Katutura Hall in Windhoek, who are set to be relocated to their respective regions.

The minister said the process of selecting potential beneficiaries and the distribution of goats is at its final stage.

To date, 180 beneficiaries have benefitted from the project, while a total of 3 780 goats were distributed in the Kavango West, Kavango East, Zambezi, Otjozondjupa, Erongo, Ohangwena, Khomas, Oshana and Kunene regions.

Furthermore, Schlettwein spoke about the Improving Rangeland and Ecosystem Management (Irema) Kunene Project Small Stock Revolving Scheme. He said the project, which is being implemented with the Environmental Investment Fund, aims to improve the livelihood of rural communities and to contribute to food and nutrition security.

He said the scheme is also aimed at providing quality core breeding flock of suitable goats to selected vulnerable households to gain a sustainable means of income generation and enhanced food and nutrition security while improving their social and economic well-being. Considering that Namibia is extensively affected by climate change, Schlettwein said vulnerable households that own either a few livestock or none are severely affected by the effects of drought, pests and disease outbreak.

“Therefore, this project is striving to assist farmers in Kunene region with the restocking of small stock.”

To date, the ministry has handed over 400 does and 20 bucks to farmers in Kunene. The value of the goats, fodder, medicine and vaccine is estimated at around N$900 000. The ministry has also empowered the beneficiaries with training in small stock management.

The beneficiaries are being closely monitored through the extension officials of the ministry to ensure sustainability of the scheme.

BW Kudu collaborates with Namcor

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BW Kudu collaborates with NamcorBW Kudu collaborates with NamcorInvesting in the youth of Namibia Essay competition to increase awareness of the oil and gas sector in the national economy. the Kudu gas field, BW Kudu, in collaboration with Namcor and the ministry of mines and energy, has invited grade 9 to 12 learners across the country to participate in an essay-writing competition under the theme ‘How do we best develop our natural gas resources for the future of Namibia’.

The contest is an opportunity for learners to increase their awareness of the oil and gas sector in the national economy, and the potential benefits of hydrocarbon (natural gas) exploration and development.

The project aims to inspire the learners to study natural science subjects in their further education. Entries can be in the form of a 1 000-word essay or a two-minute video, podcast, poster, or animation.

A total of 14 winners will be selected (one winner from each region) and each winner will receive an prize of N$3 000 plus N$4 000 for their school. In addition, the top three winners will each receive a brand-new laptop. The competition will run from 1 March 2021 to 6 April 2021, and the winners will be announced at an award ceremony at the end of May 2021.

Learners should send their work to entry@kuduessay.com and are advised to be as creative as possible.

BW Kudu’s general manager, Klaus Endresen, hopes that the competition will help inspire interest in energy issues among learners.

“Namibia is endowed with great natural resources that can be used in a responsible way and generate income and jobs for the country. The gas that has been discovered can be used to generate electricity for the local and regional markets,” he said.

Namcor’s executive for upstream development, Manfriedt Muundjua, is particularly upbeat about increased petroleum-related knowledge that will be gained by learners.

“Most learners know about renewable energy, but most of our energy for the foreseeable future will come from petroleum. We hope this competition makes learners think about the energy we use and the advantages and disadvantages of different energy sources,” he says.

Echoing his sentiments, the petroleum commissioner in the ministry of mines and energy, Maggy Shino, highlighted the serious energy shortages faced by Namibia and the Southern African region at large.

“What are the solutions to this predicament? We invite learners and science teachers to discuss this in class and submit thought-provoking essays and videos to us,” she said.

BW Kudu is the developer of the Kudu gas field, which contains some 1.3 trillion cubic feet of gas. The Kudu gas field is an offshore natural gas field in Namibia approximately 130 kilometres north-west of Oranjemund, located in the Orange Sub-basin in 170 metres of water depth.

Japanese government donates food aid worth N$42 million

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Japanese government donates food aid worth N$42 million Japanese government donates food aid worth N$42 million STAFF REPORTER



The deputy prime minister and minister of international relations and cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, and Japanese ambassador Harada Hideaki signed a food aid agreement this week.

The agreement will see Japan provide food aid worth around N$42 million in support of the Namibian government’s efforts in tackling difficulties caused by the significant drought (2016-2019) and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nandi-Ndaitwah thanked Japan for this cooperation and said Japan is among the countries that continue to be with Namibian in difficult situations, be it drought ot the pandemic.

“The assistance offered has definitely made and will continue to make a difference in the lives of many Namibians,” she said.

In addition to the food aid, Japan has started implementing a technical a technical cooperation project in the northern regions, which aims to increase food production and improve the livelihood of small-scale farmers through diversification of agricultural and farm products, provision of training and facilitating farmers’ access to markets.

Ambassador Hideaki emphasised that the motto of the Japanese policy toward Africa is ‘Respect Africa’s Ownership; Support in the Spirit of Partnership’.

Photo caption: Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah and Japanese ambassador Harada Hideaki signed a food aid agreement this week.

Keeping it real

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Keeping it real Keeping it real I want to share my thoughts on the importance of having a clearly defined roll-out plan for a project.

I’m disappointed by Namibian musicians who announce that they are quitting music only to rebrand a few months later with new music under their new alias.

I feel like as a roll-out, that strategy is now played out.

Also, hosting events simply to premiere a music video is getting old. Namibian artists need to get more creative with how they present their music to the masses.

It is for this reason I’m impressed by Peacemakers’ comic book, which they plan to release ahead of their album. That’s a smart way of keeping people in suspense. In this edition, you can read up on the comic, find out all the details about tomorrow’s concerts at the College of the Arts (Cota) and more.



- michael@namibiansun.com

Thinking outside the box

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Thinking outside the boxThinking outside the boxPeacemakers changing the narrative Made up of Kid Wasabi and Sonny Vision, the duo is gearing up for the release of their debut album Cosmic Womb later this year. MICHAEL KAYUNDE







WINDHOEK

With an EP to their name and an official debut album in the pipeline, Peacemakers has created a visual representation of their album concept in the form of a comic bookm scheduled for release next month.

One half of the duo – Kid Wasabi - briefly sat down with tjil to unpack this announcement.

tjil (t): You recently announced that you will be releasing a comic book for your forthcoming debut album ‘Cosmic Womb’. Why was it important for you to have an extension of the album through this medium?

Kid Wasabi (KW): For us, it was of major significance because of the depth and overall conceptualisation of our debut album. It gave something extra for our audience, you know; something away from the music. This sets us apart for a lifetime. We will always be remembered as pioneers of an untapped lane in Namibia. The comic gives us new boundaries and it creates anticipation, but overall, it shows everyone our ability to think outside the box.

t: What do you want people to walk away with after reading this comic book?

KW: We really just want to highlight the narrative that the culture is here for the kids. “Creating believers” is what I like to call it because we want kids to line up for whatever releases we have, whether merchandise, music, etc.

t: When can we expect Cosmic Womb?

KW: Management says we shouldn't comment or engage in any announcements that could falsely lead people on. So, for now, we don't have a release date, but be assured our album will hit the streets this year. Let’s just say that everything is coming to full fruition.

t: Where can people purchase the comic book?

KW: The comic book will be sold in physical format. Prices and availability will be shared soon via our main Instagram account. The comic book is a connoisseur's piece - think of it as a rare jewel or gem. This is our introduction to character development and branching our brand into many other mediums of art and entertainment. This is the first Namibian comic by artists/musicians. The value of this piece will be worth far more in years to come. Think of it as a modern-day Namibian art relic.

Iyaloo Magongo, the passionate young lady is the founder of the Wine Club

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Iyaloo Magongo, the passionate young lady is the founder of the Wine ClubIyaloo Magongo, the passionate young lady is the founder of the Wine Club The opportunity for young individuals to network and enjoy wine Iyaloo Magongo

Windhoek Wine Club is a club established in 2020 which promotes the love of wine by providing other wine lovers the chance to learn about the wonderful world of wine as we socialize and meet a diverse group of people with similar interests. Members of the club has since been practicing effective networking through hosting monthly social events and since have built and maintained a strong support system of the club.

Our primary emphasis is to have fun by fusing three activities – cultivating the knowledge around wine, the appreciation of it and networking with fellow wine enthusiast. Our moto is “in vino veritas” which means ‘there is truth in wine”.

The Wine Club encourages young professionals to participate in social clubs/events as it gives us the opportunity to build new friendships, explore our personal interests, create excitement in our lives, switch up our routine and develop skills and knowledge valuable for life.

The club provides a unique experience to young professional looking into networking and establishing connections while promoting the art of viticulture which makes the club different from other wine clubs.

Social media is one of the most effective marketing tool, hence we want to showcase our story in the digital space. Social media is important to the club as it provides a platform for direct communication between our members, prospects members, and new partnerships.

The only challenge at the moment is Covid19, as now we are limited in hosting events and social gatherings. But the club ensures to adhere to the Covid19 rules and guidelines in order to deliver a safe experience for all attendees at all events we host.

Apart from hosting small gatherings last year, the wine club has hosted its first official event under the theme “Wine and Networking Event” an event which was crafted around creating an opportunity for wine lovers to interact and network while motivating Namibians in supporting the industry of grape growers and wine makers in Namibia.

What made this event special was the two prominent wineries in Namibia, Thonningi Winery and Naankuse Collection / Neuras Wine & Wildlife Estate that sponsored Namibian made wine for the wine tasting. The wine club has 40 members and 6 board members Iyaloo Magongo, Gershwin Hamunyela, Justina Nghinamanhu, Abner Shiwalo, Hage Iyambo and Helena Petrus who ensures the smooth operation of the wine club.

In the next 5 years the club wishes to collaborate with wineries in order to continue promoting the love of viniculture and to create a safe space for young wine professionals to networks in different social settings.

The club encourages young professionals to participate in social clubs/events as it gives them opportunity to build new friendships, explore personal interests, create excitement in our lives, switch up our routine and develop skills and knowledge valuable for life.

The innovative Paratus signs big

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The innovative Paratus signs bigThe innovative Paratus signs big Paratus Namibia signs first ‘infrastructure sharing’ agreement STAFF REPORTER

Paratus Namibia has signed its first ‘fibre open access’ agreement onboarding Africa Online as a client. This is the first of many deals in which Paratus will share its infrastructure with licensed operators in delivering fibre connections to the broader business and domestic market in Namibia.

By removing the main barrier to enter the market, Open Access allows multiple operators to share the same fibre infrastructure and deliver services to their respective customers without the need to duplicate the costly development of that infrastructure. It enables and promotes healthy competition between operators, without any monopolistic action, and makes the service affordable to customers.

Paratus Namibia is effectively disrupting the network services industry with this move by enabling fair competition and affordability to customers and users and, more importantly, it gives the economy a boost because, as its name suggests, Open Access opens economic opportunities for licensed operators to benefit from connecting to a growing fibre network. This strategic move is in line with the provisions of the Communications Act, and Paratus is excited about being the catalyst, as the first operator to actively share infrastructure in the form of an open-access network.

Paratus Namibia MD Andrew Hall says: “This is really a market disruptor because we are sharing our infrastructure in a way that has never been done before in our country. By breaking with tradition, we are launching a truly commercial initiative and giving a leg-up to the ICT industry by creating opportunities for other licensed operators to access our network. We have made significant investment in our infrastructure and this obviates the need for other operators to do so. The spin-off can only be positive and help boost business confidence. It is a win-win solution.

“We have been committed to delivering Africa’s quality network and now we are opening the valve for improved communication in Namibia; we are removing the clots; and we are letting the lifeblood of communication flow freely.”

The pace of technology, the pandemic and the prerequisite for high-speed internet are evident. People need reliable, quality connections at any time and now that e-learning and remote working are the new modus operandi, fibre is the best last mile technology to accommodate this need due to its extreme bandwidth capacity, ease of upgrade, reliability, and better consistency than most radio technology last miles. The bulk of Paratus Namibia’s investment has been in fibre infrastructure (currently running at around N$150 million annually) as the operator sees this as the best solution for today and the foreseeable future.

Africa Online is the first of many in the pipeline to sign up to Paratus Namibia’s Open Access service. Africa Online managing director Ingram van Heerden says: “Partnering with Paratus to be able to offer fibre services to the Namibian market allows us to continue offering the best technology at the best price to our customers without making a huge outlay of capital investment. Paratus has made a significant infrastructure investment and rolled out a high-quality fibre network, and Africa Online is proud to be their first open-access partner and to be able take advantage of this opportunity. As well as improving our value proposition to customers, this will have an immediate and positive effect on our business.”

Andrew Hall concludes: “We are extremely proud to be the conduit in offering Namibian businesses the opportunity to actively play a role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We are delighted to be making this epic change in how operators can become competitive and help breathe new life into our economy. We are thinking big, and without limits, and we are very happy to be helping deliver unlimited connectivity to the people of Namibia.”

Based in Windhoek, Paratus Namibia is part of the Paratus Group, which is the largest privately owned pan-African network operator. Paratus offers the private and corporate sectors various access technologies such as fibre, microwave, WiMAX, as well as fixed and mobile LTE. These are all provided on a stable, reliable, and unlimited network that is scalable and provide redundancy, disaster recovery and route diversity to ensure maximum uptime. Paratus Namibia also hosts its own Earth station, linked to the fibre backbone, allowing capacity to be distributed countrywide.

In delivering Africa’s quality network, Paratus Namibia thinks big and believes passionately in the potential of Africa. The company is investing in infrastructure and in delivering unlimited reliable and affordable connectivity which, in turn, will help unlock Africa’s potential.

Sustainable finance a catalyst for recovery

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Sustainable finance a catalyst for recoverySustainable finance a catalyst for recovery‘Put your money where it matters the most’ The fastest and most cost-effective way to address energy supply is through renewable power projects. We believe that Namibia is primed for a sustainable finance boom, given its potential in the renewable energy space. Marco Triebner, Head of Investment Banking: Standard Bank Namibia Sustainable finance is a catalyst for Namibia’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic which caused a lot of disruptions in the domestic economy.

According to Marco Triebner, Head of Investment Banking at Standard Bank Namibia, the Covid-19 pandemic has heightened the focus on climate change and financial instruments that promote sustainable economic development.

“The pandemic has impeded Namibia’s growth and demanded new approaches to economic development. It also highlighted the importance of sustainability and environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues. Pressure is building on financial institutions and non-banking financial institutions, asset managers and corporates to give more attention to ESG issues in their day-to-day operations. We believe that Namibia is primed for a sustainable finance boom, given its potential in the renewable energy space and its ongoing developmental challenges,” he said.

Triebner also said the fastest and most cost-effective way to address energy supply is through renewable power projects and further advances in battery storage technologies, coupled with cost declines, mean renewables are becoming increasingly attractive and viable.

Investment

Sustainable finance could help drive Namibia’s recovery from Covid-19 while also incentivising much-needed investments in the green economy and social development.

“Partly owing to the impact of Covid-19, we are already seeing a surge in interest in financial products that promote a more sustainable economy. For instance, the pandemic is boosting demand for bonds that fund social projects and this trend is expected to continue. Social bonds, which are used to finance projects focused on delivering positive social outcomes, have come to the fore during the pandemic as investors and corporates seek to make an impact, while also generating attractive returns,” said Triebner.

The expansion of the sustainable finance market’s growth is being supported by the establishment of ESG-linked funds, sustainable indices and by an evolving regulatory environment. The sustainable finance market is also being driven by investors who are increasingly gravitating towards ESG-linked assets, partly on the premise that they outperform over the long term, added Triebner. - Nampa

Shilimela guard sued for shooting incident

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Shilimela guard sued for shooting incidentShilimela guard sued for shooting incidentVictims face ‘long-term pain and suffering’ Despite Shilimela Security Services claiming a lawsuit against it is “vague and embarrassing”, a judge has ruled that the company can be held responsible for a September 2017 shooting. JANA-MARI SMITH







WINDHOEK

A High Court judge this week gave the greenlight for a lawsuit to continue in which two shooting victims are suing Shilimela Security Services for close to N$3 million after they were shot by one of its guards in Katutura in 2017.

Saara Kambuze and Kristof Namukwambi both launched lawsuits against Shilimela last September, three years after they were wounded by bullets fired by one of the company’s security guards at a bar in Single Quarters on 27 September 2017.

Namukwambi is asking the court to order the security company to pay him N$1.5 million for damages arising from the shooting, while Kambuze is suing the company for N$750 000.

Before their case could get underway, however, Shilimela asked that the court dismiss their lawsuits.

The company argued that not naming the security guard involved made their case unwinnable, and that they could not be held responsible for the unnamed guard’s actions.

The company also argued the lawsuit papers were “vague and embarrassing”.

Cold water

On Tuesday, judge Orben Sibeya ruled that the case could continue and that Shilimela can be held liable for the actions of an employee even if that person is not named in the claim.

The judge said Shilimela’s attempt to have the duo’s lawsuit dismissed was an attempt to pour “cold water on the threatening damages claims by the plaintiffs”.

He added that it would “defeat the ancient established principle of vicarious liability” if employers cannot be held responsible just because the name of an employee is not stated and “will amount to a travesty of justice”.

In an affidavit, the company’s owner, Banda Shilimela, argued that Kambuze and Namukwambi “intentionally failed” to cite the name of the security guard and this makes it difficult for the company to identify the person.

“I employ more than 500 security guards. As such, I can only determine whether such a security guard is under my employment if a name is provided.”

Serious injuries

Kambuze and Namukwambi’s claim rests on the shooting during which both sustained serious injuries that landed them in hospital for more than a week.

Both have bullet fragments they say cannot be removed from their bodies as they are lodged too close to vital arteries and veins.

Both say they lost income and employment as a result of the injuries and continue to suffer long-term medical pain and suffering.

Kambuze informed the court in January that according to her knowledge, the police investigation into the shooting incident has stalled over the past three years. She told the court that she opened a case with the police but that she was told three years later the “investigations are not finalised”.

She added that the police have also failed to provide her with a docket of the case.

Banda accused Kambuze of not being able to prove that she opened a case and that it was likely untrue.

The case has been postponed to 16 March for a planning conference.

The plaintiffs are represented by their legal aid lawyer Profysen Muluti of Muluti and Partners, while the security company is represented by Silas-Kishi Shakumu.

Toothless tax law hamstrings Namra’s Shivute

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Toothless tax law hamstrings Namra’s Shivute Toothless tax law hamstrings Namra’s Shivute OGONE TLHAGE



WINDHOEK

Newly appointed Namibia Revenue Agency (Namra) commissioner Sam Shivute says he is currently powerless as he is still waiting on the enactment of the tax collection body’s Act.

Shivute made the comment when asked about the work being done to get the new establishment started.

The Namra Act is expected to be signed into law on 6 April, marking the dawn of a new era as far as tax revenue collection and its compliance is concerned.

The Act will be gazetted on 31 March.

“The Namra Act is not yet enacted. I don’t have tax powers yet,” Shivute said when asked about his first 100 days in office as the agency’s commissioner.

“I don’t have the authority to ask for information which in law is correct.”

He, however, said background work to get the agency on its feet was progressing well.

“The establishment is going well and we are busy with appointments. I can confirm that with regards to the set-up, we are on course. Before Namra becomes operational, I can only set up in the background,” he said.

Strong ethical foundations

Shivute was appointed as the agency’s first commissioner in September 2020. The agency, Shivute said, would be built on strong ethical foundations.

“Namra will be founded on a strong and ethical leadership foundation. A strong revenue service and customs administration is the fundamental cornerstone of an effective state and key enabler in government’s ability to fund expenditure and provide for its people,” he said.

He also promised to appoint people in the right positions at the agency.

“We will endeavour to have the right staff with the right skills and the right mindsets in the right positions. We will invest in our staff and ensure that they are duly capacitated so that they can be the best of the best at what they do.”

Vakwangali chieftaincy won’t start afresh – Hambyuka

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Vakwangali chieftaincy won’t start afresh – HambyukaVakwangali chieftaincy won’t start afresh – Hambyuka Kenya Kambowe



RUNDU

While there exists a faction aiming to dethrone Uukwangali chief Eugene Siwombe Kudumo, the traditional authority’s chairperson Hamunyera Hambyuka says the process to have a leader recognised by government won’t start afresh.

Hambyuka said Kudumo remains the chief of the Vakwangali tribe and issues hindering his recognition by government are being addressed.

“We have requested a meeting with the royal family where issues will be dealt with,” Hambyuka said.

“For now, chief Kudumo remains the head of the tribe. He is no longer recognised by the state because of the High Court ruling, but we are working on it and once all is set, we shall reapply for government to recognise him as our chief.”

Hambyuka could not give a timeline regarding when these processes will be completed.

‘Invalid’

In 2019, High Court Judge Harald Geier ruled that Kudumo's designation as chief of the traditional authority by then minister of urban and rural development Sophia Shaningwa on 15 February 2017 be set aside.

Geier declared his designation “invalid and of no force or effect” and Kudumo was de-gazetted.

Kudumo took the matter to the Supreme Court, where he ran into a brick wall.

The chieftaincy wrangle follows the death of Kudumo's grandfather, Chief Sitentu Daniel Mpasi, in 2014.

The anti-Kudumo faction is headed by Andreas Kamukwanyama.

The Kamukwanyama-led committee previously told Namibian Sun that they planned to designate a new chief for the tribe.

Last year, Kudumo labelled those trying to remove him from the position he has held since 2015 as “criminals” and “foreigners”.

Designate vs recognise

Regarding the Supreme Court ruling, Kudumo blamed Shaningwa for using the term ‘designate’. According to him, chiefs are not designated by the government but rather recognised in accordance with the Traditional Authorities Act.

“The government only recognises you as a hompa and what the government nullified is the then minister who just made a mistake by saying designate when she was supposed just to approve,” Kudumo claimed.

“So, we followed the right procedure. I am still the hompa [chief], we only look for recognition from government.

“This group, they customarily don't have the right to grab the key of the office. We must distinguish between chieftainship and traditional authority. If you are going to grab the key, you are just going to start a coup. We will not allow them to do as they please. I have thousands of supporters, while they are just nine to 100. I remain the hompa of the Vakwangali,” he said.

kenya@namibiansun.com

Putting the client's need before anyone else

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Putting the client's need before anyone elsePutting the client's need before anyone elseSanlam financial adviser Armas Nikanor would love the opportunity to manage a team and shape them into successful workers. Nikanor provides strategic advice on a variety of financial products and services. Michelline Nawatises



Armas Nikanor was born and raised in northern Namibia and moved to Windhoek for a better education.

Armas is a graduate of the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), where he studied public management. Since leaving university, Armas has enjoyed a career in the insurance industry for the past two years.

As a financial adviser, his job is all about providing strategic advice on a variety of financial products and services. Assessing the client's overall financial picture and understanding their needs also plays a part in his role. Developing a solid financial plan and guiding clients towards a profitable and secure financial decision are all part of the job.

Speaking about his biggest challenges and accomplishments, Armas says advising during market events such as the Covid-19 pandemic is tough, as people become very anxious about their finances. Nikanor says meeting his set targets is a huge accomplishment, especially in these difficult economic times.

His typical day in the office includes making calls and sending emails on his daily to-do list, following up on general service requests, and calling clients to schedule review meetings.

“It is surprising how many calls and emails can come in while you are in an hour-long client appointment,” he says. Nikanor says it is vital for him to answer all voicemails and emails on the day they were received, if possible. “Excellent service is important to me and important to my client,” he says.

His future goals involve learning as much as he can until he eventually takes on a leadership role. “I prefer to work with others, and I believe that I could thrive as a leader if given the opportunity,” he says boldly. He would love the opportunity to manage a team and shape them into successful workers. Furthering his studies in the near future and obtaining an MBA from a reputable institution are also in the pipeline.

Nikanor advises young people to consider themselves as an empty bottle to be filled with so many dreams and aspirations. “But for those dreams to become a reality is a huge responsibility,” he says. “So, gather the knowledge and get better equipped with the wisdom to take up the responsibility.”

If he had an opportunity to change anything in the world, he would change education. He says the educational system relies heavily on learning basic knowledge. A lot of knowledge is not applicable later in life. “Aside from basic knowledge like math and spelling, of course. Instead, we should teach our kids to solve problems. Give them a problem, let them solve it, and let there be no right or wrong. To be successful in life you need to be able to solve problems,” he says.

Keeping up with the times anda technology

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Keeping up with the times anda technologyKeeping up with the times anda technology TransNamib introduces new train operations system to improve efficiency TransNamib has developed a new train operation management system that will increase operational efficiency and cut costs.

The Transportation Management System (TMS) will replace the TransNamib Revenue and Accounting Customer Care System (TRAACS).

The new system was developed by the company's department of technology and innovation, which was established in 2019.

According to TransNamib spokesperson Abigail Raubenheimer, the department has been developing the TMS for the past two years to replace the TRACCS legacy system.

“The requirements of TMS were based on the current operational processes, but have been streamlined and built on a modern platform, which allows operational staff to quickly access, enter and review operational tasks and information.”

Raubenheimer said the new TMS system has started reducing TransNamib's operational costs, as the outdated system included many manual processes.

That meant the operations department ran up high telephone bills to manage the movement of freight.

“With the new system, once information has been loaded, visibility is immediately available at all our stations.”

Raubenheimer said on the new system information is captured per section of the railway line, so once the train is loaded, they are able to see what was loaded at the last section or station.

She said this system allows the company to improve service delivery to customers and to manage rolling stock better.

She added that the system will allow for improved demand forecasting and better coordination between Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and sales systems, which will result in more accurate forecasts, leading to more efficient ordering and improved margins.

Raubenheimer said it also streamlines the billing process.

“TransNamib will have control and visibility over the entire lifecycle of a transaction, from the way an item is ordered to the way the final invoice is processed —providing full insight into cash flow and financial commitments.”

TransNamib is currently working on phase two of the project, which will allow customers to access and interact with the system.

“The effective use of technology will be the major driver of transformation in our operations. Thus, digitisation and streamlining of processes is the future.

“Our main objective is making the adoption and use of digital technology as advantageous and as easy as possible.

“It is a competitive necessity and game-changer that requires constant improvements for customer and user experience and functionality,” said Logan Fransman, the executive for technology and innovation at TransNamib.

If you continue to work hard, success will follow

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If you continue to work hard, success will followIf you continue to work hard, success will followDeloitte auditing firm produces stars in the financial industry Alma Atta Ashipala is a senior assistant at Deloitte Namibia. Monique Adams



The soft-spoken Ashipala was born and raised in Walvis Bay, where she attended Naraville Primary School and Swakopmund Secondary School.

The young aspiring professional was raised in a Christian home where she was the only girl among boys and had to take on a lot of responsibility at an early age.

“Growing up, I did all the cleaning and cooking and I believe till this day that being the only girl, and the firstborn for that matter, made me the hardworking, patient and loving person I am today,” she says.

She graduated with an honours degree in accounting from the University of Namibia and went on to study a postgraduate course in accounting sciences at the University of Johannesburg.

Her job description as a senior audit assistant entails performing audit work while assisting the junior audit assistants and also performing tasks and activities which will assist with her continuous professional development.

Ashipala says it is a very demanding career.

“The workload we encounter when we do our postgraduate diploma as well as during articles, the long working hours and tight audit deadlines. The expectations that come with being an audit trainee, for example, people expect you to be this smart person who knows a bit of everything,” she says.

Through all these challenges, prayer was the one thing, apart from a good support system, that kept her motivated. “When I was a little girl, I promised myself to be the best version of myself and to make my mother proud in each and everything I do,” she says.

But every cloud has a silver lining, and her greatest accomplishment so far is being part of the greatest professional services brand, Deloitte.

Working at Deloitte, her biggest rewards are gaining knowledge, experience and exposure within a short period.

Her day normally starts with reading emails, offering to make coffee or tea for a teammate, ­organising and attending meetings if requested by the manager, and then passionately auditing the day away.

In the next five years Ashipala sees herself passing her board exams, completing her audit articles and then finally realising her dream of becoming a chartered accountant.

It has been her lifelong dream to become a chartered accountant and passing the professional examination is mandatory in order to achieve that.

One thing she would tell her younger self is to be herself and that hard work has never killed anyone. If she had one thing that she could change in the world, it would be to fill the world with more love.

“My advice to anyone reading this article is to be yourself, stay true to who you are. I would further ­encourage people to take care of themselves, especially their mental and emotional health. Lastly, hard work has never killed anyone so take time to work on your dreams, even if it means going AWOL,” she says.

New Public Procurement Act to address loopholes

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New Public Procurement Act to address loopholesNew Public Procurement Act to address loopholesProper consultations lead to effective implementation Input from the public entities, business communities and other interested stakeholders are very vital. Through the consultations, it was realised that certain provisions of the Act need to be amended in order to strengthen governance issues. Tonateni Shidhudhu, Spokesperson. Ministry of Finance. PHILLEPUS UUSIKU

Strengthening reviewing of the bidding process, efficiency among the Accounting Officers in taking decisions and delegation of power as well as transparency in the public procurement process are some of the issues that the Ministry of Finance, Procurement Policy Unit (PPU) are keen to address.

In effort to improve the effectiveness of the implementation of the law and its institutional arrangements, the ministry’s PPU is currently working on the amendments to the Public Procurement Act, 2015 (Act No. 15 of 2015, which came into effect on 01 April 2017.

According to Tonateni Shidhudhu, spokesperson of the ministry, more public consultations are scheduled to take place this month in order to obtain input from various stakeholders on how to make the legislation more effective.

“Through the consultations, it was realised that certain provisions of the Act need to be amended in order to strengthen governance issues around the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN)”, he said.

Shidhudhu notes that the CPBN is currently made up of 9 board members appointed by the Minister of Finance, Iipumbu Shiimi. The chairperson and deputy chairperson are appointed on a five-year term on a full-time basis, while the other 7 board members are part time, and serve for three years.

Responsibilities

The chairperson and deputy chairperson are also responsible for administrative issues of the institution, which is sometimes becomes a challenge when they have to present their matters to the board where they also serve as chairperson and deputy chairperson, he added.

It is proposed that this arrangement be changed and employ an administrative head who will act as the chief executive officer (CEO). If that amendment is anything to go by, then the chairperson and deputy will also become part-time like other board members.

“We wish to inform the public that the Act is going to be amended and public consultations are scheduled to start on the 08th March 2021.

Due to Covid-19, the consultations will be done virtually and we would like to request the public to take interest in these consultations because this is a very important piece of legislation in the development of our country. Input from the public entities, business communities and other interested stakeholders are very vital before the draft is taken to parliament,” he said.-phillep@nmh.com.na

Zim expects maize output to more than triple

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Zim expects maize output to more than triple Zim expects maize output to more than triple Zimbabwe expects to harvest up to 2.8 million tonnes of the maize this year, three times 2020 output thanks to higher than usual rainfall, official data showed on Wednesday.

The southern African nation endured devastating droughts in the past two years, which cut maize harvest to 900 000 tonnes in 2020, half its annual requirements.

But better rainfall, which has also boosted the country's dam capacity, will enable farmers to reap more this year, the ministry of information said in a post-cabinet statement.

"For planning purposes an estimated national production of 2.5 to 2.8 million metric tonnes of maize has been based on the promising bumper harvest in 2021," the statement said.

Higher maize output would be good news for President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government, which has projected that the economy is set to rebound after last year's recession brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and drought.

Farmers were expected to deliver 1.8 million tonnes of their maize to the state-owned grains company, which has the monopoly to buy maize in Zimbabwe.

The government has set a producer price of 32 000 Zimbabwe dollars (US$381) per tonne for white maize, higher than the South African May white maize futures contract, which closed at R3 151 (US$212) on Tuesday, in an effort to encourage more farmers to grow maize. - Nampa/Reuters

EDITORIAL

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EDITORIALEDITORIAL“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” This powerful observation by Anglo-American poet Wystan Hugh Auden reminds us of exactly why government needs all our support for its plan to construct multibillion-dollar desalination infrastructure and tap water directly for the sea.

Oman in the Middle East relies on desalination because the extreme scarcity of water leaves few other options.

The country has a total of nine large desalination plants, plus 47 small ones, which the government says supply about 86% of the country’s potable water.

Other Arabian Peninsula nations such as Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have poured their massive oil wealth into plants that transform seawater into a steady supply for their growing populations.

Namibia is the driest country in Sub-Saharan Africa and, as proven over the years, we cannot continue to rely on erratic rainfall. The long dry spells have devastated our economy – and our people - for way too long and it’s time something decisive is done.

Government’s poor record of investment into water infrastructure could be rectified within the blink of an eye if the planned desalination plant is constructed. And since government coffers are as dry as a novice comedian’s humour, there is nothing wrong with approaching rich investors like Rashid Sardarov to pump in money, as long as everything is above board.

Taxi union wants 10% increase

Previous EDITORIAL
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Taxi union wants 10% increaseTaxi union wants 10% increaseJanuarie wants ‘apartheid’ law challenged The NTTU president said the recent petrol increase – by 80 cents per litre for both petrol and diesel - far exceeds the price of taxi fare per passenger. ELLANIE SMIT







WINDHOEK

The taxi union wants a 10% increase in taxi fares, effective 15 March. Currently, the taxi fare is N$12.

Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) president Werner Januarie yesterday gave the transport ministry notice of the increase, and said he would be challenging the Road Transport Act of 1977 in the Windhoek High Court, which he claims is an ‘apartheid law’.

In a letter addressed to transport minister John Mutorwa, he said the petrol increase on Wednesday far exceeds the price of taxi fare per passenger.

The price of both petrol and diesel increased by 80 cents a litre this month. New fuel prices at Walvis Bay have been set at N$12.65 per litre of petrol, and N$12.68 per litre of diesel.

Januarie said the increase in taxi fare is done in compliance with section 12 (3) of the Road Transport Act.

“Be strongly advised that very soon your law that you useless elements in government love and adore so much will be challenged in the High Court of Namibia, together with the unjust, unconstitutional high traffic fines by non-other than yours truly,” Januarie wrote.

The first motion on this matter will be brought before court on 19 March.

‘Dehumanising’ law

The NTTU president said the Road Transport Act is “dehumanising” employed taxi drivers, as they have no social protection.

Januarie, who has since 2013 been advocating for the establishment of the Public Passenger Road Transport Bill, said while Parliament was informed about the Bill in 2019 and while Mutorwa claimed it would reach the National Assembly last year, no such progress has been made.

“Hopefully the court will give a listening ear to hear those sections of my application dealing with your apartheid law as well as your unlawful and unconstitutional traffic fines,” he wrote.

‘Unwarranted personal attacks’

In a reply to Januarie, Mutorwa said the ministry, through its lawyers, is ready to argue the case in court.

He further said despite Januarie’s unfounded and unwarranted personal insults, a written response would be prepared clearly highlighting the progress with regards to the Public Passenger Road Transport Bill.

The minister said the Bill is currently with legal drafters after it was approved last September by the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.

He added that the Road Transportation Board of Namibia should also clarify the “alleged” taxi fare increases.

Climbing her way up

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Climbing her way upClimbing her way up Toini Shikonga is an inspiration as she struggled to get work just like many other young Namibians. She worked as a security guard and never gave up; her talent was spotted by Pupkewitz Megabuild. She now works in their IT department. Wetumwene Shikage



Shikonga was born and raised in Windhoek by her parents and she is the eldest of her siblings. Shikonga attended Mandume Primary School and A Shipena Secondary School and completed tertiary education at the International University of Management (IUM). Upon attaining her degree in business information systems, it was hard to get a permanent job in that area. She then settled for being a security guard at Omega Security Services in Windhoek. She was able to make some money to look after her siblings because her parents moved to the northern part of Namibia.

Shikonga is a junior IT technician whose duties include maintaining and repairing hardware equipment, maintaining the network environment, providing basic support and troubleshooting the software setup and installation, general housekeeping of the computer room and daily check-ups of the data centres.

Her biggest challenge is assisting computer users or clients through phone calls. Phone calls are not very effective, she says. Communication between her and the client gets difficult until she logs onto their system remotely to understand what the person on the other end is saying.

Shikonga describes a typical day in the office as strategic. “I always kick off my day with the server room check-ups, then attend to tickets assigned to me that determine whether I must visit the branch or deal with it remotely, monitor our branches’ network status, handle general user queries via phone calls and support my fellow senior technicians,” she said.

She added that having the opportunity to learn new things every day and taking initiatives makes her feel appreciated and heard in the friendly working environment.

Having the opportunity to work in an IT environment, dominated by men makes her genuinely happy and gives her courage to continue doing her best at any task at hand. Shikonga encourages the youth and those aspiring to follow careers that require attention to detail. “Life is not what you see but requires passion and determination. Nothing comes easy in life. Believe in yourself and the future, keep doing what you can do best for you.”

In future, Shikonga says she would want to own an IT company which can branch out all around Namibia but mostly in the rural areas.

“People in rural areas need support in many ways and opening an IT company will benefit them. I would like to offer short courses at an affordable price as we know IT is important, yet expensive. Technology is the future and if we equip the youth with technology then the future will be bright.”

Shikonga says if she could change one thing about the world, she would eliminate human greed. “Human greed is at the core of most of our world’s biggest problems. Greed is like a seed that grows into a poisonous vine, eventually dominating the human soul like an infectious disease, spreading to every corner of society ultimately, blinding us from the truth,” she says.

If you continue to work hard, success will follow

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If you continue to work hard, success will follow If you continue to work hard, success will follow Deloitte auditing firm produces stars in the financial industry Alma Atta Ashipala is a senior assistant at Deloitte Namibia. Monique Adams

The soft-spoken Ashipala was born and raised in Walvis Bay, where she attended Naraville Primary School and Swakopmund Secondary School.

The young aspiring professional was raised in a Christian home where she was the only girl among boys and had to take on a lot of responsibility at an early age.

“Growing up, I did all the cleaning and cooking and I believe till this day that being the only girl, and the firstborn for that matter, made me the hardworking, patient and loving person I am today,” she says.

She graduated with an honours degree in accounting from the University of Namibia and went on to study a postgraduate course in accounting sciences at the University of Johannesburg.

Her job description as a senior audit assistant entails performing audit work with assisting the junior audit assistants and also performing tasks and activities which will assist with her continuous professional development.

Ashipala says it is a very demanding career.

“The workload we encounter when we do our postgraduate diploma as well as during articles, the long working hours and tight audit deadlines. The expectations that come with being an audit trainee, for example, people expect you to be this smart person who knows a bit of everything,” she says.

Through all these challenges, prayer was the one thing, apart from a good support system, that kept her motivated. “When I was a little girl, I promised myself to be the best version of myself and to make my mother proud in each and everything I do,” she says.

But every cloud has a silver lining, and her greatest accomplishment so far is being part of the greatest professional services brand, Deloitte.

Working at Deloitte, her biggest rewards are gaining knowledge, experience and exposure within a short period.

Her day normally starts with reading email, offering to make coffee or tea for a teammate, organising and attending meetings if requested by the manager, and then passionately auditing the day away.

In the next five years Ashipala sees herself passing her board exams, completing her audit articles and then finally realising her dream of becoming a chartered accountant.

It has been her lifelong dream to become a chartered accountant and passing the professional examination is mandatory in order to achieve that.

One thing she would tell her younger self is to be herself and that hard work has never killed anyone. If she had one thing that she could change in the world, it would be to fill the world with more love.

“My advice to anyone reading this article is to be yourself, stay true to who you are. I would further encourage people to take care of themselves, especially their mental and emotional health. Lastly, hard work has never killed anyone so take time to work on your dreams, even if it means going AWOL,” she says.

City assets attached over pay dispute

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City assets attached over pay disputeCity assets attached over pay dispute OGONE TLHAGE



WINDHOEK

The sheriff of the High Court has received the go-ahead to auction off City of Windhoek assets after its failure to adhere to a labour commissioner ruling.

A pay dispute arose when 16 City Police employees - all superintendents - approached the Office of the Labour Commissioner citing unfair discrimination and labour practices over not being paid in line with their rank.

In a letter by labour ministry executive director Bro-Matthew Shinguadja, the sheriff had been instructed to go ahead with the sale of property belonging to the Windhoek City Council.

“This letter serves to inform your office to proceed with the notice of sale of properties of Windhoek City Council. The attached items should be sold at the next public auction in execution,” he wrote.

When asked what remedial measures were sought, City Police chief Abraham Kanime said the matter was in the hands of the court and refused to comment.

‘Unreasonably delayed’

The employees, led by Peter Kandjumbwa, demanded to be graded like other sectional heads, of whom a certain Superintendent Vatileni was ranked at a D1 pay grade and remunerated N$81 537 per month, including a field allowance, as was approved by the then accounting head Robert Kahimise.

In his analysis, arbitrator Kahitire Humu found that it was clear that the CEO [Kahimise] had agreed that there were no inconsistencies and grave discrepancies in the applicants’ remuneration.

“The proposed salary structure was approved and alignment thereof is unreasonably delayed. [The] respondent [the Windhoek City Council that served from 2015 to 2020] did not make up a proper defence against the claim brought by the complainants,” Humu said.

RCC evicted from office over N$6m

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RCC evicted from office over N$6mRCC evicted from office over N$6mNPTH locks contractor headquarters over rental bill Things are looking even more dire for the company already languishing in judicial management after its employees were locked out due to a growing rental bill of a building it previously owned. OGONE TLHAGE







WINDHOEK

When Roads Contractor Company (RCC) employees showed up for work yesterday, they were denied access to their office building in an incident that has laid bare problems the company is seized with.

The offices were locked because RCC failed to pay its landlord and sister public enterprise, Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holdings (NPTH), rent for the building previously owned by RCC, but which became NPTH property after rescuing it from repossession by Bank Windhoek over debts.

The RCC head office, used as collateral for a loan the company took from Bank Windhoek, was attached by the bank in 2018, but NPTH stepped in, paying N$190 million to rescue the property and prevent it from being repossessed.

The building was then rented back to RCC, which has allegedly failed to make a single payment in this regard.

Numerous requests for the company to pay fell on deaf ears, Namibian Sun is told.

NPTH CEO Kristofin Itembu confirmed that the RCC had been locked out and cited the unpaid rent as reason. The RCC owes NPTH N$6.2 million.

“I cannot comment on the matter, it is with the legal department currently,” she further said.

The premises were valued at N$100 million in 2019.

‘Nightmare’

When approached for comment, RCC acting CEO Seth Herunga said the matter was in the hands of the company’s lawyers.

“NPTH has closed the building. The entire RCC employees were locked out until further notice.”

Officials of the beleaguered entity had lamented the lack of support from government and pointed to rescue plans presented to Cabinet to save the ailing entity.

“Government is not paying attention to RCC; the solution was on the table,” officials – who spoke on condition of anonymity – told Namibian Sun.

The RCC’s former board chairperson Fritz Jacobs presented government with a rescue plan that would avail the company N$570 million in the form of a loan from Chinese company Nantong Sanjian. In exchange, Nantong would have a stake in bids worth N$4.1 billion awarded to the RCC.

“The Chinese solution was the best solution; the best way to sustain ourselves. It is just a nightmare now,” the officials said.

Salary conundrum

They also decried government funding that had been provided to the RCC to help pay for salaries.

“The budget provided for is only for four months, but they forget that there is a Cabinet resolution that RCC employees should be paid until a lasting solution has been found.”

Namibian Sun previously reported that the company’s employees had at one stage been paid from government’s contingency fund. The fund is meant for emergencies.

“Until what time will it sustain us? Government must make a final decision on liquidation,” the sources said.

Public enterprise minister Leon Jooste said consultations were ongoing regarding RCC.

“We are engaged in consultations to identify a long-term solution and will inform stakeholders in due time,” he said.

Angolan refugees refuse to leave Osire

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Angolan refugees refuse to leave OsireAngolan refugees refuse to leave Osire JANA-MARI SMITH



WINDHOEK

A group of 538 Angolan nationals living at Osire refugee camp are at legal loggerheads with the Namibian government, which they claim is trying to forcefully evict them and dump them on the streets.

Government has argued that the individuals are living at Osire unlawfully after their refugee status lapsed nearly nine years ago in 2012, and are refusing all efforts to integrate into Namibian society or return to Angola.

“The applicants are refusing to cooperate with the measures put in place for local integration and they have been making demands which they are not entitled to,” commissioner of refugees at the immigration ministry, Likius Valombola, said in an affidavit.

He underlined that the group is demanding housing or plots as well as money from a fund that never existed.

“The former Angolan refugees are no longer entitled to reside at Osire refugee settlement and they are no longer refugees,” he explained, as per a 2012 United Nations agreement.

Moreover, he underlined that the option to integrate into Namibian society instead of returning to Angola does not entitle them to free land.

“They were specifically informed they would not be provided with houses or plots or lands,” he said.

Integration ‘fiasco’

A group of eight Angolan men have launched a lawsuit against the Prime Minister, the immigration ministry and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in South Africa on behalf of the 538-strong group.

They are not only demanding land and a restoration of aid and refugee status, but also accuse the government of sending in the army in 2018 to chase them from the camp.

They are further asking the court to order government to cease violent threats against them.

“We, the family of 538 remaining former Angolan refugees, will never leave Osire refugee settlement until the full implementation of the integration process with the allocation of houses or building materials for each family,” they said in court documents.

They said their integration has “been a big fiasco” and claim “the reality on the ground is laughable”.

Stubborn

In his affidavit, Valombola highlighted that the 2012 UNHCR decision to withdraw refugee status from the Angolans gave them a choice to stay and integrate or return home.

“They were informed that the Namibian government and UNHCR would not provide or acquire land or plots for them, they would have to acquire the land or plots themselves.”

The group was also informed that if they could not sustain themselves, they should approach the United Nations for assistance to be repatriated to Angola.

“Former refugees are not entitled to more than Namibian citizens are entitled to. They must comply with the laws of Namibia like any other person in Namibia,” Valombola stressed.

He said the former refugees are unlawfully staying at the camp, but that government has at this stage not removed them as discussions are still underway. He denied that the army has been used at any stage to evict them.

Money

The Angolans allege that the UNHCR gave US$80 million to Namibia to assist with the integration, but government denies this.

In August 2020, the UNHCR confirmed to the home affairs ministry that no such sum was ever budgeted for or handed over by them to Namibia relating to the Angolans.

Leonard Zulu, the UNHCR South African representative, pointed out that “what is important is that the former refugees from Angola [are] asking for assistance with their local integration, and for this UNHCR is ready to help them in line with a government-approved programme”.

The group is representing itself in the case, while government attorney Heather Harker is leading the defence.

On Wednesday, the case was before High Court judge Kobus Miller for a management conference hearing. No new court date has been announced.

Pandemic banking

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Pandemic bankingPandemic banking It is financial results season and the impact of Covid-19 and measures to contain its spread are obvious from the performance of local companies. Yesterday, both FirstRand Namibia, with FNB Namibia as its flagship brand, and Letshego Holdings Namibia released their interim and annual results respectively, showing a profit knock. Capricorn Group, which includes Bank Windhoek, last week reported a profit of about N$428.1 million for the six months ended 31 December 2020, a drop of around 23% or N$129.1 million year-on-year. Photo George Pagan III on Unsplash

Covid gobbles FirstRand Nam earnings

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Covid gobbles FirstRand Nam earningsCovid gobbles FirstRand Nam earningsInterim profit down nearly N$60 mln A drop in net interest income and a jump in impairment charges shaved 9% off the locally-listed group’s profit in its past half-year. The economic impact of Covid-19 continued to place acute pressure on the group’s performance for the six months ended December 2020. – FirstRand Namibia Jo-Maré Duddy – FirstRand Namibia estimates that it lost about N$185 million in earnings in the six months ended 31 December 2020 compared to its earnings run rate before the lockdown in March last year.

Releasing its latest unaudited interim results yesterday, the locally-listed group said its estimations of earnings lost include decreased net interest income (NII) of N$185 million for the half-year, decreased non-interest revenue (NIR) of N$8 million and higher impairments of N$156 million.

“The economic impact of Covid-19 continued to place acute pressure on the group’s performance for the six months ended December 2020,” FirstRand Namibia said.

The locally-listed group reported a profit of about N$564.9 million for the period under review, some N$58.8 million or 9.4% less than in the corresponding half-year in 2019.

The drop of 300 basis points in the repo and prime lending rates contributed to FirstRand Namibia’s interest and similar income plunging by 24% or some N$491 million from nearly N$2.04 billion in the 2019 half-year to nearly N$1.55 billion.

Commenting on the figures, Cirrus Securities pointed out that the drop was countered by a decrease of nearly 35% in interest expense, resulting in FirstRand Namibia’s NII only reducing by 14% to N$907.5 million.

IMPAIRMENTS

Cirrus said FirstRand Namibia emptier profit barrel was mainly the result of the drop in NII and a spike in impairment charges.

The group allowed for an impairment charge of about N$150.6 million in its latest half-year, N$32.6 million or 27.6% more than in the same six months in 2019.

The increased impairment charge results in a normalised credit loss ratio of 196 basis points (bps), which is “significantly higher than the credit loss ratio of 72 bps in the first half-year of 2020 and even higher than the 182 bps of 2020 financial year”.

According to FirstRand Namibia’s latest report, Stage 3 impairments, or advances that were credit impaired, at the end of last year totalled nearly N$132.3 million, up around 33% or N$32.6 million from 2019.

Stage 1 and 2 impairments remained flat at about N$18.3 million.

“The unprecedented economic stress created by the pandemic required the group to offer payment relief solutions for customers. The group provided debt relief on N$2.3 billion of performing (stage 1 and stage 2) advances, the Covid-19 relief advances representing 7.3% of total book as at 31 December 2020,” FirstRand Namibia said.

FIGURES

FirstRand Namibia’s total advances at amortised cost for the past half-year was about N$31.4 billion, compared to N$31.95 billion in the same six months in 2019. The group included a loss allowance of N$1.4 billion in its latest results, nearly N$587.4 million or 72% more compared to the same time in 2019. FirstRand Namibia’s total advances for the period under review is therefore around N$30.3 billion, down about 3.7% on an annual basis.

According to Cirrus, the annual decrease in advances highlights “a lack of (tangible) demand”. This was coupled with supply constraints, due to a risk reward mismatch in pricing brought about by decreased administered interest rates,” the analysts said.

Deposits increased 1.6% to N$36.5 billion. “In recent years, deposit growth has outpaced advances growth and thus balance sheets of Namibian banks are healthier now. This affords banks the opportunity to better manage their costs, as they are not forced to pay up for funding,” Cirrus said.

Non-interest revenue contributed 52.4% to total income, the highest contribution since the first half-year of 2018, according to Cirrus. “The non interest income growth of 3.4% to N$1.04 billion aided the overall group performance and provided a base for overall earnings.”

FirstRand Namibia said its transactional volumes trajectory has rebounded, on an aggregate basis, and are back to pre-Covid levels. Total financial transactions were up 6.3%, while banking app transactions spiked by 112%.

Cirrus said FirstRand Namibia’s operating expenses were well contained, decreasing 4.6% to N$1.01 billion. “Despite this, the group cost-to-income ratio deteriorated to 51.1% from 50.9%,” they pointed out.

The analysts said FirstRand Namibia remained well capitalised throughout the period, with levels above the minimum regulatory requirements. The capital adequacy ratio was 18.9% and common tier equity 1 (CET 1) capital was 10.5% at the end of last year.

FirstRand Namibia declared an interim cash dividend of 94c per share, 10c per share or 9.6% down from the corresponding dividend in 2019.

OUTLOOK

FirstRand Namibia said it entered the Covid-19 crisis in a strong liquidity position as it had increased liquid asset holdings to proactively manage its liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) requirements. “This, together with the group’s strong deposit growth, allowed Group Treasury to successfully navigate tightening liquidity conditions following the onset of the Covid-19 crisis,” it said.

It continued: “Trends post lockdown are improving as the economic recovery slowly emerges, however, activity levels remained muted on a relative basis and balance sheet growth was subdued.”

FirstRand Namibia said going into year 2021 “we do see more reason for optimism as the global rollout of several effective vaccines makes progress around the world, and our own government makes plans to receive and distribute these medicines”.

FirstRand Namibia is listed on the Local Index of the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX). It closed Wednesday at N$23.07 per share. The share price has gained 0.13% since the end of last year.

Spike in Letshego Nam’s impairment charge

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Spike in Letshego Nam’s impairment chargeSpike in Letshego Nam’s impairment charge The group remains well placed to grow revenues through ongoing innovation and pursuit of its inclusive finance strategy. – Letshego Holdings Namibia Jo-Maré Duddy – Letshego Holdings Namibia’s (LHN) impairment charge for the year ended 31 December 2020 spiked by about 239% on an annual basis, contributing to the locally-listed group reporting a drop of nearly N$60 million in profit compared to its previous book-year.

The group yesterday released its unaudited annual results on the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX), which showed a profit of about N$341.4 million, down nearly 15% year-on-year.

Its impairment charge rose from about N$9.2 million in 2019 to nearly N$31.3 million in 2020. An impairment charge usually reflects a fall in value or worse-than-expected performance of the asset.

Also impacting profit was a restatement in the annual results of 2018 and 2019 to rectify a loan to preference share conversion transaction done in March 2018.

The reclassification of the loan from the parent company, Botswana-based Letshego Holdings Limited, as inter-company funding and not preference share funding resulted in interest expense increasing in the 2019 and 2018 financial years. This is, however, more tax efficient and beneficial to all shareholders, Cirrus Securities commented yesterday.

IMPAIRMENTS

Cirrus said due to LHN’s deduction-at-source business model, the group’s impairments have historically been kept to a minimum. The majority of the group’s clients are government employees, whose monthly debt to LHN is deducted from their salaries.

Cirrus believes the increase in impairments is due to LHN not charging insurance income since late in its 2019 financial year until April 2020.

“With the increase in impairments, the credit loss ratio increased to 94 basis points [bps] from 34 bps on 31 December 2019 and 35 bps on 30 June 2020,” the analysts said.

INCOME, ADVANCES

By not charging insurance income for a large part of its 2020 financial year, non-interest revenue decreased substantially, Cirrus said.

“In the 2019 financial year, non-interest revenue (fee and other operating income) made up 27.1% of total operating income at N$232.1 million. Over the last twelve months, this decreased to N$174.6 million resulted in non-interest revenue only contributing 22% to total operating income. This has, however, increased from the interim results,” they said.

LHN gained market share in its past financial year, Cirrus pointed out.

“LHN managed to increase gross advances to customers by 23.4% to N$3.6 billion. This is in line with management’s strategy and should be complimented,” they said.

However, Cirrus added: “Given that outstanding advances on 30 June 2020 totalled N$3.1 billion, the N$480 million worth of new advances will have been extended at much lower interest rates. The decreased interest income has, however, been countered by the increased advances and resulted in interest income remaining flat.”

Compared to its 2019 financial year, LHN’s deposits increased substantially – from around N$43.4 million to nearly N$187.9 million.

“We believe this is due to the lower interest rate environment and Letshego Bank offering more attractive interest rates. By implication LHN is paying up, which would hamper the net interest margin going forward,” Cirrus said.

‘MARKET CONFIDENCE’

“Although the local economic conditions and coronavirus (Covid-19) have affected market confidence and consumer spending patterns, the group remains well placed to grow revenues through ongoing innovation and pursuit of its inclusive finance strategy,” LHN said.

The directors have evaluated the financial impact of Covid-19 on the group and cannot identify a going concern risk within the medium term, it added.

LHN did not declare a dividend with the release of yesterday’s unaudited financials. It said a notice pertaining to dividends will be made at the time of the released of the audited financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2020, but made no mention of a date.

LHN is listed on the Local Index of the NSX. It ended Wednesday at N$2.20 per share. The share price has fallen by nearly 17.3% since the end of last year.