Sunday, 30 March 2014

Self-Drive Camping Etiquette

Most campsites in Namibia have a designated fire pit or place where previous campers made fire. Try to stick to one place otherwise the camp will be littered with leftover coals. Bring your own firewood, peferably charcoal. Never collect wood around the camp; it is simply not sustainable. Before you go to bed, make sure your fire is put out completely. A wind during the night could cause the fire to spread.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Hardap Dam sluices opened

Heavy rains over the catchment area of the Fish River during the past two days have resulted in the
opening of the sluices of the Hardap Dam.
The level of the dam stood at 44% at 08h00 on 24 March, but the next morning it increased to 56%. At 15h00 that afternoon, NamWater decided to open the sluices of the dam when its level stood at 69,5% with some water still on its way via the Fish River. The water was released against 120 cubic metres per second and on Wednesday morning the dam's level stood at 74,7%. It is expected that the sluices would be closed again in the afternoon of Wednesday.
Since Monday, 24 March, 97 million cubic metres of water flowed into the dam, while 8,2 million cubic metres of water were released into the Fish River during the past two days. The total inflow of the Hardap Dam since December 2013 was 155 million cubic metres of water. The sluices of the dam were last opened on 29 March 2012.
To avoid any flooding at Mariental, a decision was taken earlier that the level of the dam should not be more than 70% and that the sluices be opened at that stage to release water at a slow pace.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Transportation relief with new Trans-Kalahari railway

Once completed in 2016 the Trans-Kalahari railway would serve as an alternative relief to the already congested corridors within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and grant landlocked countries much-needed access to European, Asian and American markets.

The railway connection being developed at a cost of about N$100 billion (about US$9.2 billion), to connect Botswana to the Atlantic Port of Walvis Bay in Namibia, would ensure that the SADC vision for regional integration is realized, according to the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources of Botswana, Onkokame Kitso  Mokaila. The two countries signed the agreement last week in Walvis Bay.

The project is expected to create jobs, new business and trade opportunities for citizens of both countries. “Trans-Kalahari Railway is so important to SADC and Africa, since it will further afford alternate transportation routes for landlocked countries such as Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It will be ideal for the exportation of bulk commodities destined for Europe, Asia and America,” he said. According to Mokaila, Namibia and Botswana are also aware of the environmental challenges associated with coal and coal generated electricity, but went on to say that coal will be a source of fuel for power generation for years to come. “It is in this regard that the development of TKR and commodity handling facilities in Walvis Bay will go a long way in facilitating the development of the estimated 212 billion tonnes of coal resource in Botswana in power generation and others,” Mokaila explained.

He said with the ever growing demand for power in the region and elsewhere, the Walvis Bay commodity terminal is expected to handle about 65 million metric tonnes of coal per year.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba and late president Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana received plaudits for taking a personal interest in the realisation of the railway line.  “Was it not for the two presidents and other important role-players that were instrumental toward the realisation of the project, we would not have been signing this agreement today,” said Mokaila. Namibian Minister of Mines and Energy, Erkki Ngmintina said the signing of the Trans-Kalahari Railway agreement provides an added impetus and a new platform for people of both countries to lay the groundwork for industrialisation.

“It does not hamper existing gateways, but creates a new path for new and additional role-players,” Nghimtina said. He added that the two countries will further consult and engage to assist the technical ministries as the implementation of the project continues.

High number of visitors to a new Windhoek museum

The National Museum says it is pleased with the number of Namibian and foreign visitors to the newly opened Independence Memorial Museum.
According to information provided by the museum yesterday, more than 1 800 people visited the new museum last weekend – about 80% of them Namibians.
“Many Namibians of all parts of our society were bringing their children to learn about Namibia’s history, as just below 22.5% of the visitors were under 14 years of age,” said the museum.
It said perceptions that the exhibitions are biased and address only a specific cross-section of Namibian society cannot be reconciled with visitor statistics, as foreign visitors and Namibians of European descent constituted just over 29% of visitors.
“That visitor component spent as much time in the display galleries as other Namibians. Despite the rainy conditions and many people going to church or shops on Sunday morning, more than 400 visitors still visited the galleries.”
According to the museum, informal exit surveys and comments registered at the museum confirmed the satisfaction and pleasure that Namibians and other visitors derived from the exhibitions.
It said the numbers and types of visitors to the museum suggest that the galleries are popular.
The Independence Memorial Museum was opened on March 20 by President Hifikepunye Pohamba, who also unveiled the adjacent Sam Nujoma and genocide statues.
More than 700 invited guests attended the opening, many of whom visited the exhibitions.
Visitors during the Independence Day long weekend consisted of 1 452 Namibians, 350 foreign visitors, 406 children and 510 people of European descent.
The museum is open from 09:30 to 19:00, with the last visitors allowed in at 18:00 because the average time spent by visitors is about an hour. Museum guides are on duty throughout the day to direct and inform visitors.
According to the museum, entry will remain free for the first three to six months, after which entry fees will be charged to fund the upkeep of the galleries.
A contract for running the restaurant on the fourth floor is still pending, and it is closed except for special events.

Namibia at Kopenhagen fur auction

All eyes are on the outcome of the Kopenhagen fur auction, scheduled for April 10 to gauge the performance of Namibian Swakara pelts. Namibia has been fetching record prices at the Kopenhagen fur auction over the past two years, and last year shipped pelts worth N$39 million, in a collection that was billed as the largest and most valuable ever for Namibia.

Last week Namibia shipped 68 500 Swakara pelts to the auction in Copenhagen, Denmark. Swakara pelts are sold exclusively at the April and September Kopenhagen fur auctions. At the previous auction held in the Danish capital, Agra sold 100 percent of the Swakara pelt offering, with the highest ever average price in Namibian dollar of N$2 534.54 per pelt for a bundle of white pelts and the highest price for black pelts in Namibian dollars of N$1 856.71. Results from these auctions time and again prove that Swakara pelts remains worthy of being called Namibia’s ‘Black Diamonds’. Kopenhagen Fur is the world’s largest provider of luxury skins and pelts. Garments carrying a Kopenhagen Fur quality label have been made from fur skins that are unrivalled in quality. Only skins sold through Kopenhagen Fur and graded by Kopenhagen Fur’s graders can carry the Kopenhagen Fur quality label. Swakara is the only type of fur outside Denmark to bear the prestigious Kopenhagen Fur quality label, although sorted and graded in the House of Swakara in Windhoek.

Dagmar Honsbein, Agra ProVision’s General Manager said Swakara is a unique all-Namibian brand and has been receiving global recognition for many decades. Agra is the sole marketing agent of Swakara pelts. “Visiting the recent international fur fairs attested its value in the market. There is also sustained high demand for our product. Thus, Namibian producers, current and future, have reason to pride themselves with Swakara, proudly Namibian and eco-friendly fur, from desert to catwalk,” said Honsbein. Representatives from Agra, the Swakara Board of Namibia, the winner of the Agra/Kopenhagen Fur Quality Award, Paul Steyn, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Dr Malan Lindeque and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry, Joseph Iita will attend the April auction.

Wessel Visser, Agra’s Manager for Social Business and Services, represented Swakara at the Hong Kong International Fur Fair, which took place from 25 to 28 February. The event is renowned as the largest and most important fur trade event in the world. “Swakara was prominent at the show with its stand attracting many international fur lovers,” Visser said. He also noted that Russia accounted for 30 percent of the visitors at this international fur show, making it still the biggest buyer. From March 4 to 7 Swakara was also represented at the Milan International Fur show – Mi-Fur, Italy. At both international fur shows, exhibitors were satisfied with results albeit at lower prices, as they argued that it opened doors for new markets. Swakara fur with its velvety texture has become designers’ first choice for garments and accessories. This was evident on international catwalks, where Swakara formed an integral part of designer couture by Karl Lagerfeld, Prada, Gucci and Armani, as well as vintage collections by Elsa Schiaparelli and others, in the recent past. At the Italian Fur Fashion Night, Swakara was witnessed in couture of four out of nine designer houses’ presentations, especially brown and white Swakara received recognition on the catwalk. The Agra/Kopenhagen Fur Quality Award, sponsored by Agra and Kopenhagen Fur, gives recognition to Swakara producers for selling high quality pelts over time. Paul Steyn, the 2013 winner was rewarded with a trip to Copenhagen to witness a Kopenhagen fur auction.

Fish River Canyon hiking trail is open after good rains

The abundant rain and the opening of the Hardap Dam’s sluices mean that the Fish River Canyon hiking route, which remained closed last year because of drought, will likely open in May.
According to the park warden of the of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld, Mendes Vinte, they are very thankful for the good rain that has been received in the area.
He explained that last year the hiking route in the canyon had to be closed for the entire season due to the drought.
The hiking season is open during the cooler months, from May 1 to the end of September, and because there was no water in the canyon the route had to be closed, he said.
According to Vinte the water in the Fish River Canyon will be just enough to last until May when the hiking season starts.
Should the rains continue throughout April, there is a likelihood of flooding in the canyon, which is also dangerous for hikers.
According to him all the hikers who had booked last year had to be rebooked for this season.

High water levels
Massive amounts of water have been released from the Hardap Dam after the sluices were opened on Tuesday afternoon.
By Wednesday afternoon the dam level was still above 70% and the sluices were still open.
On Tuesday dam level rose from 44% to 68% in a matter of 18 hours and NamWater announced that it would open the sluices at 15:00. At that time there had already been an inflow of 54.6 million cubic metres into the dam. Despite the fact that the sluices were opened on Tuesday, the dam level had increased to 74% by yesterday morning after the dam received another 31.4 million cubic metres of inflow.
By yesterday afternoon the sluices were still open and the inflow into the dam stood at 500 cubic metres per second, while the release was 500 cubic metres per second.
NamWater keeps the Hardap Dam level as close as possible to 70% of full capacity to minimise the risk of flooding.
Farmers, motorists and residents along the Fish River were cautioned not to cross the river, as it is now more than a metre deep.
Good rainfall over the past few days has also resulted in significant inflow into other dams around the country.

Намибийские алмазы дороже камней из Зимбабве и Ботсваны

Представитель Намибии заявил, что алмазы, добываемые на морских месторождениях страны, могут продаваться по ценам, в 14 раз превышающим цены на зимбабвийские алмазы и втрое выше цен на сырье из Ботсваны.
Агентство Bloomberg процитировало заявление комиссара по делам алмазной промышленности Намибии Кеннеди Хамутенья (Kennedy Hamutenya) о том, что «чистые и безупречные» алмазы, добываемые на дне Атлантического океана, реализуются в среднем по цене от $450 до $700 за карат.
Как заявляет Хамутенья, эти цены значительно превосходят цены ботсванских алмазов, которые продаются в среднем по $150 за карат, и зимбабвийского алмазного сырья, стоимость которого составляет менее $50 за карат.
Хамутенья добавил, что 98% алмазов, добываемых на территории Намибии, имеют ювелирное качество.
«Относительно небольшие объемы добычи компенсируются высоким качеством алмазов», - сказал Хамутенья, добавив,  что запасы алмазов на морских месторождениях Намибии возле атлантического побережья оцениваются в 80 млн каратов, а их разработка может осуществляться десятилетия и после 2050 года.
Комиссар по делам алмазной промышленности отметил, что лицензия на алмазодобычу компании Namdeb (совместного предприятия правительства Намибии с De Beers) будет с высокой вероятностью продлена.
«Мы полагаем, что Namdeb хочет продлить действие лицензии на добычу алмазов на последующие 25 лет, и единственным объяснением этому может служить обнаружение крупных алмазных месторождений», - говорит Хамутенья.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Demanding better perks for Namibian MPs

Members of Parliament have, for the second consecutive year, appealed for better perks such as housing and vehicles allowances as well as salaries because they are national leaders.
This plea, made during discussions on the budget in the National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday, comes about a year after President Hifikepunye Pohamba granted the MPs a 15% salary increase.

The debate was on the NA budget motivation during which all the MPs present on the day, except for two, supported the construction of the new lawmaking chamber worth N$640 million.

In his contribution to the debate, youth minister Jerry Ekandjo proposed the building of flats for MPs, especially those from outside the capital whom he said “may be squatting” because “they are doing an important job of “making laws for the country”.

“Some of them [MPs] are maybe squatting. Do not be surprised tomorrow if you see some of our colleagues looking grey because they did not take a bath,” he said, adding that MPs should live comfortably.

Ekandjo also said people should not expect MPs to buy houses in Windhoek because they are not from the city.

“We have to have flats for MPs so that they can maybe pay a limited amount, maybe for water,” Ekandjo added.

As it stands, there is no MP who earns less than N$45 000 per month. perks for MPs include transport allowances ranging from N$78 000 to N$106 000 for officials without State vehicles while ministers and deputies have Mercedes Benz vehicles.

The MPs also enjoy furniture allowances that ranges from N$31 000 to N$100 000 while the State also provides accommodation, entertainment, water and electricity allowances.

The Minister of Presidential Affairs Albert Kawana, who is also the Attorney General, backed Ekandjo’s proposal saying there is need to look after MPs, especially backbenchers, by constructing residential apartments or a “parliament village”.

“This is commendable because our honourable members are really suffering. That is why sometimes we are kept here [in Parliament] until midnight, because they are scared to go to the kambashus [shacks] where they are squatting because its very uncomfortable,” he said, adding that politicians deserve better.

“These are our national leaders. They deserve decent places. I am speaking from experience. I know where some of our colleagues stay. It’s not really conducive for a member of parliament,” he said.

DTA parliamentarian and former party vice president Philemon Moongo said MPs also want vehicles, improved subsistence and travel allowances.

“I want to live with my dignity. We have the money,” he further said.

Official documents from the Public Office Bearers Remuneration and Benefits Commission show that, after the 15% increase last year, the Prime Minister now earns N$1,2 million in non-cash and cash, an amount which is equal to N$100 000 per month.

A minister earns N$940 000 which translates to N$78 000 per month. An ordinary MP in the National Assembly earns N$620 000 which translates to around N$51 000 per month.

Deputy Minister of Justice Tommy Nambahu complained that the low salaries chase away potential politicians. “We will not attract people of quality,” he warned.

Nambahu further said the leaders’ perks should be extended to local authorities to build decent mayoral houses and cater for visitors.

“We have to inquire and query the system we inherited from the past to come up with something adequate and up to the dignity of the institution we call Parliament,” he added.

The Speaker of the National Assembly Theo-Ben Gurirab described the debate on demands for better perks as a waste of time since there is a standing committee that deals with MPs’ benefits.

Guririab said MPs who want to make comments about perks should go through that body to express their views.

This week, Gurirab defended plans for building a new chamber saying the current parliament building does not meet the growing requirements in terms of technology advances, size and functionality.

“It proves to be not only insufficient in terms of office space for both members and staff, despite the fact that every single office is being utilised to its optimum capacity, but also its structural design is no longer being supported by today’s sophisticated technology”.

Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Doreen Sioka also complained about the current parliament.

Sioka said the offices do not have toilets as opposed to where she is now working. “I have to share toilets with staff [members]. You have to queue,” she said about her experience when she was the deputy Speaker.

After being appointed as minister of gender, she discovered that the grass was greener as a minister. “I found out that my office was well equipped, even with showers. New ones with the latest designs,” she added.

The only two MPs who opposed the construction of the new parliament is Nudo MP Arnold Tjihuiko and Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) member Anton von Wietersheim.

Tjihuiko said the construction is not a priority and the Government should instead focus on building schools for the pupils who are studying under tress and repairing dilapidated hospitals.

What Namibian MPs earn (rounded off)

Prime Minister N$1,2 million

Deputy PM N$1 million

Speaker National Assembly N$1 million

Chairperson National Council N$1 million

Minister N$940 000

Deputy Minister N$865 000

MP: National Assembly N$620 000

MP: National Council N$620 000

Elephant causes damage to Hochfeld farm

An elephant bull is causing havoc and a lot of damage on Riaan Bornman’s farm ‘Delarey’ in the Hochfeld, about 200 kilometres north east of Windhoek. The area is not recognised as traditional ‘elephant country’,
Bornman, a well-known pharmacist in Swakopmund, told The Namibian that the elephant suddenly appeared and has since the beginning of March caused more than N$100 000 worth of damage to farm infrastructure, while also destroying mealie-lands and terrorising the people living on the farm.

“I am very frustrated, and the way I feel now I could shoot that animal. I have informed the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and they said they first have to go out there and compile a report to know what to do. In the meantime I have to pay for the damage,” said a frustrated Bornman.

According to him, the visits from the bull started at the beginning of March, and after destroying about ten gates, ripping down fences, felling some trees and tearing through the mealie lands, it left for a few weeks, just to return last Thursday, when it began destroying water tanks and cattle posts.

“The farm workers called me today (Wednesday 26 March) to tell me that the animal is still there, and is plundering their gardens and the mealies. I have the best mealies I’ve ever had and now this elephant is helping itself to it. The people are scared. They don’t want to stay there anymore,” said Bornman.

This is the first time he has seen or experienced an elephant on the farm – an area he says is not known for being the natural habitat of elephants.

“People talk about an elephant that softly climbs over the fences from farm to farm, and that maybe this is him. I don’t think so, considering all the fences he’s torn down here. How long will this take before it stops”?” he asked. Colgar Sikopo, Director of Regional Services and Parks Management at MET told local paper that they were aware of Bornman’s concern and that there was a team dealing with the situation.

“We will be monitoring the situation. There are other farmers who also have noted the animal but who have not complained about problems. If it however persists in its destructive behaviour on this farm, we may have no other option but to destroy it,” said Sikopo.

He said that there was no elephant population in that area currently and guessed that it may have come from the Nyae Nyae Conservancy in Tsumkwe.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Security measures to protect new statues in Windhoek

The Government will put security measures in place to protect the Genocide Memorial and Sam Nujoma statues.
The Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Jerry Ekandjo, said during discussions on the national budget for the 2014/15 financial year in the National Assembly (NA) on Monday that after government was threatened that measures will be taken to reinstate the Reiterdenkmal, the Government saw the need to put security measures in place to protect the monuments.

He, however, did not want to reveal details on the security measures to be taken.

Three German organisations are threatening to sue the government over the removal of the Reiterdenkmal.

They also said the Government risks the demolishing of anything built on the site where the Reiterdenkmal was removed to make way for its eventual reinstatement.

The Kriegsgraberfursorge, the Traditionsverband ehemaliger Schutz- und Uberseetruppen and the Memorable Order of the Tinheads group, through local law firm Andreas Vaatz and Partners, have said they will do all things necessary, including legal proceedings in the High Court of Namibia, to secure the reinstatement of the Reiterdenkmal to the same spot it was removed.

A letter from Andreas Vaatz and Partners dated 21 February 2014 addressed to the Ministry of Works and Transport said the groups are in the process of investigating the circumstances surrounding the events of the removal of the Reiterdenkmal on 23 December last year.

Cabinet decided in 2012 to remove the Reiterdenkmal as it had lost its historical significance and importance after Namibia gained independence.

The Reiterdenkmal was replaced with the Genocide Memorial and a statue of former president Sam Nujoma, and these were unveiled by President Hifikepunye Pohamba at the new Independence Memorial Museum, a stone’s throw from the Alte Feste Museum, which currently houses the Reiterdenkmal in its courtyard.

Sulfur eruptions along Namibia's shore

A scientist working for the National Aeronautic Space Agency (NASA) alerted this week to the occurrence of massive ongoing sulfur eruptions along the coast of Namibia.

Images obtained from NASA’s Earth Observatory as recently as 19 March 2014 indicate what appears to be a huge build-up of sulfur in the ocean, expanding gradually along the shore to the south of Sandwich Harbour.

The latest images show that the sulfur eruptions cover an extensive part of the coastline.

The Earth Observatory confirms that hydrogen sulfide gas is highly toxic to fish and that the “periodic die-offs of whole populations of fish and other commercial seafood are ongoing concerns for the regional fishing industry”.

In his recent annual address on the state of the fishing stocks and the industry, Minister Bernhard Esau noted with concern that during the summer months of 2013, extensive regions of the sea were found to have low levels of oxygen, although he reported that the state of affairs with regard to oxygen depletion in the ocean had improved by mid-year.

The NASA scientists noted that the regular eruptions along the coast of Namibia occur mainly when bacteria release hydrogen sulfide gas, as they break down dead plants and animals that have sunk to the sea floor. As the gas rises to the surface, it interacts with oxygen to form solid white sulfur.

“Hydrogen sulfide eruptions happen frequently off the shore of Namibia , because of patterns in the ocean currents, called upwelling. Cold water pushes nutrients from the ocean floor to the surface, where large colonies of microscopic ocean plants, phytoplankton, grow in the nutrient rich water.

“As the plants use all of the nutrients in the water, they die and sink to the sea floor where bacteria consume them. The bacteria release toxic hydrogen sulfide gas into the soil. Eventually, the toxic gas erupts from the soil.” This is usually accompanied by massive fish die-offs and a stench that resembles rotten eggs.

A spokesperson for the ministry of fisheries said on Tuesday that they were not aware of the scale of the latest eruptions, but "clearly something [significant] is happening".

Mr Charles Matengu said that, after this newspaper alerted fisheries officials to the situation on Monday, they dispatched a team of marine scientists to investigate. The issue is receiving high-level attention, he said, as there are likely to be environmental impacts.

According to NASA Earth Observatory, hydrogen sulfide eruptions have only ever been observed off the shore of Namibia. The ministry is expected to provide a more detailed report on the situation later today (Tuesday).

Chinese charged with rhino horn smuggling

Three Chinese men appeared in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court yesterday in connection with the discovery of 14 rhino horns in luggage at the Hosea Kutako International Airport on Monday.
The three men – Li Xiao Liang (30), Li Zhi Bing (53) and Pu Xu Nin (49) – are charged with counts of possession of controlled wildlife products and export of controlled wildlife products. They remain in police custody after their first court appearance before Magistrate Jermaine Muchali and have to return to court on 2 April.

The three men were arrested on Monday, after members of the Namibian Police’s Aviation Unit at Hosea Kutako International Airport had allegedly discovered 14 rhino horns and a leopard skin in their luggage.

Police spokesperson Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi said on Monday that the men’s passports indicated that they had left China on 9 March and arrived in Zambia the following day.

They stayed in Zambia for a day and then entered Namibia through the Wenela border post in the Zambezi Region on 12 March.

The men were arrested after a search of their luggage as they were about to board an aircraft going to the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. They were scheduled to travel on to Hong Kong from Johannesburg.

“This is a very serious case and it is enjoying the full attention of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism because these foreign nationals were found in illegal possession of products of animals which are protected in Namibia,” Kanguatjivi said.

After being informed of their rights to legal representation the three accused indicated to the magistrate that they would get the services of a private lawyer for themselves.

Speaking through a Mandarin interpreter, Pu told Magistrate Muchali that he is not connected to his co-accused and that he did not have “any stuff” with him before their arrest.

The magistrate told him that the case is still being investigated by the police and that he would have to remain in custody until their next court appearance at least.

The State is opposing the granting of bail to them because of the seriousness of the charges they are facing, the fact that the items involved in the case are valued at about N$2 million at this stage, and the fear that the accused might abscond if released on bail, Public Prosecutor Verinao Kamahene said to the magistrate.

Rhino poaching has increased to alarming levels in several African countries over the past few years. South Africa’s rhinoceros population has been especially hard hit. While 83 rhinos were poached in South Africa in 2008, that number had rocketed to 1 004 animals being illegally killed for their horns during 2013, according to the conservation organisation Save The Rhino International.

The sharp increase in poaching is attributed to a growing demand for rhino horn in Asian countries, mainly China and Vietnam, where the animals’ horn is believed to have medicinal properties. In fact, though, rhino horns are composed largely of the protein keratin, which is also the chief component in hair, fingernails, and animal hooves.

Last month, a Chinese national was also arrested by police officers during a sting operation while in illegal possession of rhino horns at Opuwo in the Kunene Region.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Daan Viljoen Park levy

Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) appears to have a very different understanding of the terms of its Public-Private Partnership agreement with the Prosperity Group at the Daan Viljoen Game Park.

Visitors to the resort last weekend complained that they received a bill (pro-forma invoice) that clearly stipulates that the resort also charges customers a 10 percent NWR levy.

In response to enquiries about what the guests considered a highly irregular charge the internal auditor Zandre Haimbodi said that the 10 percent levy charged by Prosperity Group did not appear consistent with the agreement it had with NWR.

“This is totally wrong. It is not supposed to happen this way, we are in the process of engaging the managing director of Daan Viljoen,” he said.

Kobus Struwig, who is the current Managing Director (MD) of the Prosperity Group, confirmed in an interview on Wednesday that the NWR MD Zelna Hengari had called him personally to query the charges on the bills.

“I spoke to her and explained that I don’t see where the problem is because contractually just like with any public private partnership, I am obliged to pay 10 percent of my total monthly turnover to NWR.”

“I think there is some confusion. I don’t pay the levy on my profits, I pay it on my total turnover; if it was the other way around that would be great for me,” Struwig said.

He continued to explain that when a customer receives their bill the 15 percent value added tax (VAT) as well as the NWR levy is included in the cost of each item already.

Struwig further remarked that their prices are on par with those of popular restaurants in Windhoek and that if anything his company is at a disadvantage because they do not have to incorporate the NWR levy in their mark-up.

“I do it this way because the system calculates it for me and gives me separate amounts each month for VAT and the NWR levy. Doing this manually for it to not reflect on the customer invoice would be a nightmare,” he explained.

The Prosperity MD concluded by highlighting that there is nothing dubious about the method they used and if anything it made them that much more transparent.

He also mentioned that after his telephone conversation with Hengari she requested the explanation in writing, which he submitted to her electronically.

Contacted for comment regarding the apparent confusion of the NWR staff about the agreement, this newspaper could not reach MD Zelna Hengari because she had apparently travelled to the coast on official business.

NWR signed its Public-Private Partnership agreement with the Prosperity Group in 2008 that resulted in a complete revamp of the Daan Viljoen Nature Reserve.

So far the company has reportedly spent N$40 million on revamping the camp site, bungalows, restaurants and landscaping at the park which suffered from age and dilapidated infrastructure.

Currently the resort functions as a general tourism facility but also as a conference venue.

Prosperity subsidiary, San Karros Lifestyle Safari, signed the PPP deal with NWR in 2008 through which it has a 30-year lease on Daan Viljoen.

The industry refers to the PPP as a lease-rehabilitate-operate-transfer model. The reserve forms part of a cluster of projects that form part of the parastatal’s turnaround strategy aimed at transforming NWR into a profitable state tourism business.

Swapo’s Kalahari and Zebra Holdings have a combined 20 per cent stake in the project.

New statues and memorial museum inaugurated in Windhoek

Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba inaugurated the Independence Memorial Museum, the Founding Father and the Genocide Memorial statues on Thursday in Windhoek.
Cabinet decided to establish the museum which will serve as a central repository for materials, a memorabilia related to Namibia’s anti-colonial resistance and the armed liberation struggle.

Ot was previously reported that Sam Nujoma’s statue alone costs N$284 000.

The Namibian also established that the statues were made in North Korea.

Speaking during the ceremony that was attended by Nujoma, ministers and some members of the public, Pohamba said the construction of the Independence Memorial Museum was part of fulfilling the sacred task to tell, record and preserve Namibia’s history.

He described the museum as the centre where Namibia’s long history of anti-colonial resistance and the national liberation struggle was being told.

“Successful nations are those that learn from and appreciate their history. Our people were oppressed for more than a century,” Pohamba said.

Nujoma’s statue replaced the Reiterdenkmal statue which was erected in memory of German soldiers and settlers who had lost their lives in the wars against the indigenous Namibian people.

“As we inaugurate this Genocide Memorial Statue, we are filled with mixed emotions. Emotions of sadness because we recall the horrors that our people were subjected to by the colonial troops, and emotions of pride because through this memorial, we are saying as a nation, that despite the hardships, we have prevailed and emerged victorious,” Pohamba said.

Swapo Member of Parliament Kazenambo Kazenambo said this was long over due.

He congratulated the Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture for smoothly completing the task that he and other ministers that have occupied the position before left unfinished.

The outspoken former youth minister also said he was proud because he was a descendent of the genocide victims.

“Let’s march forward in building this nation,” he said.

Nudo president Kuaima Riruako echoed Kazenambo’s sentiments.

Although he claimed this was his idea, Riruako applauded President Pohamba for finally making sure this was put to practice.

“I presented this in parliament, you can’t do things and forget the people that have given you the idea,” adding that he was however proud that it had finally become a reality.

Zambezi Waterfront Tourism Park opens in 2014

Multi-million Zambezi Waterfront Tourism Park is to open its doors for the public during the third quarter of this year after several hiccups have been sorted out.
Although a feasibility study on this project was completed in 2003, the construction only started three years later, and the delay could be attributed to the Town Council’s reluctance to transfer the land into the name of the Waterfront.
Initially, government made N$32,2 million available in 2004 for inter alia the roads and infrastructure, the entrance and administration facility, aquarium, walkways, recreational centre, arts and craft centre, and annual operating costs.
However, with the delay the costs escalated and it was further reported by the Waterfront board that the design and documentation stages unearthed a potential risk to the project.
“This necessitated embankments and earthworks to be added to the project to mitigate the effects of floods. At the same time, the heavy rain falls over Zambezi also delayed the project,” said the project manager, Geoffrey Mugala.
This resulted in an increase of the initial funding from N$32,2 million to N$79 million in the 2009/2010 book year.
During the next financial year, the Waterfont was provided with additional funding of N$22 million to complete the infrastructure development, and for the next two years about N$40 million were pumped into the project.
“During the 2013/2014 financial year we needed an amount of N$2,3 million to cover the anticipated shortfall on the budget for the completion of the 26 bungalows and a further N$7,5 million to cater for the operation costs,” said Mugala.
He is optimistic that the opening of the park to the public will still be realised this year, while in the meantime they will continue with another phase for which an amount of N$30 million has been set aside.
It is likely that this project would be transferred to Namibia Wildlife Resorts so that the NWR with its capacity to run a tourism facility should turn it into a profitable company.

Reiterdenkmal battles in Windhoek

German groups have threatened to demolish any structure that replaces the Reiterdenkmal and to take the Namibian government to court for its removal.
The groups - the Kriegräberfürsorge, the Traditionsverband ehemaliger Schutz-und Überseetruppen and the Memorable Order of Tinheads - have engaged the services of the law firm Andreas Vaatz and Partners to inform the Namibian Government of their intentions.

Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (German War Graves Commission), formed in 1919, maintains German war graves in Europe and North Africa as well as preserves memories of the sacrifices made by German troops across the world, while the Traditionsverband ehemaliger Schutz-und Überseetruppen (the traditional organisation for former German overseas soldiers) celebrates the memory of German troops serving in former colonies.

The Memorable Order of Tin Hats also known as The MOTH, that was formed in 1927, helps fellow colonial soldiers in need as well as all those who “answered the Sunset Call (death), both in war and peace time”.

In a letter written by the groups’ lawyer Andreas Vaatz to the Ministry of Works and Transport on 21 February 2014, they threaten to sue the government. They did not say when they will approach the courts.

The Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, Jerry Ekandjo, made the revelation at the unveiling of the Genocide Memorial, the Sam Nujoma Statue and the inauguration of the Independence Memorial Museum.

The groups warned that they will demolish any structure that replaces the Reiterdenkmal, in this case, Nujoma’s statue.

“Please be advised that, if the building presently underway at the place in question is not aimed at restoring and reinstating the Reiterdenkmal, our clients are of the intention to do all things necessary, including legal proceedings in the High Court of Namibia, to secure the reinstatement of the Reiterdenkmal to exactly the same place where it was removed.

“You proceed with such building operation at your own peril and the risk of the same having to be demolished in future to cater for the reinstatement of the Reiterdenkmal,” the letter reads.

Backing up their arguments and claims to sue, the lawyers quoted from the National Heritage Act of 2004, which states that “a person must not remove or demolish, damage or deposit, develop or alter or excavate all or any part of a protected place.”

They say removing the Reiterdenkmal is a punishable crime as the Constitution states that anyone who contravenes it “is liable to a fine not exceeding N$100 000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, or to both such fine and such imprisonment.”

Vaatz further argues that the government decided to take the law into its own hands. “As a lawyer, I cannot approve of any minister or government infringing its own laws. What they did is in breach of the law. The Constitution has already been drawn up and we should all abide to it.”

Responding to the letter, Ekandjo said no force on earth will put the horse back. “We have fought for this country. That horse will never rise again.”

President Pohamba questioned who the groups are, and whether they are Namibian-born Germans.

Just last week, Pohamba told Germany that his government will allow it to take the Reiterdenkmal back to their country as “the horse is a problem”.

Historically, the Reiterdenkmal honours soldiers and civilians who died on the German side of the war with OvaHerero and Nama people between 1904 and 1907.

The statue depicts a soldier riding a horse and raising a gun.

It was inaugurated in 1912 by Theodor Seitz, the then governor of German South-West Africa, who, the notice says, reminded those at the event of the many sacrifices made by the colonial army.

It was removed under heavy police guard on Christmas Day last year and is standing in the courtyard of the Alte Feste Museum in Windhoek.

New policies for protected areas in Namibia

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism recently launched three new policies to further support the management and conservation of protected areas in the country.
The National Policy on Filming and Photography in Protected Areas, the National Policy for the Provision of Housing in Protected Areas, as well as the National Policy on Protected Areas’ Neighbours and Resident Communities, was launched last month at Okaukuejo in the Etosha National Park.
According to a press release by the ministry’s permanent secretary Simeon Negumbo, Namibia’s protected areas contribute socio-economic benefits to local communities.
The National Policy on Protected Areas’ Neighbours and Resident communities will therefore contribute to the improvement of conservation efforts by providing greater social equity and stimulating local economic development through creating business opportunities linked to protected areas.
According to Negumbo the policy also seeks to create significant positive attitudes among residents and neighbours of protected areas and also aims to engage them about sound management to enhance conservation activities.
“Protected areas are a valuable resource for community development,” said Negumbo.
“Not only are protected areas a source of useful natural resources, but they are also a source of development resources, such as income earning opportunities, skill resources, communication infrastructure, educational resources and development catalysts.”
Negumbo explained that the primary purpose of the National Policy for the Provision of Housing in Protected Areas is to provide a framework for government in terms of the provision and occupation of housing in protected areas for ministry employees, as well as employees of other institutions.
The policy also aims to address aspects of the number, location and standard of staff houses to be provided within protected areas, and the conduct of people residing in these areas.
It will also regulate the type of activities residents should engage in within protected areas.
Negumbo added that commercial filming and photography are important economic activities in the environmental sector and Namibia has strong comparative advantages, due to its rich wildlife and scenic resources.
According to Negumbo commercial filming and photography also create employment and help to promote Namibia internationally.
It is also a source of revenue for the State.
“Filming and photography in national parks is a major contributor to the tourism development of the country. However, it must be conducted in a systematic and co-ordinated manner, which is sustainable and environmentally friendly.”
The National Policy on Filming and Photography in Protected Areas will therefore ensure that filming and photography in protected areas complies with the environmental and economic regulatory framework, and that it promotes the economy of the country.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Что такое оккупированные территории

Примером оккупированной территории может быть Намибия — государство на юго-западе Африки (площадь — 824 тыс. кв. км).

В 1884 г. территория Намибии (Юго-Западная Африка) была объявлена германским протекторатом, а в 1915 г. оккупирована Южно-Африканским Союзом (ЮАС). С появлением механизмов Лиги Наций ЮАС получает в 1920 г. соответствующий мандат, но после второй мировой войны отказывается признать право ЮЗА на самоопределение и распространяет на всю ее территорию режим апартеида.

В 1967 г. в качестве директивного органа Генеральной Ассамблеи ООН, уполномоченного защищать права и интересы оккупированной Намибии и ее народа до достижения этой территорией независимости, учреждается Совет ООН по Намибии.

В мае 1987 г. Совет, включавший в свой состав представителей 31 государства, в том числе СССР, принял на основе консенсуса Луандскую декларацию, в которой подтвердил неотъемлемое право народа Намибии на самоопределение и независимость в единой Намибии с сохранением ее полной территориальной целостности, включая Уолфиш-Бей, о. Пенгуин и другие прибрежные острова, являющиеся частью территории Намибии. Лишь 21 марта 1990 г. была провозглашена независимость Намибии.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Taxi chaos in Windhoek

High drama ensued on Thursday afternoon when taxi drivers clashed with the police at the intersection of Mandume Ndemufayo and Davy Street in Windhoek's central business district (CBD).
Scores of onlookers crowded the intersection and spilled onto the streets as emotions ran high when a convoy of taxi drivers parked their vehicles in the middle of one of Windhoek's most congested intersections and brought the city to a halt.

The drivers started their rally at the intersection of the B1 Highway and Mandume Ndemufayo streets. They then travelled in convoy towards the intercity disturbing all available lanes of traffic until they reached one of the main arteries of the city and parked their cars, blocking traffic from all directions.

Soon police swarmed the scene to try and restore order. The taxi drivers responded with chants protesting high traffic fines imposed by traffic regulators. The police met the protesters with overwhelming numbers and soon detained two visibly emotional men who were forcibly removed from their cars.

Groups of Special Field Force officers arrived to assist the police and traffic officers on the scene.

Tensions were soon calmed when police cocked their AK47s and threatened to use pepper spray.

Traffic had at this point packed up to stretch the length of Wernhill Park and beyond to Wika Service Station, around 50 metres away.

The officers cleared the taxis and had others towed away to be impounded. Officers then cordoned off the entire stretch of Mandume Ndemufayo Street from John Meinert Street up to the Zambian Embassy.

Police, including those in plain clothes, descended on the city centre and caused confusion to some drivers who questioned the authority of these officers, especially one dressed in overalls and sandals.

This stage of the taxi driver-police stand-off caused tremendous confusion among the peak hour commuters, forcing some members of the public to engage in highly inappropriate and illegal manoeuvres in attempts crossing barriers to avoid waiting in traffic for any longer.

When The Namibian approached Werner Januarie, president of the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) on Friday night he said, "I have no information about what transpired today. I was in Donkerhoek when the whole thing happened. To our surprise it was mentioned by police officers when we met them today."

He was however agitated that the police would not give them permission to march.

"The police refused to give us a reply on our notice of march.

"We had to give them three day notice but today was only the second day.

Januarie repeated his mantra of the last few months. "We want fines to be reduced!"

Police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga told local newspaper that he declined the application of taxi drivers to demonstrate as he foresaw chaos on a rather busy day.

He said five people were arrested while taxis that were parked in the road were impounded and the owners will be fined for that indiscretion.

Ndeitunga said the strike caused an inconvenience to residents, especially on the day when Namibia is hosting the Nigerian president and the new national museum was opened. It is also the eve of Independence Day.

"They are very irresponsible," he said.

Taxi drivers are on an indefinite strike since Wednesday 19 March.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Namibia Tourism Expo

04 May - 07 June 2014

The 16th Annual Namibia Tourism Expo is organised by Republikein and is supported by all Namibian Tourism Organisations, including the Namibian Tourism Board (NTB) and will be held from the 4th – 7th June2014. Our aim is to provide a platform for Namibia's Hospitality Industry to promote and market their products and services to all involved in the Industry as well as the general public.

Since its inception in 1999, the Namibia Tourism Expo has consistently grown and has earned a superb reputation for offering the only centralised marketing platform for Namibia's Hospitality Industry.

Apart from presenting a highly effective showcase for Exhibitors active in Tourism, the organisers have revitalised the exhibition year after year by expanding the showcase.

The Expo hosts exhibits by local, regional and international establishments and also features interactive Chef's Demonstrations, Namibian Arts & Crafts Exhibitions, food, beer & wine tasting and a host of other fun activities to attract travel enthusiasts, foodies, friends of tourism and the general public alike.

A fully fledged motor vehicle show, complete with motoring accessories, is hosted under the banner of the Bank Windhoek – Republikein Motorshow.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Zambezi River dredging

The dredging of the Zambezi River is scheduled to start in a matter of days, following the commissioning of the dredger by the deputy Minister of Works and Transport Kilus Nguvauva last week.

The commissioning of the dredger, that cost government nearly N$8 million, coincides with the displacement of thousands of people in the eastern parts of the region due to seasonal flooding. The dredger will clear clogged waterways for the Kapelwa Kabajani river ferry, which has not been operational for years since its maiden voyage in 2010 due to low water levels and impassable and rocky patches in the river. The barge is used mainly by residents of the flood prone Kabbe constituency. “The river landing craft was acquired with the sole purpose of transporting our people and their goods between Katima Mulilo and Impalila Island and the Kasika area, as well as assisting during flood emergencies in the area. It is being utilised to transport passengers and goods, but not to its full potential as expected. It has been facing major challenges such as getting stuck on sand and rock outcrops, especially when the level in the Zambezi becomes low. As a result it had a negative impact on our service delivery in terms of the transportation of our people,” said Nguvauva during the commissioning of the vessel.

Nguvauva further said the acquisition of the ferry and dredger form part of the ministry’s strategic plan to ensure smooth and reliable transportation for the many residents, who rely on often unpredictable dug-out canoes as the primary means of transportation on longer and tiring journeys in the region. “This is the ministry’s objective of ensuring a modern and reliable transport infrastructure and ensuring the provision of quality goods and services,” said Nguvauva. Although he was not specific, the deputy minister conceded that the ministry is aware of possible dredging impacts on aquatic life and said everything possible is being done to minimise the impact. “The dredger is not a perfect initiative. I would like to call upon the department of transport and the directorate of maritime affairs to undertake an environmental assessment that will analyse the direct or indirect impact of using a dredger in our mighty Zambezi before we destroy what we proudly have at the moment,” appealed Nguvauva. Kabbe constituency councillor and chairperson of the Zambezi regional council Raphael Mbala said negotiations with the ministry of works culminated in a significant reduction of tariffs, that has previously been a serious bone of contention with villagers who considered the proposed tariffs to be too high and therefore unaffordable to the majority. “We negotiated with the ministry of works. The tariffs were reduced to N$85 from Katima Mulilo to Kasika and Impalila and N$45 from Katima to Schuckmansburg (now Luhonono). However, this is yet to be finalised. The barge has only assisted flood victims and has not yet started with its transportation services. We are dredging the river so that the ferry can travel uninterrupted the whole year,” said Mbala. The 360 horse power ferry christened the ‘Richard Kapelwa Kabajani’ after the late liberation struggle hero can load up to two vehicles and hundreds of people. According to plans by the ministry of works the Zambezi River would be dredged from Katima Mulilo up to Impalila Island.

SAVE tourism for Namibia

Namibia should strongly pursue the scientific, academic, volunteer and educational (SAVE) tourism market and address challenges to grow it more effectively.
According to the Environmental Commissioner of Namibia, Theo Nghitila, Namibia is only scratching the surface of this segment and can do much more through a coordinated and focused approach.
Nghitila made the remarks at a seminar held yesterday to introduce the concept of SAVE tourism. The seminar was presented Dr Kristin Lamoureux from the International Institute of Washington.
Nghitila pointed out that although there are many challenges with regard to this cross-cutting segment in the tourism market, it should be addressed to develop the market.
“The SAVE market is something not pursued strongly before,” he said.
According to him there is currently some SAVE tourism in place in Namibia although it is not being recognised as such, because it is classified under the concept of volunteer tourism.
Nghitila explained that Namibia has researchers at Ongava and Gobabeb, which is part of scientific tourism, and that the country also has students from abroad who are studying at Namibian universities and are therefore involved in academic tourism.
Furthermore, there are volunteers at organisations such as the Cheetah Conservation Fund and Nankuse, classified as volunteer tourism, as well as individuals teaching English and other skills through organisations such as the US Peace Corps, classified as educational tourism.
There are also a number of interns from GIZ who work in the country for short periods in many of the development sectors such as environment, water and energy, while many interns from universities across the world do their internships at Namibian schools, hospitals, clinics and orphanages.
Nghitila said the overall goal of tourism development in Namibia is job creation, empowerment, poverty alleviation and economic development as outlined in the fourth National Development Plan, and to succeed at this the country needs to increase the number of tourists who visit Namibia each year.
He said there are many concerns about the fact that the SAVE tourism market is not being pursued strongly, especially because it impacts on work in parks and conservation and because it presents significant challenges to immigration.
“Are these people working or are they on holiday - is it therefore a work visa or a holiday visa?” he asked.
This issue affects many other sectors not related to tourism, such as education, health, construction, charity and immigration.
Nghitila said the other important point to keep in mind is that under the fourth National Development Plan the nation will judge it based on the growth of the tourism sector and even more so on the revenue generated.
Revenue will mean more roads, telephone communication, clinics and schools for the nation.
He stressed that the challenges with regard to SAVE tourism should be discussed and solutions to address these through the appropriate policies, legislation or incentives must be found.
“If there is none we should develop them. In the end the country stands to benefit.”
He added that Namibia should not give up on this segment because of the challenges, but rather overcome them.

Namibia: smoking ban in April

Four years after its enactment into law, the Tobacco Control Act of 2010, which bans smoking in all public places, will come into force in April.

“Under the definition of public places, we include all venues where people are gathered. This includes all public institutions, as well as restaurants, bars, shebeens, and also sports venues.”

This was said by Deputy Director of Public and Environmental Health, Mr Benson Ntomwa, during an in-depth interview with the Namib Times on Monday.

Smoking on all forms of public transport will also be illegal.

Under the new law, graphic pictures displaying the harmful effects and the dangers of tobacco smoke will have to be placed on cigarette packets, with clear warning labels. There will also be additional restrictions on the sale of tobacco to persons under the age of 18.

Placing restrictions on advertising is “a sensitive legal issue”, he said, but the ministry has made it clear that it is opposed to advertising tobacco products in places where children can see them.

Mr Ntomwa says there is a worldwide move to control and limit the harmful effects of tobacco smoke on public health, and with the decline of smoking in Europe and America , the target market for tobacco companies has shifted to Africa , where people do not necessarily understand the risks of smoking tobacco.

He believes the new law is essential in terms of maintaining public health and protecting the next generation from the harmful effects of tobacco.

Dealing with the long-term impact of tobacco-related illnesses is also costing the government a lot of money, he said.

Despite threats from tobacco companies to sue the Namibian government if further controls are imposed on their products, the ministry will go ahead to enforce the new regulations to control the harmful substance.

Asked how the government will enforce the new tobacco law, Mr Ntomwa noted that the Minister of Health has set up a Committee on Tobacco Product Control and has appointed regional health inspectors with special powers to monitor and enforce the legislation.

Speaking in Windhoek on Friday, Health Minister Richard Kamwi said, “We are all here to make these important life-saving measures a reality in Namibia . I would like to assure you that the Ministry of Health and Social Services will take all the necessary measures and provide all possible support for this to happen. We also depend on the dedication and commitment of all our stakeholders, and the whole-hearted cooperation of all Namibian citizens.”

In February the Namib Times reported that major tobacco companies are fighting tooth and nail to prevent the implementation of the new Tobacco Control Act, which would require them to remove all brand advertising on cigarette packets and put on large warning labels on their products instead.

In the case of Namibia , the tobacco industry argued that forcing them to put large warning labels on cigarette packets infringes on their intellectual property rights and they threatened the government with lawsuits if it should attempt to implement the new law.

"We have bundles and bundles of letters from them (the tobacco industry)… We have decided to put our foot down. If they want to go to court, we will see them there.” Dr Kamwi said in December 2013.

According to the World Health Organisation, more than five million people lose their lives every year due to smoking-related diseases.

The number of deaths caused by smoking exceeds the total number of people killed by tuberculosis, HIV/Aids and malaria combined. Tobacco smoke is also responsible for 90% of cases of lung cancer, 70% of chronic respiratory illness and 25% of heart disease.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Eagle ray gives birth at Swakopmund Aquarium

Stingrays are a group of rays, which are cartilaginous fishes related to sharks. The eagle ray or myliobatidae, is one of the eight families of stingrays that can be found. Most stingrays have one or more barbed stingers on the tail, which are used exclusively in self defense. The stinger may reach a length of approximately 35 cm (14 in), and its underside has two grooves with venom glands. The stinger is covered with a thin layer of skin, the integumentary sheath, in which the venom is concentrated.

Swakopmund Aquarium has 3 eagle rays and 1 blue ray. The eagle rays have a gestation period of 8 months explained Andre' van Niekerk, senior research technician at the aquarium. He continued, “There is only one male eagle ray, all of the others are female, and by luck this eagle ray was already pregnant when she was brought into the aquarium.” Eagle rays usually give birth to between three to seven little ones. The pregnant eagle ray took extremely long to give birth to her little ones, and unfortunately all of them were born dead. Mr Van Niekerk says that the eagle rays and the spotted sharks are the only ones who have a chance of actually reproducing in the aquarium as they grow their young ones inside of them.

With the other fish who lay eggs, the eggs are usually lost in the filtrations system of the aquarium. Luckily one of the spotted sharks successfully gave birth to quite a few little ones who can now be seen swimming around in the tank.

Repsol вложит $95 млн в буровые работы на шельфе Намибии

Мадрид. Испанская нефтегазовая компания Repsol намерена потратить 95 миллионов долларов на бурение своих первых скважин на блоке 1911 на шельфе Намибии. Об этом сообщает РИА "Новости" со ссылкой на комиссара по вопросам нефти министерства энергетики и природных ресурсов Намибии Иммануэля Мулунга.
"Они сильно рискуют, но их риск дает нам надежду. Это риск, который стоит взять на себя, так как мы верим, что в этом блоке есть нефть", - сказал комиссар.
Начало бурения скважины Welwitschia-1 на блоке 1911, оператором которого является Repsol, намечено на следующий месяц. По словам пресс-секретаря испанской компании Кристиан Рикс, Repsol в текущем году намерена вести буровые работы вдоль всего западного побережья Африки.
Нефтяные активы Намибии в последнее время привлекли большое внимание крупных мировых нефтегазовых компаний, таких как BP, Royal Dutch Shell и других, которые верят в возможность обнаружить существенные запасы "черного золота" на шельфе страны.
"Тот факт, что Бразилия и Африка миллионы лет назад были соединены, дает нам надежду. Ранее нефть была обнаружена в Анголе и Габоне, поэтому мы надеемся, что нефть есть и на намибийской части западного побережья Африки", - отметил Мулунга.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Stabbed over what?

Elephant invasion in Omaheke, Namibia

Elephants, believed to have crossed into Namibia from neighbouring Botswana, have been wreaking havoc in villages adjacent to the border fence in the Omaheke Region’s Otjombinde Constituency.
Villagers told Nampa that the elephants, estimated to be about five, have destroyed vital water infrastructure and a village, while they also destroyed vast crop fields in another village.

Although there have not been any reports of physical harm to humans in the constituency, villagers fear that it is only a matter of time before the elephants which are suspected to have crossed into Namibia a week ago, become aggressive and attack humans.

Kapanda Marenga, who farms at Okomukaru village located along the Namibia-Botswana border fence, said he had suffered insurmountable damage to his crop fields and will find it hard to recoup the loss before the winter season.

“We planted some crops hoping that our livestock would have silage during winter, but all these crops were trampled on by the elephants. We have literary nothing left to help us through the coming dry season,” he said.

Marenga said the elephants also destroyed the engine which pumps water to a local watering point for both livestock and humans, by uprooting it from its base.

The damage to the crops comes at a time when the Omaheke Region is slowly recovering from one of the worst droughts in recent memory.

The villagers have urged the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to drive the jumbos back into Botswana.

But the Chief Warden at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Kasongo Buchane has ruled out such a possibility at present.

Speaking on Wednesday, Buchane confirmed receiving reports of the presence of the elephants in Otjombinde, but said a large part of the constituency is a conservancy in which the free movement of animals is encouraged.

He noted that the ministry, through funds allocated to conservancies, will only be able to compensate for damage caused by the elephants as a result of human-animal conflict.

“Conservancies use elephants and other animals for trophy hunting purposes, which in turn generates funds for them. We are monitoring the situation and will act immediately if the elephants become aggressive to humans,” he said.

According to information given to Nampa, the elephants have also been observed in villages in the Epukiro Constituency, which borders Otjombinde.

Buchane and his team will travel to Okomukaru in the Otjombinde Constituency to assess the situation on the ground, although he did not say when this would happen.

No public smoking in Namibia from July

Global efforts at clamping down on tobacco smoke will become reality for Namibians in July.
Minister of Health and Social Services Richard Kamwi yesterday announced that the long-pending Tobacco Products Control Act of 2010 will come into effect on April 1, with a ban on public smoking to follow on July 1. Kamwi was speaking at the start of a two-day meeting with other line ministries, law enforcement agents, the hospitality industry and other businesses that will be affected.
Bewailing the long process it took to implement the new law, Kamwi yesterday blamed the international tobacco industry for deliberate attempts at stalling.
“The tobacco industry is using international trade and investment instruments as a justification to increase the sale and use of tobacco products,” Kamwi told those in attendance on day one of the deliberations.
“In many countries, the perception of the health and trade sector ministries is largely confined to their respective mandates. This has left a gap for the tobacco industry to interfere in the implementation of solid regulatory measures,” Kamwi said.
Among other conditions, the new tobacco legislation prohibits smoking in all public places, obliges the display of warning signs at all points of tobacco sale, calls for restricted availability of tobacco to persons under 18 years old, and compels the display of ‘prohibition to smoke’ signs at all public places.
Owners of public establishments will be required to implement a number of specific oversight duties at their places of business.
Urging participants at yesterday’s meeting to make sure no more time is wasted in getting the Act implemented, Kamwi cited a number of damning statistics – including that 10% of the estimated six million people who die of tobacco use annually are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke.
“The World Bank has confirmed repeatedly that the economic impact of disability, lost productivity and early deaths due to tobacco contributes to the burden of poverty, retards national development and further widens health and income inequality. Thus, tobacco control is not only a public health priority but a key development issue,” Kamwi said.
Areas where smoking will be banned include shopping malls, sport fields, schools, workplaces, restaurants, airport lounges and public transport.
The new legislation follows the new international trend which forces manufacturers to prominently feature on cigarette packaging one of 12 unappealing pictures illustrating the dangers of tobacco smoking, including pictures of diseased lungs, hearts, teeth and foetuses. Packaging may no longer bear any wording such as ‘mild’, ‘low tar’, or ‘light’, or “any other word, term or sign that directly or indirectly creates an impression that a particular tobacco product or brand is less harmful than others”.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

More monuments, good and different

Discontent unexpectedly boiled over yesterday with the paramount chief of the Ovaherero, Kuaima Riruako accusing government of orchestrated efforts to wipe out the history of the Ovaherero people.
On the eve of the final year of President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s term of office, Chief Riruako described the haste around the erection of the genocide monument, the return of more Namibian skulls from Germany, and the removal of the Reiterdenkmal as steps to confine the suffering and contribution of the Ovaherereo to the dustbin of history. “It was me who spearheaded the search for the Ovaherero and Nama skeletons in German museums, and my government could not even consult me. That is the reason I boycotted last week’s welcoming ceremony,” a visibly angry Riruako said.
On 19 September 2006, Riruako tabled a motion in the National Assembly, in an effort to hold Germany accountable for the genocide committed against the Ovaherero and other Namibian people from 1904 to 1907. The motion received overwhelming support from Swapo and was unanimously adopted by the house. Riruako was joined in his boycott by former Swapo parliamentarian and chairperson of the Nama Genocide Technical Committee, Ida Hoffman, and by the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu Genocide Foundation (OGF),
He added that Chief Hosea Kutako who facilitated the founding president Sam Nujoma’s path to exile, and who happens to be Herero is also not properly honoured by our government.
“He deserves to be on the Nami-bian currency. His contribution to the struggle is so large that the United Nations still have a statue of him at the entrance of the UN headquarters in New York, but they removed those of Eleanor Roosevelt and Winston Churchill,” Riruako added.
According to Riruako, he was against the removal of the Reiterdenkmal, because it is part of the genocide history, and the removal in secrecy and at night was designed to rob the Ovaherero of their memories and is part of the systematic erasure of a history of oppression and suffering at the hands of successive oppressors that started with the imperial German government at the turn of the previous century.
“Now we cannot point out to the world the people that nearly killed us off” Riruako added.
In an even bigger threat of national embarrassment, Chief Riruako threatened to boycott the unveiling of the genocide monument as he does not want to be part of the generalisation of Namibian history by denying the special victim status of the Ovaherero.
Adamant to see through the reparations demands in his lifetime, Riruako said if government continues to deal with the genocide issue in the manner it is currently being handled, then he will be tempted to deal with the German government himself, even if it would require taking it to court.
His first attempt failed when in 2001 he and other Heroro chiefs took the German government to the US High Court over the genocide, demanding $2 billion in reparations.

Ballooning government wage bill in Namibia

Namibian government wage bill has grown from N$7,8 billion in 2009 to N$22 billion this year - a staggering increase of about N$14 billion in just five years.

Finance minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila told Parliament on Tuesday that the ballooning civil service wage bill “is a growing concern”.
“Without doubt, the public wage bill, standing at N$22 billion in the 2014 budget or about 42% of the revenue is a cause for concern,” she said.

Responding to questions on the budget she presented about two weeks ago, the minister said the size of the public service has a significant implication on the budget.

“Dealing with this matter is a process that requires cooperation among different stakeholders,” she said, adding that the job evaluation and regrading implemented last year accounted for N$2,5 billion of the operational budget.

Budget documents show that the wage bill that was N$7,8 billion in 2009, increased to N$10,8 billion in 2010; and to N$12,6 billion in 2011. In 2012, government was paying out N$14 billion, and this rose to N$17 billion in 2013. This year, civil servants will gobble up N$22 billion in salaries. Still, the figure is estimated to go up to N$23 billion in 2015 and again by a billion in 2016.

The number of government employees has continued rising sharply and will balloon by another 15 000 in the coming few years to about 130 000, despite complaints by citizens for nearly two decades that the civil service was bloated and inefficient.

At the moment there are 97 535 civil servants, but the structure provides for 129 560 positions. With the 14 741 positions expected to be filled this financial year, the number will reach 112 276.

The top five ministries that eat up most of the wage bill are the Ministry of Education with N$7,7 billion, an amount that will increase to N$8 billion next year, Ministry of Defence with N$4,4 billion - up from N$1,9 billion in 2012.

About N$3 billion will go towards safety and security staff, while N$2,3 billion is for the health ministry.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry will pay N$657 million to staff members, followed by Ministry of Finance with N$552 million while Foreign Affairs will pump out N$467 million in salaries.

About N$388 million has been allocated to the Ministry of Justice while the Ministry of Works and Transport gets N$305 million.

The others high earners are Ministry of Environment and Tourism with N$251 million and Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration with N$213 million.

Those figures contrast with pronouncements by government leaders such as Prime Minister Hage Geingob and Kuugongelwa-Amadhila who questioned the bloated civil service and suggested it should be leaner.

A government study called the Wages and Salary Commission (Wascom) in 1996 recommended that Namibia should have a smaller, better paid, more professional and more efficient public service.

Meanwhile, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila also questioned the dependance of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) on government.

“The continued dependance of some SOEs on government for operation support remains a concern, as are the delays in the finalisation of financial statements and continued instance of qualified and disclaimer audit opinions,” she said.

The former Director General of the National Planning Commission said government expects improved performance from all SOEs as required by the law.

Van Schalkwyk died in plane crash

An aviation accident had claimed the life of Mr Paul van Schalkwyk, the owner of One Africa TV, on Sunday night.

The plane in which the renowned Namibian photographer and well-known media personality, Mr van Schalkwyk, was travelling went missing on Sunday over the Etosha Pan in the Oshikoto region.

It is not yet clear what the exact cause of the accident was, but avia-tion sources indicated yesterday that a police helicopter had been urgently dispatched to the area to investigate the accident.
Mr van Schalkwyk, who was born in 1955, was a keen photographer with a special interest in aerial photography. He spent many years filming a pride of lions in Namibia's Etosha National Game Reserve and had furthermore relished the task of documenting the political transformation that preceded Namibian Independence.

Although the details of the aviation incident and the names of passengers could not yet be confirmed at the time of going to press, official police sources confirmed that the pilot of the plane, whose name has not yet been made public, also died in the tragic accident.

Unconfirmed reports had it that the remains of the plane were found near the Etosha Park early on Monday morning by relatives of Mr van Schalkwyk.

The Civil Aviation department reported on Monday that the crash may have taken place on Saturday. It is understood that Van Schalkwyk departed from Eros airport on Saturday. He did not arrive at his scheduled destination, Ongava, and a search party was then dispatched to search for the missing plane.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Development Trust Fund: what 60 million?

Regional Development Trust Fund and Equity refuted a report tabled in parliament recently, which claimed that over N$60 million is missing from the fund.
The report, which was tabled by the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Regional Development and Reports, Lebbius Tobias, claimed that the fund could not account for the money that should have been used for regional development.

Tobias had recommended that the fund should be replaced with the Constituency Development Fund and that those who work for the fund had to be relieved of their positions.

Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, chairperson of the trust fund Sirkka Ausiku said the report based most of its information on seven unqualified auditors’ reports, including the 2001/02, 2006/07 and 2012/13 financial years.

The fund had N$346 973 000 received from the line ministry since its inception and N$57 300 804 earned in interests from investments.

“We approved N$377 928 145 in various projects aimed at improving service delivery such as water, sewer, electricity and roads,” said Ausiku, adding that the annually amount of N$30 million was not sufficient.

Since its inception, the fund gave N$12 081 122 for sewer upgrade at Karibib in Erongo region; N$44 022 520 was given to Hardap Region for electricity and water meters, tarring roads and sewer network upgrade.

In addition, N$38 708 923 went to Karas Region for renovations, Kavango got N$41 965 270 for sewer upgrade and N$79 753 079 was given to the Oshana Region for development, amongst others.

“It is not fair that the report did not mention anything about the impact the fund has had through funding of several communities over the years,” said Ausiku.

The fund is led by a 10-member board chaired by Ausiku, deputised by Leevi Hungamo of the National Planning Commission, with Nangula Mbako of the Office of the Prime Minister, and Erica Shafudah from the Ministry of Finance as some of the members.

Ausiku, on behalf of the members pointed out that the fund already has a division that deals with constituencies, within the regions and, therefore, to have a body that only targets constituencies will be challenging.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Rain relief for northern Namibia

Ongwediva, Namibia: villagers in the Ongwediva constituency and other parts of the Oshana Region could not contain their joy when they received unexpected heavy rains yesterday morning.

Some villagers in fact decided to take the day off from ploughing in accordance with the belief in the Oshiwambo tradition that if you plough on the first day that it rains heavily it will not rain again. According to tatekulu Simon Amutenya of Okaandje village, it started raining around 02h00 and the rain continued until about 04h00 yesterday morning. Amuntenya who could not contain his joy said the village has not received much rain since the beginning of the rainy season. “When I woke up this morning and I looked around, all I saw was water everywhere. I looked at the oshana and it was all covered by water. I couldn’t help it, but shed tears of joy,” said Hamutenya.

Linea Lazarus from Ondjajaxwi, another village in the constituency, was just as excited and almost besides herself with joy and said it was the first time the village received as much rain in the past two rainy seasons. She said she was still awake when it started raining a few minutes before 02h00. “It was very windy and there were heavy thunderstorms. I understand a house on the other side of the village was hit by lightning, but it was just a tree that collapsed and hit the wall fence of the homestead,” said Lazarus.

Skulls ceremony is not for all

While the Namibian government were welcoming back another batch of genocide skulls from Germany last Friday, a large group whose ancestors were affected by the colonial slaughter held a silent protest in front of the Ovaherero Commando in Windhoek.
Young and old converged at the Commando dressed in traditional attire.
They held posters and had pieces of black cloths in their mouths, in protest over the fact they had been excluded with the process which saw the latest 35 skulls and skeletal remains returned.
The Ovaherero boycott of the activities surrounding the returning skulls followed the advice Ovaherero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako and former Swapo parliamentarian Ida Hoffman, who is the chairperson of the Nama Genocide Technical Committee.
Riruako and Hoffman were, however, not at the Commando this past Friday.
Major Erica Kandorozu said: “I understand that these are our skulls and they have returned back into the country. The Ovaherero and the Nama were the ones killed by the Germans. But I believe that government not approaching and consulting with the descendents of those killed during that war was outside the boundaries of the law.”
He added: “If only they had followed the same method followed during the return of the first skulls. I do not what the haste was all about?”
In October 2011, 20 skulls were repatriated from Germany, although it is suggested that originally about 300 skulls were in the custody of German researchers.
Kandorozu added that talk of there being other skulls, besides those of the Ovaherero and Nama, was not true.
Ingenesia Katataiza was furious at government and bemoaned the treatment being dished out to the effected tribes.
“With the first skulls we informed [the Germans] that they must prepare the remaining skulls and we will come get them. With the return of these skulls we wonder who had sent them [the delegation].”
“I think we must write to the German authority and inform them that we are on our way to get those skulls we asked you to prepare for us. I have tears in my eyes, I am crying, I am hurt. I do not know what to do next.”
Chief Alex Kavei of the Gam area said the only reason behind the boycott is that the communities want to know why government did not consult them over the return of the latest skulls.
“We do not have a problem about who went to fetch the skulls, but for us to be informed that a letter was received from Germany, which allowed them to come get the skulls.
“We might even say that government must find us another country where it will put us, because it does not want us.”
Riruako had earlier said the groups will boycott the return of the skulls until the State apologises for the alleged snubbing.

Namibia: skulls ceremony: take back your horse

President Hifikepunye Pohamba has told Germany that the Namibian government will allow it to take the Reiterdenkmal back to that country, as “the horse is a problem” for the Land of the Brave.
The Head of State was addressing a memorial service this past Friday at the Parliament Gardens, which welcomed back 35 skulls and skeletal remains of Namibians from Germany, when he veered from his speech to tackle “the horse”.
Pohamba said: “When government removed the horse, some were complaining. You go to Germany... they have removed the Berlin Wall, which separated Berlin. The horse is a problem too. The horse must go.”
“Government will allow the horse to go back to Germany.”
The memorial service was attended by former president Dr Sam Nujoma, Ambassador Egon Kochanke, who is Germany’s regional director for Sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel in its Federal Foreign Office, as well as a host of chiefs and other dignitaries.
Pohamba’s remarks were welcomed with cheers and laughter from most of the dignitaries and traditional leaders.
A seemingly angry Pohamba questioned why people were defending the controversial horse, which he said before its removal had overlooked the site of a camp where Namibians had suffered.
“That is insensitive. We are going to replace the horse with something else.
“The horse must go. We can send it to Germany,” he added.

Historically, the Reiterdenkmal honours soldiers and civilians who died on the German side of the Herero and Nama War of 1904-1907.
The statue depicts a soldier riding a horse and raising a gun.
The Reiterdenkmal statue was inaugurated in 1912 by Theodor Seitz, the then governor of German South-West Africa, who the notice says reminded those at the event of the many sacrifices made by the colonial army.
At the time, Seitz explained that the principle behind the monument was to honour the dead and to encourage the living to propagate and build up what was achieved in a war fought for the fatherland.
Before the horse’s removal on Christmas Day last year, Pohamba had criticised the monument during a Heroes’ Day celebration, also last year.
At the time, Pohamba had said: “This monument is a symbol of victory on the side of the Germans. This monument means ‘we have defeated them’. The horse rider must be removed. If they want to take it back to Germany it is also fine, we will not have any objections.”
On Christmas evening last year, the horse was removed under heavy police guard and is currently standing in the courtyard of the Alte Feste Museum in Windhoek.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Sheshe Craft Centre in Wuparo Conservancy, Namibia

Where an old mud and thatch hut stored dusty crafts in dim light for almost two decades, a bright, attractive building now greets travellers on their way to Nkasa Lupala National Park in the southern reaches of the Zambezi Region.
The simple and cost-effective, yet innovative and attractive construction was designed and built by the legendary Trevor Nott.

The concept ensures that maintenance depends only on locally-sourced materials such as thatching grass and reed, while the skeleton structure of solid steel is likely to last for decades.

Sheshe Craft Centre is located in the Wuparo Conservancy, which lies between the Mudumu and Nkasa Lupala National Parks. The new craft centre has changed the first impression for tourists travelling through Sangwali on their way to Nkasa Lupala. What used to be a ramshackle craft outlet passed on the outskirts of the settlement has become an attractive first stop, offering clean flush toilets and wash basins, a picnic area under large shade trees, soft drinks from a solar powered fridge — and a wide range of exquisite crafts for sale.

The beautiful centre with its friendly management has become a welcoming sign for visitors to the area.

Sheshe Craft was first established in 1998 by the local community with support from Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC).

Until recently when tourism development began to open up the area, the number of visitors to Nkasa Lupala were low and consisted only of self-drive camping tourists. The craft outlet thus generated few benefits. Since being managed by the Wuparo Conservancy from 2005 onwards, sales began to slowly increase.

Through the assistance of the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N), the ‘Sheshe Craft Centre’ has now been turned into an attractive and viable craft outlet, as well as an appealing first stop for visitors.

The development of the Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge (also with the support of MCA-N) has significantly increased tourism traffic to the area over the last three years. The Rupara Campsite and other tourism developments have provided further options for visitors.

The developments have breathed new life and enthusiasm into the craft producers of the region, who had become despondent about their supplementary vocation.

People now come from far and wide to deliver crafts for sale, and the core group of craft makers is full of renewed enthusiasm, crafting exciting new products and recruiting other producers.

More benefits were flowing to craft makers and their families during 2013 than ever since the beginning of Sheshe Craft in 1998. The craft outlet is improving the lives of numerous families by supplementing subsistence livelihoods with cash income.

And it is attracting other, often innovative enterprises - the Sheshe Bike Tour Project is a novel idea, hiring bicycles to visitors and locals alike. Visitors can go on leisurely guided village tours by bike, while locals run errands with the cycles. The right approach for the right place is a simple motto, but one that is not always followed during the implementation of rural development projects. Sheshe Craft is a prime example of the value of simplicity, local entrepreneurship and suitability that enables sustainability.

Wanted: Sanet Janse van Rensburg

A woman with many aliases, who allegedly defraud people and disappear with their money is on the run.

The police are looking for Mrs Sanet Janse van Rensburg, (also known as Sanet Kuhn, Sanet Horn, Sanet Behr or Sanet de Waal) in Namibia and in South Africa.

“There is a warrant of arrest out for her in Namibia and a case of fraud (W/BAY CR 82/10/2013) are being investigated against her.

She apparently slipped over the border on January 2014 without a passport.

According to a source she is also wanted by the South African Police. She allegedly stole money from a man where she was employed after he sold a car. She was staying at his house.

She also stole more than N$30 000 from a company in Walvis Bay. Her husband is also searching for her, because he wants to divorce her. Indications are that she is in the Table View suburb in Cape Town at the moment.

The newspaper spoke to one of Sanet's victims. “It is a very long story. There are a lot of people involved who have also been affected by her fraudulent behaviour. I want to speak to you face to face,” he said.

He was invited to the office to share his story, but did not pitch. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Mrs Sanet Janse van Rensburg, (also known as Sanet Kuhn, Sanet Horn, Sanet Behr or Sanet de Waal) can call +264 81 722 8295 (Nampol) or the nearest South African Police branch.

More news on Erindi's sale

Namibian Ministry of Lands and Resettlement has warned the owners of Erindi Game Reserve that the farm may not be sold until such time they complied with the land reform laws of the country.
The ministry’s warning comes after co-owner Gert Joubert gave the government an ultimatum to either buy the farm for the set price of N$1,3 billion or lose out to other potential foreign buyers.

Erindi, which means the place of water in Herero, is a 70 000 hectares estate situated 40km east of the town of Omaruru between the Erongo Mountain Nature Conservancy and the Omatako Mountains and has 12 000 heads of game.

It is one of the largest privately owned game reserves in the world, attracting hundreds of tourists every year.

The ministry says that Joubert cannot sell the land to other buyers, because the government legally has the right of first refusal on any farmland being sold in the country. Only if the government is not interested in buying the land can it be sold to other private buyers, including foreigners.

According to the ministry, the Land Reform Act 6 of 1995, section 17, states that the government shall have the right to purchase agricultural land whenever any owner intends to alienate himself from it.

However, Joubert who bought the farm in 1986 argued that the farm is not agricultural land but falls under the tourism sector, which according to him is not listed under the Land Reform Act 6 of 1995. Erindi comprises of farm plot number 58 and constantia number 60, and thus falls under the constituted field mentioned under the Land Reform Act.

“The ministry is interested in the land and its position is to acquire the land but it is waiting for the farm to be offered again,” said Matongela.

Joubert, who says government is the preferred candidate, expressed fear of not being able to get a fair price for the value of the land.

“I am afraid that the government won’t be fair in handling this matter. I do not trust that they will give the farm its deserved value,” said Joubert, adding that he cannot enter into a deal that he would not benefit from.

“I have tried to convene meetings with the ministry but all attempts were in vain. I am still waiting to meet the prime minister,” said Joubert, who is currently in South Africa.

Air Namibia increases employees' salaries

Air Namibia has averted a strike when it agreed to increase workers’ salaries by 6,4%, backdated to 1 April 2013.
A statement on the salaries’ and substantive agreement between Air Namibia and the Namibia Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Natau) given to the media on Wednesday indicated that the payment of the difference in percentages will be from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014.

“Payment in this regard will be effected with the March 2014 salaries. The additional increment agreed shall be calculated on total cost-to-company, and the cash component of the increment (excluding employment benefits) shall be applied to the basic salary component,” it explained.

The increment excluded employees who were on temporary/short-duration contracts, but were recently appointed on long-term contracts. They will, however, be eligible for the 2014 increments as and when those are agreed on.

This agreement shall finalise the negotiations for the 2013/14 financial year.

Last week, Natau called a strike at Air Namibia if management did not reconsider its position of a 6,4% total-cost-to-company increase, a request made for union members since March 2013.

The negotiations reached a deadlock on 18 November 2013, and workers were issued a certificate of unresolved dispute from the Office of the Labour Commissioner in that regard.

Natau had proposed a seven percent, as well as a nine per cent salary increment to Air Namibia management, to be implemented as from 1 April 2014.

The parties held a meeting on 13 February 2014, where management made a request to Natau to forego the 2013 negotiations and consider fresh 2014 salary negotiations.