2 NEWS Monday, August 14 2017 | NEW ERA SPYL congress slated for Katima this month WINDHOEK The Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) will hold its 6th congress in Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region this month. This was announced by SPYL secretary for information and mobilisation Neville Andre Itope at a media briefing in Katima Mulilo on Friday. Confirming the details of the briefing to Nampa on Saturday, Itope said the congress will be held from August 23 to 27 to elect a new leadership that will run the affairs of the SPYL for the next five years. He said the congress is expected to be attended by 600 delegates from the 14 regions of Namibia. It will be held under the theme, ‘The role of young people in sustainable development’. The SPYL leader also announced that all regions had successfully completed their conferences in preparation for the upcoming congress. Key socio-economic is- Photo: File At the high table… Members of the SPYL national executive committee at a recent media briefing. SPYL will hold its 6th congress in Katima Mulilo from August 23 to 27. sues to be discussed at the congress will include economic transformation, international relations, sports, arts and culture, education, social mobility and health. Itope is says such issues greatly impact the daily lives of young Namibians. Reminding his fellow youth about the recent internal leadership wrangle that ended in court, Itope encouraged them to respect the court ruling and continue to work in unity to maintain the character of the SPYL during the congress. He also emphasised that as the transmission belt of Swapo Party’s ideology, the role of youth leaders is to be the foot soldiers, ensuring that the mother body’s congress resolutions and development programmes are fully implemented. “I would just like to encourage the delegates to prepare themselves for the congress, in terms of the engagements and discussions, to come up with proper resolutions for the congress on youth development,” Itope said. – Nampa RATING From page 1 In response, Minister Schlettwein said Moody’s rating “relied merely on an exchange of e-mails on a single item”, that of outstanding invoices and how government is planning to settle them. “This is highly regrettable. A thorough assessment taking all factors into consideration would have been the proper way in dealing with reviewing Namibia’s sovereign credit rating.” He said a review of Namibia’s rating only four months into the budget implementation for 2017/18 is premature and premised on a very narrow factual base and may very well contain purely speculative conclusions on the performance of the budget over the whole financial year. “The process followed by Moody’s is, therefore, not systematic, as we are busy developing the mid-year budget review and better informed ratings action and effective country assessment could have benefited from the mid-year budget review planned for October 2017,” Schlettwein said. He also said Moody’s statement that there are sizeable fiscal imbalances and an increase in the debt burden does not stand up to the facts. This is because there has been no additional borrowing to pay for the outstanding invoices, of which N,7 billion has already been paid. The payment of those invoices was done from government’s own cash reserves and budgeted funds. “All borrowing undertaken this year are in line with the expectations in the budget,” Schlettwein said. He further dismissed Moody’s statement on the government’s debt level being at 43 percent, saying it currently stands at 41,9 percent and is thus within the threshold of 42 percent of GDP for middle income countries the size of Namibia to be considered sustainable. “It is not the first time that we have exceeded our debt threshold, and we have demonstrated during times of previous external shocks our resolve to reduce debt to within sustainable limits. The resolve of the Namibian government towards prudent, sustainable and stable macroeconomic policies cannot be questioned.” The finance minister was at pains to point out that Moody’s view that the country would not be able to raise enough funds to cover expenditures, given shortfalls in expected revenue from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), as well as an expected increase in expenditure to fund the Swapo congress, was “purely speculative and not evidenced at all”. “The Swapo congress is an inner-party process and the insinuation of budget overruns being caused by the leadership and presidential elections are irresponsible,” he said. VICTIM From page 1 The couple had replaced the locks of the safe after they lost the key. It turned out that their attackers during the robbery tried to use the lost key to open the safe. The three suspects, Daniel Stefanus Nghilifa, 26, Jerobeam Simon Shidute, 23, and Fabianus Lazarus, 24, were denied bail earlier this month during their first appearance in the Swakopmund Magistrate’s Court. The suspects will make a second appearance on September 26 - but now face an additional murder charge. OUTLOOK From page 1 Many institutional investors are legally bound not to invest in bonds rated as junk. Those that do, demand higher returns for their investment. Thus, the ratings system is part of the chain of international debt bondage, by which higher profits are squeezed out of poorer countries and by which the developmental plans and aspirations of these countries are subdued and curtailed. The fact that Namibia has not defaulted on any single scheduled debt repayment to date – at least not since 1984 – appears not to have affected Moody’s assessment. The question we should ask though is whether Moody’s view is an entirely objective assessment, or whether the vested interests of the bankers, hedge fund managers, speculators and their financial advisers that stand to gain from higher profits on debt repayment have any role in shaping their purportedly ‘negative’ outlook on Namibia. Moody’s analysts say, for example, that Namibia’s “vulnerability to shocks has recently risen” and then proceeds directly to apply a major shock to the economy in the form of a sudden downgrade. It is clear from Moody’s prescription that the financiers on whose behalf they speak are in fact calling for greater austerity measures and deeper budget cuts to be imposed by the Namibian government on an already burdened population. In the fashion of outmoded psychiatry – the doctors propose to cure the patient by liberally applying shocks to the body and brain. There is no evidence that this has helped in the past. They demand more budget cuts from us to win the favour of the Wall Street analysts and bankers, but inevitably, at home the burden of these cuts tend to fall on the most vulnerable, on those who most need social welfare, healthcare, housing, education, on those whose voices are rarely heard. The ratings agency said one key reason for downgrading Namibia’s bond credit rating had to do “with a sizeable increase in the country’s wage bill,” which amounted to 40% of total expenditure in 2016/17. High wages for African workers is an idea that has long been frowned upon in the West. What the bankers and their advisors in New York are in effect saying is they want the government to enforce lower wages, or to suppress wages – despite the fact that wages here lag far behind the western world. This is a difficult proposition in itself and pregnant with social conflict and disaster. The measures demanded by Moody’s are difficult to impose politically on a population intent on protecting by any means necessary the gains they have made, and would be even more painful economically, because it means cutting services to the bone – in a country rated as one of the most unequal in the world. To the casual observer, Moody’s is in effect demanding of the country to commit collective economic suicide, or at least the culling of a large section of society, as that seems the only thing that would satisfy the bankers in New York. As the ‘structural adjustment programmes’ imposed on sub-Saharan countries by the World Bank and IMF did in the 1980s and 90s, there is no doubt that if implemented to the letter, these added austerity measures prescribed by Moody’s would further reduce the quality and length of life of people in Namibia. So, before one goes worshipping at the feet of these distant but allknowing analysts and speculators, it is necessary to take stock of the fact that they’re calling for more austerity to be imposed by holding down wages, reducing social spending, and further opening up our markets to western capital on reduced terms and at “higher yields”, higher profits – which is the real bottomline here. Moody’s analysts seem to subscribe to the school of thought, which holds that there is no such thing as a disaster that one cannot profit from – even if it means creating such a disaster where none exists. This is disaster capitalism at work: with sudden violent economic and psychological shocks, the financiers hope to subdue whole nations into compliance and wipe from their hearts and memories the need to resist the rapacious and insatiable greed of the distant moneymen, who continue to make and manipulate the rules of international finance.
Monday, August 14 2017 | NEW ERA NEWS 3 State House brushes off scrapping free education allegations WINDHOEK The Office of the President has refuted allegations circulating on social media that President Hage Geingob said primary and secondary education would no longer be free. The false information has been posted by unidentifed persons on social media since Saturday, shortly after the Swapo Party concluded its Central Committee meeting. The posts allege that Geingob cancelled free education on grounds that government could no longer afford it and that he blamed the late minister of education, Abraham Iyambo, for introducing free primary and secondary education, referring to the decision as a mistake. According to the posts, the president allegedly also said that he never supported the idea. The press secretary in the Office of the President, Albertus Aochamub, on Sunday told Nampa that the information is entirely false. “It is illogical that something like that can be factual,” he said. Similarly, responding to Nampa on Sunday Swapo Party secretary general Nangolo Mbumba said the Constitution is clear and nobody in Namibia could deprive any child of free education. “I do not know the source of that information, but you know that it is election time and those stories circulating are aimed at putting the president in a bad light,” he said. Mbumba added that the Namibian Constitution was clear in that every child in Namibia must attend school from the age of seven to 16 years. – Nampa Photo: Nampa Fake news… State House yesterday dismissed as “totally false” allegations that plans to scrap free education were under discussion. President takes exception to Moody’s congress innuendo Staff Reporter Windhoek President Hage Geingob has hit back at the ratings agency, Moody’s, for its latest downgrade of Namibia’s unsecured bonds to junk status, saying the agency’s premise for its latest verdict on the country’s prospects was purely speculative. The president in particular took issue with the suggestion by Moody’s that his administration would increase spending so as to influence the outcome of the upcoming Swapo elective congress in November. Geingob believes the agency was too trigger-happy to downgrade the country, without considering the many positives at play. “We believe material factors which point towards an improvement of our fiscal position were not taken into consideration,” Geingob said at the opening of the Swapo Party Central Committee meeting on Saturday. The president said nothing substantive had changed since the country’s last rating in December and that factors relied upon by Moody’s to justify the downgrade were purely speculative and even extend to passing judgment on the democratic right of President Hage Geingob people within the governing party to freely express themselves in the run-up to and at the upcoming Swapo congress. “We are disturbed by the reference to the Swapo congress of 2017 and national elections of 2019,” Geingob said, adding that it was nothing but unfounded speculation to say the government would increase expenditure to advance partisan political objectives. He said the suggestion by Moody’s was plainly “untrue and regrettable”. He further said the country’s expenditure prerogatives are detailed in the national budget and will be further verified in the mid-year budget review in October. “It is therefore not true that there will be an increase in spending in the run-up to the Swapo congress. We have not deviated from our programme to consolidate fiscal spending and we’re not going to do so in the three months leading up to the congress,” President Geingob told the Central Committee. He said Swapo is a mature political party under whose watch free, peaceful and democratic elections regularly take place. “We have no concern about the outcome of the 2019 national and presidential elections, as we are a party which has and continues to enjoy the trust of the masses,” he said. Esau suspends fishing permit fee hike Eveline de Klerk Walvis Bay Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Bernard Esau has confirmed that the plan to hike recreational fishing permits to N,500 has been suspended with immediate effect. Esau during a breakfast meeting of the Namibia Fish Consumption Promotion Trust in Walvis Bay on Friday announced that the N,500 permit would be scrapped immediately and that the ministry will revert to the N$14 monthly fee for recreational fishing permits. The fee for recreational fishing permits was increased in June from N$14 to N,500, a move for which the ministry came under fire from locals and visitors. The ministry was particularly singled out for criticism by subsistence fishermen at the coast. On Friday, however, Minister Esau said he had requested the minister of justice to withdraw the notice, so that proper consolations can be conducted with all relevant stakeholders. “Yes, I’ve requested the minister of justice to withdraw Notice 158 that regulates recreational fishing permit fees for the time being. “As a minister I want to see democracy take place and thus proper consultation should also be done with the relevant stakeholders before we make a decision on such an increase.” Esau added that a new pricing structure for fees would be set up only after a process of consultation with all stakeholders, thus the N$14 price for recreational permits will remain in force for the time being. Fishing experts last week also questioned the vastly increased recreational fishing levy, saying it was indeed a recipe for illegal fishing, as the ministry had increased the levy without considering the legal aspect. The current fine for illegal fishing is N0, which meant it would have been cheaper to pay the fine than for Minister Bernard Esau the permit. Swakopmund-based subsistence fisherman Johannes van Wyk told New Era yesterday that he could not contain his joy when news of the old fees having been reinstated reached him on Friday. “We are really thankful that the minister listened to our pleas and decided to consult with all of us before increasing the levy,” he said. Boy kills stepdad ‘while defending his mother’ Matheus Hamutenya Keetmanshoop A 17-year-old boy allegedly stabbed and killed his stepfather while trying to defend his mother at their home in Mariental’s Ombili settlement. It is alleged that the teenage suspect stabbed Lazarus Matheus, 46, in his left shoulder on Saturday, thus causing his death. Hardap regional crime investigations coordinator Deputy Commissioner Eric Clay confirmed the murder, saying the relationship between the parents was known to be abusive, noting that the deceased was known to beat up his wife. “We understand it was an abusive relationship and this time the son of the woman tried to defend her, but he unfortunately killed his stepfather in the process,” he said. The young suspect has since been arrested and is expected to appear in court today. In another case of unnatural death, an 82-year-old man identified as Wouter De Vos Moolman shot and killed himself with a 7.64 calibre rifle at Farm Durugaus in the Rehoboth district. It is alleged the pensioner shot himself in the chest and died on the spot. A worker discovered his body on Thursday morning. He is said to have left behind two suicide notes, but the police would not share any details regarding what is contained in the notes, saying it is a private family matter.