2 Wednesday 9 May 2018 NEW ERA NEWS TRADE From page 1 There is already a problem with the time frame, with Africa’s biggest economies saying it is unrealistic as it is too short a notice to wrap up negotiations among the African countries that already signed up to the agreement. Moulded in the form of the European Union’s version of free trade, the AfCFTA presents immense opportunities for African countries t o t r a d e a m o n g themselves in a market valued at nearly US trillion (about N.6 trillion) without trade restrictions such as tariffs. By signing up to the AfCFTA individual African countries agree to remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods, with only 10 percent of tariffs applicable on specially defined goods when trading with one another. It also asks African countries to give preference to ‘Made in Africa’ goods, which, while it is good news, poses a challenge when it comes to ensuring quality standards on goods. Currently not all African countries h a v e t h e s a m e quality standards and the regulation and enforcement of these standards vary. This is to the extent that multinational companies trading in consumer goods package goods differently, according to markets where the goods go, to ensure, and pass the inspection of, the varying quality standards in each of the countries they export to. “We might have sent missing or confusing signals but we are committed to the reform. We will be part and parcel of that reform. We would like things to be done in a consultative and inclusive way so we follow all the steps, so there is no way to say I was not part of it once it is implemented. We will implement Agenda 2063 and its first 10- year implementation plan in order to achieve the Africa we want,” Geingob told Mahamat. The establishment of the AfCFTA is the first Agenda 2063 flagship project on target for completion within the roadmap established in pursuance of Agenda 2063’s First Ten Year Implementation Plan, aimed at boosting Africa’s economic growth and intra- African trade through integration by creating a ‘One African Market’. Without going into details, Geingob said the government got a report from the Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development Minister Tjekero Tweya who attended the meeting of ministers on the issue. “He gave us a … report. We are happy with his report and we will sign. We will make that commitment we didn’t make that time. Our fears are not that we are against the idea. We are Pan-Africanists. We believe in the unity of Africa. Africa has been on our side – as a small country we think we can only be strong if we are united. Therefore, we comply with all the requirements that I think AU requires from us,” Geingob noted. The AfCFTA gives birth to the world’s largest free trade area since the World Trade Organization was formed in 1995. Geingob noted AfCFTA is an integral part of the broader African integration and development agenda, as expounded in Agenda 2063; it represents an important achievement in the fulfillment of the Pan- African aspirations of the founding fathers of the OAU, who wished for a united and peaceful Africa, enjoying inclusive growth, sustainable development and socioeconomic prosperity. RFA From page 1 “The consistent annual growth of between 4 to 6 percent in vehicle population as well as total annual distance travelled on the Namibian road network, coupled with adverse climatic conditions, have resulted in traffic-induced deterioration and natural depreciation of our national and urban roads; hence the increased need for more funding to maintain this national asset – our roads,” said RFA CEO, Ali Ipinge, yesterday when announcing the increase. The RFA manages the Road Fund into which the road user charges accrue. These funds are allocated to projects and programs to maintain and preserve the national road network as well as urban roads and streets. This is achieved Kandjoze pledges to do more with less •Kuzeeko Tjitemisa WINDHOEK - Minister of Economic Planning and Director General of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Obeth Kandjoze says that due to the limited budget the commission foresees challenges in executing some of its national activities. He said despite embracing the notion of “doing more with less” MASS HOUSES From page 1 “I am very disappointed to learn that the Deeds of Donation is still cited as one of the reasons why the potential beneficiaries cannot occupy the houses,” said Klazen. “Therefore, I am puzzled that we are still talking today about houses not yet allocated because the transfer of land has not yet taken place,” he said. “There are delays in Keetmanshoop, Mariental, Karasburg, Henties Bay and Khorixas, because of those deeds. In the meantime through funding allocation to approved authorities, chief among these being the Roads Authority, local authorities and traffic law enforcement. Total revenue raised by the Road Fund through the road user charges accelerated from N.21 billion in 2016/17 to N.35 billion in 2017/18. This figure is projected to increase above inflation at 11 percent to N.6 billion in the 2018/19 financial year. “To ensure a sustainable road sector, which is key contributor to the national GDP, we have to call on our road users for an increased contribution through the road user charging system for own benefit,” said Ipinge. He noted however that the country is facing a funding gap in excess of N0 million per annum in terms of what is required to optimally maintain the country’s roads and streets. “In an effort to maintain a good balance between the everincreasing road infrastructure expenditure and revenue collections from road user charges, the need to secure annual inflationary adjustments on the road user charges remains ever important,” Ipinge noted. He added that although the RFA received an inflationary adjustment during the 2017/18 financial year, the Road Fund continues to experience slower growth due to declines in the sales of new vehicles which have impacted on the vehicle licence and registration fee income. In addition, the reduction in national economic activities over the past two years or so had a knock-on effect on all the commission will be unable to execute the 2012 Pre-enumeration Population and Housing Census, Agricultural and Labour Survey and monitoring and evaluation of the National Development Plans. “With our current limited budget allocation we may not be able to carry out the abovementioned activities which serve as sources of information for planning and decision-making at various levels,” he said, adding that, therefore, a limited budget hampers effective monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects. Kandjoze said this in parliament when motivating the commission’s 2018/19 budget of N1 million which represents an 8.5 percent reduction from the N6 million allocated the previous financial year. The budget allocation is premised on the implementation of the National Development Plan 5 winter is again upon us and the houses are empty with government forking our millions to guard the houses, money that could have been used to build other houses. In the meantime, those with the responsibility to see that these houses get allocated ignore clear directives,” Klazen said. Many local authorities are yet to complete the transfer of land from NHE to town councils’ books. Klazen says this is despite the clear directives issued to all local authority councils. He mentioned a meeting that sat sometime in April 2016 as the last meeting where guidelines were issued as to how councils should speed up the transfer of land that was allocated to the NHE for the construction of houses in the country. An agitated Klazen was speaking at a consultative meeting with Swakopmund’s local authority leaders and regional NHE branch officials. Klazen added that local authorities when experiencing problems with the directives should have consulted with the ministry instead of ignoring it. He specifically singled out the Swakopmund Municipality and NHE, urging them to foster major economic sectors, which has led to a reduction in the consumption of fuel in the economy and thus a reduced contribution of fuel levy income to RFA revenue. “The RFA anticipates this trend to continue into the foreseeable future, therefore making the tariff increments important in sustaining our existing strategy to close the funding gap,” Ipinge explained. Also, the RFA has committed to undertaking loans to bridge the funding gap. These include two loans from German Development Bank, KfW, of N7 million (used for phase one of the Windhoek to Okahandja Duel Carriageway Road Project) and N2 million (to be used for the rehabilitation of 88 km of the Mariental to Keetmanshoop road). (NDP5), macroeconomic research, data collection and planning and policy coordination. He said while a lot has been achieved since the establishment of the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), which is allocated about 58 percent of the commission budget, more still needs to be done to strengthen the national statistics management. “ C a p a c i t y e n h a n c e m e n t across the national statistical system is crucial to enable proper identification, prioritisation and tracking of the country’s development interventions to inform policy planning, decision-making and monitoring and evaluation,” he said. Kandjoze says during this year of reckoning, the NPC pledges to do its utmost best to ensure service delivery to citizens in an accountable and transparent manner. closer relations. “It’s imperative that these houses are allocated. The municipality must make sure that the transfer of land to beneficiaries is completed within 30 days from today. NHE must then make sure that it is registered in the names of the beneficiaries within seven days and submit a report to the ministry in this regard,” Klazen said. NHE was to construct 1,500 houses in Swakopmund of which 670 were already handed over and 137 should already have been completed, while the rest are under construction. 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Wednesday 9 May 2018 NEW ERA NEWS 3 Simataa doubts ranking is due to absence of access to information law •Alvine Kapitako WINDHOEK - The Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Stanley Simataa yesterday said it remains ‘doubtful’ that Namibia’s decline in ranking as first in press freedom in Africa is because of its lack of Access to Information law. The Minister said Namibia would do everything possible to finalise the Access to Information Bill. It remains doubtful, however, whether it would have had an impact on Namibia’s ranking because Namibia continued to take first place in Africa even without an Access to Information Bill, the minister said. “Even Ghana that toppled Namibia is yet to conclude its Access to Information Bill,” said Simataa who spoke at the official World Press Freedom Day event. Namibia dropped two places from 24th position, while Ghana at 23 is now Africa’s top country regarding media freedom. Reporters Without Borders said although Namibia’s Constitution guarantees free speech and protects journalists, the lack of a freedom of information law continues to obstruct their work. “Those who dare to criticise the authorities are often the target of government threats and seek a refuge on the internet, where they are not subject to control. At the same time, self-censorship is common in the state-owned media,” according to Reporters Without Borders. •Alvine Kapitako WINDHOEK - The nomination of professor Nico Horn to the United Nations Human Rights Committee is historical in the sense that no Namibian was previously nominated to the committee. Horn is a University of Namibia (UNAM) law lecturer and constitutional expert. “No Namibian was ever nominated to serve on a Human Rights Committee so it is quite historical for me and for the country as well,” said Horn who explained the nomination and election process in an interview with New Era. The election is on June, 14 at the UN headquarters in New York and preparations are underway to lobby a seat for Namibia on the Human Rights Committee. The International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the treaty body for which the Human Rights Committee “Pro-government media receives a large chunk of their revenue available from advertising, which threatens the financial prospects of the privately-owned media and independent news coverage,” he said. There will be a thorough review, analysis and assessments to determine what has led to the steady decline of Namibia’s ranking over the years, including being ‘toppled by Ghana’ to second place so that we are guided by facts, said the minister. “We intend to reclaim top spot because it belongs to us. That’s how serious we are as Namibians. We intend to topple Norway, which ranks first in the world. Why not? It can be done,” remarked the minister. He said on a day such as World Press Freedom Day the focus should not only be on what Government is doing or not doing because “we are actively participating in this space. You too are players in this space. Members of the media need to bring their part to the party”. The media fraternity should address the proliferation of fake news on social media platforms, added Simataa, stating that media practitioners sometimes fail to resist citing sources on social media platforms, which may not be correct as little verification is done. “We have the responsibility to protect the public from wrong information. It’s a very delicate issue. The media should reflect on their effectiveness in carrying out their mandate,” said Simataa. UN Human Rights Committee nomination a first for Namibia takes responsibility, has 169 member countries, explained Horn. Horn who was nominated by the Minister of Justice Sacky Shanghala further explained that he was nominated for one of eight seats. The human rights committee, to which Horn was nominated, administers the Covenant on Civil and Political rights. In the human rights system there are two covenants, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Social and Economic rights. “Those are the two main ones because they are the cornerstones for the rest of the conventions. All the rights that you can think of are either from socio economic issues or political and civil issues so it is an important body. There are eight vacant posts. They have eighteen members and every four years, eight people resign from their positions,” explained Horn. The eight new members will only start in January 2019 after the election in June. There are 169 countries belonging to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and each country has one vote. “It is an open vote. There must be at least two thirds of the countries that ratified the Covenant on Civil and Political rights present on election day at the United Nations in New York City,” Horn said. Last year, Horn was nominated for the C o n v e n t i o n f o r t h e Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and lost by two votes. “We did not have much time to organise anything because I was nominated about two weeks before the elections so we quickly had to make arrangements to get to New York to lobby there, and I did not have much time to speak to Namibians. This year, we thought it is just important that the Namibian Stanley Simataa, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology. He also stated that the qualified journalists are fear as many have left the profession and therefore, “concerted efforts should be made to build capacity of upcoming journalists”. During a panel discussion, the Executive Chairperson of the Namibia Media Trust and founder of The Namibian newspaper, Gwen Lister said that the media has to look at the quality of content that they put out in the public domain. She also made reference to a survey that she conducted with the youth last year and found that most of them get their news from social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and print (media) is in the fourth place. However, in terms of trusting sources of information, Lister found that print, radio, television were still trusted sources of information while social media came in fourth place. Admitting that digitalisation is a threat to the traditional media, Lister said there has been a decline in the past year of newspaper sales and advertising in the mainstream media. “We have to be creative to get back the youth,” she said, stressing that the youth who are the majority are getting their news from unknown news sources on social media platforms. people at least know what’s going on,” said Horn. The people in Namibia do not understand the process, he explained. “Everybody wanted to know how they could vote but its countries that vote. So our ambassador will be there to vote on behalf of Namibia,” he said. He also explained the functions of the human rights committee, saying it deals with issues related to civil and political rights. That includes civil issues, he stated. The committee observes voting rights in the member countries, they observe political freedom in member countries, and limitation of civil rights, amongst others. “One of the functions of the committee is also to release papers on relevant issues. There are always questions on for example, when do you break a covenant. There is a reporting system where the Human Rights Committee has the opportunity to evaluate progress of new democratic countries and the consistency of all democratic countries,” said Horn. Avid judgment this Friday •Roland Routh WINDHOEK - Judgment in the long running Avid corruption and theft trial in the Windhoek High Court involving N million of the Social Security Commission (SSC) that went missing through a dubious i n v e s t m e n t d e a l between December 2004 and August 2005 is scheduled for Friday at 10H00. High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg announced this yesterday after hearing closing arguments from the defense counsels in the matter that is coming from May 2014 when all the accused pleaded not guilty to all charges. The charges are in connection with a SSC investment of N million that was placed with an asset management company, A v i d I n v e s t m e n t Corporation, owned by the late Lazarus K a n d a r a , a n d channelled to another asset management company, Namangol Investments, in January 2005. The State is alleging that of the N million that the SSC transferred to Avid to be invested, N.5 million was transferred to Namangol Investments, which was owned and run by Nico Josea. Of this money, some N.9 million landed in Josea’s personal bank account in mid-March 2005, and he went on to deal with the money as if it was his own, it is also alleged. Kandara died in apparent suicide just hours after he was arrested. The judge already dismissed some of the charges the accused persons faced and the defense now wants the accused to be acquitted on the rest of the charges. Sisa Namandje who represents former Member of Parliament Paulus Kapia argued that the State failed miserably to prove any of their allegations against him. According to him the only thing his client is guilty of is being naïve and ignorant as he accepted to serve as a director of Avid without any experience and skill in the field and this is not a crime, it can happen to any novice. He asked the court to acquit Kapia on the remaining two charges he face – fraud and reckless or fraudulent conduct of business. Pedrie Theron, the lawyer for Inez /Gâses argued that his client as an innocent pawn in the plans of Kandara. He asked the court to condone her gullibility and acquit her as she only followed orders from someone she trusted. According to Gilroy Kasper who represented Otniel Podewiltz, Sharon B l a a u w a n d h e r husband Ralph Blaauw there is really only one question in this case, which is: Did the Avid role-players know what was planned behind the scenes with regard to the SSC funds hence approaching the SSC with the sole purpose to defraud SSC? “Considering all available evidence as a whole it is our respectful submission that the answer to the above question is a definite and big no,” he stated. On behalf of retired Brigadier Mathias Shiweda, his lawyer Jan Wessels argued that Shiweda too was not involved in the day to day running of the company and thus cannot be guilty of something he had nothing to do with. W i t h r e g a r d s to Josea, his State funded lawyer, Slysken Makando argued that in the absence of a direct link between Josea and the SSC money, the court cannot convict. According to Makando, the State had to prove besides elements such as unlawfulness, intention, appropriation of property, that Josea was entrusted with the N million of the SSC and/or that he was not an innocent party, in that he knew that the money paid into Namangol’s account by Kandara was stolen cash of the SSC and that after such discovery he regardless committed acts of misappropriation.