8 Wednesday 9 May 2018 NEW ERA COLUMNS Congrats for Otjinene’s Expo No. 3 STRIDES with Uncle Bob Kandetu Otjinene settlement is surrounded by the largest constituency in the Omaheke Region and equally boasts the largest cattle population of all the Omaheke communal areas. It is not coincidental that the settlement was the first to be proclaimed as village council from among the five targeted by the government’s decentralization drive. Since the settlement moved along to proclamation, the village council has vigorously promoted development and mounted numerous schemes to this effect. Among the projects undertaken is their Annual Agricultural and Industrial Expo that has ever since attracted investors to the village for the last three years. Many corporates, semi-state and nonstate actors have over the years flocked to the settlement in search of business opportunities and many have found some potential leads to explore, while industrial and other plots have sold like hot cakes, albeit at a pace that some regard as sluggish at best. An added advantage to the promising expansion of business opportunities is the tar road that branches off the Trans Kalahari Highway at Gobabis to link with Grootfontein in the chest of the country. This road was completed in 2017 and was recently commissioned by Namibia’s Head of State. This road was planned and budgeted for over twenty years back, but funds had to be redirected to other projects, much to the dismay and consternation of the Omaheke and Otjozondjupa residents. In the end the regions celebrated a happy ending and the road is now fully operational, cutting the distance between Otjinene and Grootfontein to just 228 kilometres. This road has also reduced the distance between Gobabis and Grootfontein via Windhoek with a staggering 280 kilometres. That in itself is a huge positive and many motorists, heavy duty drivers in particular, those who travel from South Africa, cannot appreciate enough what this means to their business, personal safety of the drivers and from the hassles of traffic offence fines along the road. This year’s expo was regarded as rather low-key compared to the preceding two. It got off to a slow start and the Saturday activities on the premises were sidetracked by the horse racing event ten kilometres outside the village. Komberetha jo Muramba was doing her final race as the horse was officially retiring and you had to be insensitive not to witness that historic event. The day culminated in a big bash that brought together the combination of the regular expo revelers and those who came only for the horse racing. And the evening showcased reputed names in the music industry, the likes of Big Ben, The Dogg, Ongoro noMundu and Diop. The highlight of the expo was the small and large stock shows on display from farmers across the Omaheke, Erongo and Otjozondjupa regions. The mainstay of the large stock was the Brahman breed while the show was stolen by the Feld Master, Dorper and Damara sheep on the small stock side. From the results obtained and the prizes scooped, it seems that Namibia’s communal farmers are of age and they compete favorably with the commercial farmers for placing the best products on the market. The Omaheke Regional Council has for yeas prepared a number of settlements for proclamation and to this effect in 2003 the council organized consultative workshops as prelude. One such initiative was termed “The Change Project of the Omaheke Regional Council”. A series of workshops took place in Otjinene, Epukiro, Otjombinde, Khoridor Number 13 and Aminuis. The workshops started with a twoday consultation in Otjinene with Governor Veendapi McLeod of Omaheke leading the drive. McLeod opened the meeting with the message that the challenges facing Omaheke were enormous and the solutions had to come from the people of Omaheke themselves, with assistance from the government and elsewhere, not the converse. I participated in this exercise as private consultant to the project. I developed the conceptual framework and roadmap, the speaking notes for the principal actors, facilitated the workshops and crafted the final reports. My conclusion after all these was that the exercise was plausible, albeit with attendant challenges such as the infrastructure that was in a state of disrepair. The three schools were the hardest hit and to date not much has changed. Utility bills were unpaid and this was not happening inadvertently. There was tenuous commitment on the part of the communities to the facilities of the settlements and this situation seems to have persisted to date. Some of these settlements had no functioning settlement committees and those that had, the committees often lacked purpose. It seems that the Otjinene Village Council grapples with most if not all of the challenges that were articulated in 2003. It is caught between a rock and a hard place. Council must generate income from the local economy in order to provide needed services, but the community remains reluctant to contribute rates and taxes. The alternative is for the village council to entice investors and the drive is on. Otjinene has moved along steadily and the current breed of councillors and their development personnel seem engaged in a hard mission. Only time will tell how the Otjinene development project will unfold and progress. Second land conference, corruption and the Afrobarometer results Affirmative Repositioning (AR), the only realistic force in the affirmation of the rights of the landless and poor black people, observes with despondency the overwhelming expectations from many Namibians who, whenever they are victimized, whenever they witness corrupt deeds and whenever they are threatened by the corrupt and powerful, find cover, support, sympathy and empathy in AR. The masses of our people no longer have confidence in institutions of state which were established to assist them. Correctly so, they view these institutions as captured zones working in the interest of the elite and ready to surrender the poor at the caprice of the corrupt. We are saddened because of the fact that in these captured institutions (Parliament, Councils, Ministries, Anti-Corruption Commission, Ombudsman, some components of the judiciary and others) are individuals who are paid to assist the poor. Although we are disappointed in this state of affairs, we will never stop assisting the poor because doing so would be tantamount to a refusal to participate and shape an ensuing revolutionary situation which will culminate in revolutionary outcomes in the not too distant future. Afrobarometer survey results A few weeks ago, the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) released the results of the house-to-house Afrobarometer International Survey. In this survey, conducted across all 14 regions and 121 constituencies, it found that 41% of Namibians confirmed that AR has been successful in raising and addressing the question of the pain and suffering of the landless as it relates to land and housing. While we are convinced that a targeted – as opposed to a general study – would have arrived at a different conclusion, we welcome this study because it is the first scientific and international evidence-based analysis on the work of AR since 2014. We particularly take note of the findings of the study that while 41% of Namibians support the AR method and approach on the land question, only 10% of Namibians believe that opposition parties were influential on the land question. October 2018 land conference We take note of President Hage Geingob’s announcement during the State of the Nation Address that the second national land conference will finally take place, if not again postponed, in October 2018. Unlike other stakeholders who view the envisaged land conference as a somewhat Christmas where Santa Claus will arrive with a bowl of land and housing, our experience with and government record of negotiating in bad faith places us on the side of extreme caution as we approach this conference. Our understanding is that conferences and policies do not have the force of law. Looked at closely, this conference may just be another political gimmick like the one held in 1991. After accepting the property clause in the constitution, politicians went on to convene the 1991 conference while Job shipululo Amupanda knowing very well that the fate of the land question has been sealed by the that neoliberal constitution. President Geingob, who chaired the 1991 land conference, while knowing that a resolution was taken against foreign land ownership, went ahead to negotiate a private land deal, which gave Chinese businessman Jack Huang access to our land. While there is a resolution of the 1991 land conference which he chaired, his lands minister, Utoni Nujoma, is about to hand over three farms with cabinet support, if he has already not done so, to a Russian billionaire Rashid Sardarov. Recently, a SWAPO-run Oshakati Town Council wanted to sell land to Maphios Cheda, a Zimbabwean judge. What would exactly make the resolutions of October any different from the 1991 land conference with the same chairman, same context and increased and stronger predatory elite? Like the 1991 land conference, whose outcomes were predetermined and all domestic papers presented by whites, with indigenous communities limited to mere statements, there is nothing to make us believe that this conference will not be another political gimmick. The fight against corruption In terms of public confidence, AR has since taken over the work of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) although not having the legal mandate and institutional capacity. It has become evidently clear that the ACC is an instrument in the hands of the elites. Instead of reporting corruption to the ACC, most Namibians prefer to approach AR in order for their concerns to be taken seriously. In response to this reality, the AR legal team has been hard at work creating an institution that will have a legal mandate and institutional capacity to deal with prosecutorial and litigation matters as it relates to social justice, economic freedom, governance and transparency. We call on all AR activists to continue fighting, investigating and exposing corruption while we are setting up the framework to assist our people.
Inside Google changes rules for buying election adverts Page 10 This news is your business RFA’s automated Mass Distance Charges could double revenue Wednesday 9 May 2018 New long-haul connection between Windhoek and Munich The RFA is forging ahead with an automated Mass Distance Charging system which CEO, Ali Ipinge, says has the potential to double the revenue collected. Photo for illustration only. Photo: Contributed •Edgar Brandt WINDHOEK - The Road Fund Administration’s (RFA) plan to increase its revenue collection by automating Mass Distance Charges, which has been hailed as a first for Africa, could actually double the revenue collected from this service. During the 2017/18 financial year, the RFA collected about N0 million from Mass Distance Charges alone. The RFA revealed plans to automate Mass Distance Charges in its five-year business plan, which runs from April 2018 to March 2023. RFA Chief Executive Officer, Ali Ipinge, yesterday said by deploying the envisaged technology, the RFA will be able to eliminate false and erroneous declarations of the distance heavy vehicles have travelled on Namibia’s roads. The envisaged technology is expected to track the distance covered by vehicles exceeding a Gross Vehicle Mass of 3,5 tonnes, and automatically report kilometres travelled to a central system. Heavy vehicles have been identified as the main culprits in eroding the national road network hence the need for these vehicles to foot more of the road maintenance and rehabilitation bill. The consumption of roads increases more sharply with the increase of a vehicle’s mass. The introduction of an automated Mass Distance Charge is one of the RFA’s strategies to increase its revenue collection efforts, which are in turn used to maintain and preserve the national road network as well as urban roads and streets. This is achieved through funding allocation to approved authorities, chief among these being the Roads Authority, local authorities and traffic law enforcement. It has been reported that the planned automation could possibly be combined with an Automatic Number Plate Recognition system to improve compliance and law enforcement, as well as a Radio Frequency Identification tag in each affected vehicle. Currently, heavy vehicle drivers use a logbook system where they record distance travelled on Namibian roads. These distances are recorded and the calculated mass distance charges are then paid over to RFA on a monthly or annual basis. The logbooks contain about 50 pages and have to be filled in whenever the driver stops to overnight. The RFA has repeatedly stated that the current system has numerous shortcomings resulting in a significant amount of revenue being lost on an annual basis. Namibian law enforcement may at any time request a heavy vehicle operator to present their logbook. When owners and operators of Namibian registered vehicles are caught without, or an incomplete logbook, such owners or operator may be fined on the spot or face prosecution. An owner or operator who commits an offence in this regard is liable to be fined. •Staff Reporter WINDHOEK - One of Europe’s fastest growing airlines, Eurowings, yesterday officially expanded its portfolio from Namibia with the introduction of return flights between Windhoek and Munich, Germany. Return flights to the Bavarian capital in Southern Germany can now be booked, starting from about US0 each way, or N 750 at today’s exchange rate. The first flight, operated with an Airbus 330 longhaul jet, arrived early yesterday morning. Eurowings has already been operating successfully in the long-haul segment for over two years. Only recently, the first Eurowings long-haul flights from Eurowings’ newest long-haul Base Munich took off connecting Munich with Las Vegas and Mauritius. With the Munich to Windhoek route, Eurowings is now offering an attractive connection between the southern part of Germany and Namibia. Dr André Schulz, General Manager at Lufthansa Group Southern Africa, said: “Eurowings is glad to add the route Windhoek to Munich. Our new flight to Munich will provide an efficient connection to the Bavarian capital. H o l i d a y m a k e r s can visit its many museums, stroll t h r o u g h t h e English Garden or experience nature in the surrounding region while business travellers have a direct flight opportunity to the southern part of Germany.” Eurowings offers a large number of connecting flights via Munich to Europe and worldwide. Thanks to the extensive codeshare agreement w i t h L u f t h a n s a , Eurowings customers in Munich can also transfer quickly to destinations in the parent company’s network. “The new route is also attractive for the German market. The reasons are well known, as Namibia is renowned for its amazing nature and the fascinating wildlife, “concluded Schulz E u r o w i n g s i s now offering three weekly flights to Germany. The airline already serves the Cologne to Windhoek route and has now enlarged its long haul portfolio to and from Munich. Book NOW! 2018 State Owned Enterprises Supplement Focusing on Namibia’s SOEs & how they can better support our economy. Loyde Meroro Sales & Marketing Executive: Tel: +264 61 208 0323 Email: email@example.com Guaranteeing returns, as we reach your target markets. #TalkToUs Contact us: Tel: +264 61 208 0800 | Website: www.nepc.com.na