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Iono - Behind the Bulletins

Week in Review - 24 February 2018

Namibia could be at least a little bit proud as we found out that we remain one of the least corrupt nations in Africa according to Transparency International. We ranked 53rd out of 180 countries and in sub-Saharan Africa were beaten by only Botswana and The Seychelles. In other local news Minister of Health Bernard Haufiku seemed keen to reignite the abortion debate as he spoke about young people needing to be empowered on the use of family planning, the Namibian War Veterans Trust, representing ex SWATF and Koevoet soldiers once again postponed their march to state house, there was also new debate about whether all victims and survivors of bomb blasts which took place during the war for liberation should be commemorated on the same day, and we learnt that last week Namibia had experience two minor earth tremors. Further to that President Hage Geingob relieved Immanuel Ngatjizeko from his duties as Minister of Presidential Affairs due to ill health, and Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta hinted that Namibia could move to ban plastic bags within two years.
 
Things got quite a bit tougher for South Africans this week as Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba delivered his 2018 budget which included increases in the fuel levy, taxes on luxury goods, and a 1 percentage point increase in the VAT rate, responding to new president Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation address on Friday night, Julius Malema warned him not to bluff about following through on his promise of expropriation without compensation, while both Malema and DA leader Mmusi Maimane during the SONA debate told the president that he must fire errant ministers from his cabinet. Still in South Africa the Finance Minister confirmed that there is no way that South Africa can afford nuclear at this point in time and the nation reeled following news of the execution style killing of five police officers and an off-duty soldier in the Ngcobo police station in the Eastern Cape.
 
Gambia took a step closer to outlawing the death penalty after new president Adama Barrow declared a moratorium on the use of it as the first step towards abolition, Sudan released dozens of opposition activists and the government of Togo and the opposition began talks to resolve the months-long political crisis triggered by proposed Constitutional changes. Elsewhere in Africa Cholera cases have more than doubled in Malawi, 17 people died in Mozambique after a rubbish dump collapsed on nearby houses, there were fears of a repeat of the 'Chibok girls' incident as Boko Haram kidnapped 111 girls from a state-run boarding school in Yobe state. We also learnt that babies born in the world's poorest countries, most of them in Africa, still face 'alarming' risks of death that can be 50 times higher than those in rich countries.
 
China this week launched an ambitious plan to pull 400 000 people out of dire poverty this year, New Zealand was pounded by Hurricane Gita, with seven provinces declaring a state of emergency, the United Nations, and later in the week German Chancellor Angela Merkel, called for an end to hostilities in Syria's rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta that has seen at least 400 people die this week alone, and the United States' Southern Plains and Midwest braced for more flooding that could last past Sunday. More pressure was put on American lawmakers to change gun laws following the latest deadly school shooting, and a British led expedition set off to study a rare Antarctic ecosystem that had lain hidden under an ice shelf for up to 120 000 years.
 
Finally, in some really good news the tropical island nation of The Seychelles is to create two new marine parks in return for a large amount of its national debt being written off.

Week in Review - 17 February 2018

As the saying goes, it happens slowly and then all at once and this week definitely seemed to be one of those weeks. It was the week Jacob Zuma finally buckled and resigned as president of South Africa, being swiftly replaced by his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, it was also the week that Africa lost one of its bravest and long-fought politicians as Zimbabwe's Morgan Tsvangirai died of cancer in a hospital in South Africa. It was also the week the United States witnessed yet another deadly school shooting as 19 year old Nikolas Cruz killed seventeen people when he opened fire with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 
 
Locally there was praise for Namibia's road infrastructure as the Roads Authority revealed that according to the World Economic Forum our country has the best roads in Africa, the Bank of Namibia left the Repo rate unchanged at 6.75%, local investment firm Eos Capital acquired the majority of the ordinary share capital of water firms Heat Exchange Products and Namibia Aqua Mechanica, the country's inflation rate was far lower in January 2018 compared to the same period last year, while Minister of Public Enterprises Leon Jooste announced that parastatal boards will from now on only be paid for 4 meetings per year. Minister of Health Bernard Haufiku also appeared intent on setting the cat amongst the pigeons as he stated that there is an urgent need for public dialogue on the legalisation of abortion.
 
Despite Zuma taking up most of the column inches this week there was still other news from South Africa including that a suspected poacher had been eaten by lions close to the Kruger National Park, another mine worker died in one of Sibanye-Stillwater's mines, South African 5000m athletic star Thabang Mosiako was hospitalized following an alleged racist attack on him and his friends in Potchefstroom, and in a blow for freedom of speech award winning local film Inxeba The Wound was given an X18 rating by the Film and Publication Board's Appeal Tribunal. South Africa's unemployment rate also declined slightly, while Cape Town's Day Zero was once again pushed back – this time to June 4th.
 
Ex-Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was awarded the Mo Ibrahim prize for African Leadership while in Ethiopia the Prime Minister resigned amid a political crisis and lingering unrest in the country. Elsewhere in Africa 5 civilians lost their lives and another 18 were injured when their passenger vehicle hit a landmine in Mali and in Libya a truck carrying over 300 migrants crashed resulting in the death of at least 23 people. Equatorial Guinea's public prosecutor is seeking the death penalty in the trial of 147 opposition activists, Zanzibar is once again trying to break from Tanzania while the president of the mainland country was quoted this week as encouraging polygamy as a way to reduce prostitution. Rwanda's media watchdog also ordered the closure of a Christian radio station after it broadcast a sermon calling women dangerous, evil, and against the plans of God.
 
Elsewhere in the world Russians were mourning following the crash of a Russian aircraft carrying 71 people and the death of everyone on board, international aid agencies continued to have the spotlight shone on them following revelations that Oxfam staff had paid for prostitutes, some of them under age, while on deployment in Haiti, and in France the question of instituting an age of consent was again thrust to the fore due to a court case involving a 29 year old man who had sex with an 11 year old girl. 

Week in Review - 10 February 2018

The year of reckoning began on Thursday, at least for the Ministers who lost their positions as President Hage Geingob reshuffled his cabinet. Geingob also seemed to lay down the law saying that heads of certain Ministries that have been accused of corruption need to respond within a certain time, that the recently announced travel ban will extend beyond the end of February, and that the Minister of Defence needed to explain to him how the army could buy a N$ 45 million farm while at the same time sending thousands of soldiers on leave because they didn't have the money to feed and house them. The reckoning sentiment seemed to be contagious as later in the day the head of Nampol accused regional commanders of being too relaxed and insisted that they inspect baracks and police houses to ensure they were in the correct state and that no vandalism had been taking place. In other Namibian news an isolated case of Congo fever was detected in Windhoek but contrary to a Whatsapp that was circulated there is no immediate risk of other people contracting it, especially not through the water! Many gathered at the Keetmanshoop Magistrate's court calling for the death penalty to be re-instated following the murder of a farmer couple over the weekend, it is not likely to be re-instated though as the Supreme Court separately this week ruled that prison sentences of an excessive number of years are against the constitution and should therefore be over-ruled. Meanwhile FNB warned of the so-called 'imposter scam' once again happening in the country and the Bank of Namibia caused quite a stir by reminding Namibians that the posting of the National Currency on social media is in fact against the law.
 
In South Africa it was another week or will-he-won't-he as Zuma continued to refuse to go and his ANC party seemed incapable of making him. Two miners lost their lives after a ground fall at a Sibanye-Stillwater mine in Gauteng, The government said that it was going to take over the handling of the drought in the Western Cape, some of the families who lost loved ones due to the Life Esidimeni tragedy reached a settlement with the state, and Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba invited ideas from the public for how government could pay for fee-free higher education.
 
Elsewhere in Africa a prominent investigator of the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade was killed in Nairobi, the second conservationist to die in East Africa in the past year, Boko Haram was in the news again as they attacked a village in an area the government claimed they had been eradicated from and later in the week released a video of their leader Abubakar Shekau insisting they are still in control of the area. Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was once again reported to be on his death bed after having refuted such claims just last month, meanwhile the country's mines minister said they would consider applications from companies mining platinum or diamonds to be exempted from the 51% local black ownership requirement. The Gambia was also this week welcomed back into the Commonwealth.
 
In the rest of the world the sole survivor of the 2015 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam attended the first day of his trial for other charges in a Belgian court but refused to answer any questions, Space X's Falcon Heavy rocket successfully launched, carrying with it Elon Musk's scarlet Tesla Roadster on a path towards Mars, Taiwan was the scene of a deadly earthquake that left buildings leaning precariously, and Pope Francis was left with egg on his face after members of his own sex-abuse commission admitted he had received a victim's letter in 2015 that graphically detailed sexual abuse at the hands of a priest and a cover-up by Chilean church authorities.
 
This week was also a turning point for the Berlin Wall as the symbol of oppression has now been gone for longer than it stood.