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Iono - Behind the Bulletins

Week in Review - 11 November 2017

Windhoek residents have been asked to use as little water as possible this weekend due to NamWater interrupting the water supply to the city from Von Bach dam, while water is unlikely to run out there could be reduced pressure and even a slight colour change as the municipality will be operating the bore-hole system during this time. 
 
In other local news the DTA last weekend changed their name to the Popular Democratic Movement, the Minister of Environment and Tourism revealed that fewer rhino and elephants have been poached this year, the US government committed to a further N$435 million towards the PEPFAR programme to combat HIV/AIDS in the country, and opposition MPs walked out of parliament on Tuesday after refusing to discuss the Urban and Regional Planning Bill of 2017, saying all talks related to land should be avoided until after the planned land conference.
 
In South Africa deputy president Cyril Rampahosa broke with ANC tradition and announced his preferred leadership team should he be elected as the party's next leader, there were echoes of the Namibian situation as many expressed their fears following the granting of prospecting rights for Phosphate mining over huge areas of South Africa's continental shelf, President Jacob Zuma agreed to Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba's request for the establishment of the judicial inquiry into tax administration and governance at the SA Revenue Services, an eight year old boy died after the ambulance he was being transported to hospital in was hijacked outside Cape Town, and everyone was still talking about Jacques Pauw's book 'The President's Keepers'.
 
In African news the Red Cross has admitted that its staff allegedly colluded in corruption amounting to 6 million dollars during the Ebola epidemic but that they are determined to bring the culprits to book and redeem the money, The Democratic Republic of Congo has finally announced a date for their much delayed elections, saying they will take place in December 2018, Liberia's Supreme Court ruled that the run-off election may not take place until complaint over alleged irregularities is heard while in Egypt the president ruled out any talk of the constitution being amended to allow him a third term, though as he has yet to serve his allowed second term he may still change his mind, there was fresh intrigue in Zimbabwe as President Robert Mugabe fired long-time ally Emerson Mnangagwa who had for a long time been seen as his likely successor, meanwhile Morocco's King Mohammed VI dashed all hopes that after finally having been readmitted to the African Union the topic of Western Sahara would be resolved, saying that the territory could at best hope for autonomy but that his country would never agree to its independence.
 
On Monday morning we woke to the news that there had been yet another gun-related killing spree in the United States as this time a gunman wearing a bullet-proof vest opened fire with an assault rifle on the congregation of a small town Texas church, killing 26 people and wounding at least 20 more. Things got worse in Yemen too as the Saudi-led coalition closed off all land, sea and air ports following a rebel-fired ballistic missile targeting Riyadh, shortly thereafter the UN urged them to end the blockade and allow life-saving humanitarian supplies to cross the border. Elsewhere in the world two young children were killed and three others injured in Australia after a car ploughed into their classroom, Germany's top court ordered parliament to recognise a 'third gender', schools were shut in Delhi as pollution hit nearly 30 times the World Health Organisation's safe level, and as Syria announced it was joining the Paris Agreement the United States was left as the only country in the world opting to stay outside the landmark treaty that hopes to hold global warming to a level 'well below' two degrees Celsius.

Week in Review - 04 November 2017

This week Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein presented his mid-term budget review and it turns out that while things aren't quite as bad as we thought they were they are still not good. The Minister explained that the economy is expected to improve and that government plans to make more money, which are both good things – we just have to see if they actually happen. He also though said that the budget would increase by just over N$ 4 billion, some of which local economists pointed out Namibia would have to borrow which could push the country closer to a downgrade by ratings agencies. Consumers could at least breath a sigh of relief as he stated that there is no plan to increase taxes but rather to improve collection and look at a presumptive tax on the informal sector.
 
In other local news the price of petrol and diesel increased, local boxer Wilbeforce Shihepo is to be tried for the death of two people following a motor vehicle accident he is alleged to have caused before fleeing the scene, sprint legend Frankie Fredericks appeared before a judge in Paris as part of a probe into graft allegation over the awarding of the 2016 Olympics to Rio, 2569 teaching positions were advertised, and the City of Windhoek approved the sale of land in the Havana settlement for the Khomas District Hospital as well two schools while also approving the development of a solar PV plant on vacant land south of Cimbembasia.
 
In South Africa a book published by veteran journalist Jacques Pauw added numerous fresh allegations of corruption and the peddling of influence to president Jacob Zuma's already long list of alleged transgressions though the so-called 'Teflon President' seemed non-plussed simply denying the allegations, but strangely, if they aren't true, not taking it further and suing Pauw and his publishers. Danny Jordaan broke his almost two weeks silence surrounding allegations that he raped former ANC member and singer Jennifer Ferguson by denying the allegations and explaining that he would not be discussing them outside a court of law, on Monday thousands of mostly white demonstrators marched to protest farm murders in what was dubbed #BlackMonday, and veteran politician Mangosuthu Buthelezi announced that he was retiring as leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party after having led it since its inception in 1975.
 
Somali once again bore the brunt of terrorist attacks with a raid on a popular hotel and the detonation of both a car and truck bomb on Sunday leaving more than 27 dead, while in Cameroon five children were killed and two other wounded after a “young girl” joined a game they were playing before detonating an explosive charge in an attack blamed on the local wing of Boko Haram. 
 
In New York a man in a rented pickup truck killed at least 8 people and injured another 11 when he drove down a busy bike path deliberately ramming into people. The driver was identified as originally from Uzbekistan, having immigrated to the US legally in 2010. Japan was left reeling following the discovery of 9 bodies, including two with their heads severed and dumped in a cool box, in a Tokyo flat. In India an explosion at a coal-fired power plant killed 18 people and injured up to 100, while reports surfaced that up to 200 people may have died following a tunnel collapse at North Korea's nuclear test site back in September. In other news the Catalan crisis continues and more and more men are being held accountable for sexual misconduct including at least 36 Tory MPs named in a so-called 'dirty dossier' released in the United Kingdom.
 
Finally, in some good news Tanzania's Ngorongoro Conservation Area is to be declared a Unesco Global Geopark, joining Morocco's M'Goun park as only the second Unesco Geopark in Africa.
 

Week in Review - 28 October 2017

No-one could have missed the fuss caused by that CNN article alleging that Namibia had maintained ties with North Korea in defiance of United Nations sanctions and how this could potentially lead to the UN imposing sanctions on us in response. There were those who believed the article, those who didn't – labelling it fake news and part of an ongoing war between the broadcaster and the current US president, and even those who seemed to get slightly confused thinking that it was the United States trying to tell us what to do and who to be friends with. Government was perhaps slightly slow in responding but did issue a statement denying all allegations and reassuring Namibians that we had said goodbye to the North Koreans in the country a long time ago and that we were in full compliance with the UN sanctions regime on North Korea … but then they told us that last year as well.
 
Sticking with conspiracy theory type news, the long withheld JFK files were released this week, or at least most of them were – the FBI and CIA managed to ensure that roughly 300 documents have been kept secret for a further 6 months, when their release will once again be reviewed, due to reasons of 'national security', which will of course do nothing to calm the conspiracy theorists out there down.
 
Getting back to local news it was reported that Unam students with outstanding fees will be allowed to write their examinations on condition that 50% of their tuition fees are settled, Namwater agreed to loan government N$ 600 million towards settling part of the outstanding debt on the Neckertal Dam project, we found out that Namibians are the heaviest alcohol drinkers per capita on the continent, and in news that, in light of that last fact, may have caused some to raise a toast and others to perhaps drown their sorrows the Bank of Namibia decided to leave the Repo rate unchanged at 6.75%.
 
South Africa waited in hope this week for some good news in Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba's mini-budget speech but were left disappointed as he seemed to leave all major decisions on turning the economy around to next year's budget in February while also revealing that the revenue shortfall had grown to R50.8 billion from an anticipated R30 billion. There was some good news from the country though as it is reported that a cheap mass-produced plastic heart value that has the potential to save millions of people is to undergo a full clinical trial, and justice was served in the case of two men who forced another into a coffin and threatened to douse him in petrol and set him alight when they were sentenced to 11 and 14 years in prison respectively.
 
Kenyans took to the polls this week, or at least some of them did as many polling stations reported record low turnout in a re-run of an earlier election annulled by the Supreme Court, counting was delayed due to violence in which at least 4 people lost their lives but incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta was expected to win by a landslide after rival Raila Odinga and his National Super Alliance boycotted the poll. Elsewhere in Africa the World Health Organisation warned up to 9 countries to be on high alert for the so-called black death plague, the third place finisher in Liberia's presidential elections submitted a complaint and called for the results to be annulled, and calling and sending text messages could become cheaper as regional integration blocs in sub-Saharan Africa have agreed to abolish roaming charges.
 
Internationally China has put the cat amongst the pigeons and has surely upset the United States by announcing that they will launch a yuan-denominated oil contract as early as this year, Australia got one step closer to the passing of the country's first assisted dying law, Japan's Prime Minister secured a big victory in Sunday's election and is talking tough on North Korea, and in possibly the worst news all week worldwide wine production has fallen 8.2 percent to a 50 year low so it may be wise to stock up while you can.