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News Blog

A collection of longer form stories, submitted, sourced, or written by our team, that would not make sense to cover in a traditional broadcast news format, but which we wanted to share with you anyway.

(please note that views and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of Radiowave).

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Iono - Behind the Bulletins

Part-time painter puts Christuskirche on canvas

We found this really nice story by Anna Salkeus and Tina Haulyondjamba that we felt was worth sharing with you:

Driving past the Christ Church and around the traffic circle it is situated on is not unusual, but driving past a man with a huge canvas on the pavement of the church is a surprise.
Leonard Abrahams decided to dedicate his 2016 festive season to putting one of Windhoek’s tourist attractions and landmarks on canvas, but his methodology is what entices the curiosity.
Most artists prefer to paint in the privacy of their homes or studios where no audience can disturb or judge their creativity until the product is completed.

“I prefer to work from the sites because some things are better seen with the eyes in real life,” says Abrahams.

The ambitious 57-year-old artist is working on an exhibition he intends to showcase early this year. Dabbing his brush into the pallet of browns, reds and greys, Abrahams explains that because of his preference to work on site, the weather determines how long it takes for him to complete an oil painting. “I have been working on this painting for a week now and might be working on it for another week before it is completed, depending on the weather.” 

He is a perfectionist and at times may take long to complete paintings, he says while looking at the detailed lines and strokes on the half-finished artwork.

He uses oil pant as well as pen and pencil with no measuring instrument; using only his eyes to measure objects he plans to paint. “I mostly do wildlife, political and social satire, mixed architecture (historic and commercial) and portraits.”

Asked about the painting of the 107-year-old Christuskirche situated in the middle of Robert Mugabe Avenue, a witty Abrahams says the blue sky above all and dry lawn below the Independence Memorial Museum in the background might not be included in the final product.

He says his talent was identified during high school when he started drawing.

But being able to draw and paint is not easily identified as a bread-winning career. Abrahams says he is not able to paint all the time because of family commitments as a husband and father. A permanent job as a truck driver at the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) is what pays the bills and sustains his hobby that has also produced a painting of the corporation’s building, but not exactly as it appears.

“The painting of the Meatco building was painted in a futuristic kind of way. Painting is not just about what you actually see but what one can imagine as well.” Abrahams says he painted the Meatco building because the company has helped him in many ways over his 11 years of employment there.

He also plans to work on a painting of the Namibia Breweries building.

Schlettwein had no other option but to yield the axe says Kavari

Namibian analyst Suta Kavari may have moved to Beirut, Lebanon but he clearly still has his eyes firmly focused on Namibia as evidenced by this opinion piece which he emailed to us regarding Minister of Finance Calle Schelttwein's mid-year budget review: 

I will admit when the Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, quoted William Feather’s “A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it”, I was ready to jeer and take to twitter to rue yet another a missed opportunity to significant reduce expenditure.

But Calle being Calle Schlettwein, that was just the precursor of what was to come.

Schlettwein then proceeded to make a compelling case in mapping Namibia's deteriorating fiscal space, and the accompanying cuts to expenditure and the tax increases would have to be endured.

When Schlettwein presented the budget in February, I was one amongst a host of many who criticized the Minister’s commitment to fiscal consolidation, noting at the time that it “didn’t go far enough in addressing the realities of our fiscal position.”

The Fitch outlook revision, which showed a significant widening of our budget deficit due to lower-than-expected revenue collection, was the straw that broke the camel’s back and jolted the Fiscus into action.

What we saw from Schlettwein’s Mid-Year Budget Review last week, was government’s strongest indication yet, that they intend on reining in spending at a time of falling revenue.

Namibia finds itself in the most precarious of positions, a position alluded to by the Minister in great detail in his speech. It is also a position exacerbated by downside risks to both the global and regional growth outlook.

Reflecting the enormity of the downsides that our economy faces, the revenue forecast for the current MTEF was slashed by N$9.3 billion, from N$63.9 billion to N$54.6 billion.

The cuts to expenditure went further than anyone had anticipated and they were, plainly put, brutal.

Schlettwein announced intention to “undertake cumulative expenditure reduction of about 6% of budgeted GDP” and to cut “reduce expenditure-to-GDP ratio from 40% of GDP to below 35% of GDP”, phased in over the MTEF.

The indicative expenditure ceiling was also reduced by N$10 billion for the 2017/18 fiscal year, from N$69.9 billion to N$59.9 billion.

That ceiling is expected to reach N$64.4 billion at the end of the MTEF, a significant reduction to the N$74.4 billion that was envisaged in February.

For the current fiscal year, revenue shortfalls amounted to N$6.2 billion and given the very limited scope for debt, Schlettwein was forced into cutting expenditure by N$5.5 billion

Of the N$5.50 billion, N$2.82 billion was sourced from the operational budget. This is significant, because it marks the first time that we’ve seen any cuts to the operational side of the budget.

The wage bill, which accounts for close to 40% of the total expenditure and the hardest part of expenditure to cut, was cut by N$633.39 million. A welcome move.

The development budget also felt the might of the axe, with N$2.7 billion worth of cuts. The cuts, as the Minister noted, would be “concentrated on the construction of office building with a more bias towards administrative sector”.

Surely now talk of constructing vanity projects, like the Parliamentary and the PM’s ivory towers would be put to bed! Surely?

But whether the cuts to expenditure would be enough to starve off a credit rating downgrade, remains to be seen.

The budget review did show that the economy is on the brink and with these cuts it is hard to imagine the economy not slipping into recession. The alternative, however, is too ghastly to even ponder.

However, what we saw last week is a government aware of the realities of the day, and addressing those realities. We saw a Fiscus capable of self-correcting and seriously intend on cutting the excess fat.

For a government that has injected a litany of policy uncertainties that have constrained growth, the mid-year budget review was a welcomed refresher.

Calle Schlettwein’s task was an incredulous one, but absolutely necessary to ensure our long-term macroeconomic sustainability. We all owe him a vote of gratitude.

Aroab a beacon of hope

By Patience Smith

AROAB, 03 OCT (NAMPA) – Aroab, a village of about 5 000 residents, is viewed by many as an example of good governance in the //Kharas Region and beyond.
In 2013, the Aroab Village Council (AVC) received a clean audit report and is said to have one of the best administrative staff in the country.

During a visit there last week, Nampa discovered there are no shacks in this tidy town. The village also boasts a sparkling medium-sized swimming pool that is in use for six months per year.

It further emerged during a sit-down with AVC Chief Executive Officer Elsa Laubscher, that all 500 households are connected to the village’s sewer, water and electrical network.

That means all residents have running water, toilets and electricity at their brick homes. A number of the houses were built under the Build Together Programme and allocated to people who previously resided in shacks. 

Though unemployment is high and the village finds it difficult to collect the necessary revenue for services from residents – as is the case in most of the country – the AVC has managed to implement development projects and remain well within its operational budget. 

Laubscher said it only makes sense to pay creditors and bulk suppliers first. 

“You can only spend what you have. Other village councils say they want to come here for best practices from us, but the truth is that we can all learn from each other,” she said.

Laubscher said the secret to the village’s success is that it has good administration in place. “We are lucky, the administrative officers here at the council know what they are doing and the staff also has good working relations with the councillors.”

Laubscher, once reportedly referred to by former Deputy Minister of Local Government and Housing Jerry Ekandjo as “the country’s most sought-after CEO” has been at the helm of the village administration for the last 10 years.

The council is made up of two Swapo Party councillors, two DTA of Namibia councillors and one Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) councillor.

Recently, the village received the 2015 Best Rural Award in the Centres of Excellence in Local Government (COE) category out of 36 councils from Gender Links Namibia. It was also honoured with the Good Governance Award at the Association of Local Authorities in Namibia (ALAN) Congress in June. 

According to Laubscher, the local authority tries to implement programmes with commitment to achieving gender equality. 

The AVC derives additional income from accommodation facilities it set up, a brick-making project, sheep farming and a vegetable garden to help sustain the village financially.

Although a few residents Nampa spoke to referred to the AVC as “the richest village council with no heart for the community and no job creation” Laubscher said the authority tried by all means to employ locals in council projects.

“In the past we have encountered problems through employing local people but the council believes in the philosophy of creating local jobs wherever possible to help ease poverty in our village.

“And because unemployment is high here, we try by all means to negotiate with the community on payments for services. We’ve taken the route of leniency and always encourage them to make realistic arrangements before resorting to cutting off supplies.”

The village council receives an annual Government subsidy of around N.dollars 800 000 for its operations and N.dollars 1 500 000 for capital projects.

At the moment, the AVC is busy with a National Planning Commission-funded upgrade of an existing road to a 2,5 kilometre tar road and is engaging with a South African-based private company that wishes to establish a large mall at the village.

Aroab is nearly 170 kilometres southeast of Keetmanshoop and 40 kilometres away from the South African border.

The next project at the village will be a N.dollars 7 million extension project of the sewerage ponds, Laubscher said.

One of the future plans of the council is to build a lodge for further income and local job opportunities, and to bring Aroab village closer to being declared a town.

The 61-year-old Laubscher’s contract with the village expires next February, but she hopes to get a renewal. The former accountant of the AVC said an extension would help her and incumbent staff to complete a few more projects, and to leave council affairs in a sound state.