Namibia News Online (1) - 1/29/98

Namibia News Online (1) - 1/29/98



January 29 1998


In this complimentary edition!



In spite overt attacks from government officials, Namibian media enjoys a relatively free environment to report on emerging issues. Like 1996, throughout 1997, there was no reported imprisonment of a journalist nor a paper or broadcaster threatened with closure. Namibia has six newspapers and seven private radio and television stations.

However, the press came under a barrage of attacks from officials, most of whom not acquainted with the function and role of the media. When last in December 1996, President Sam Nujoma called the press an "enemy", most officials took advantage and wantonly attacked the media accusing it of being "unpatriotic" and that it was in the "wrong hands and needed to be controlled".

Since, there have been clear attempts to introduce and invoke legislation aimed at restricting the media from reporting on what government terms "sensitive issues" likely to bring about tensions among ethnic and tribal groups. Such sensitive issues have included a call for a commission of inquiry into the atrocities and human rights abuses committed during the struggle against the forced occupation of Namibia by South Africa.

This attempt to use restrictive legislation was also prompted by the publication of information from secret meetings discussing perks for top politicians and military personnel. Although the speaker of parliament positively assured the media, the danger of having journalists subpoenaed under the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliamentary Act, lingers. This subpoena law was secretly passed in 1996 after the initial law restricting the publication of leaked or false information was strongly opposed by the media.

In October 1997, the permanent secretary in the ministry of information announced restrictions on foreign journalists wishing to visit or take up employment in Namibia. In a statement circulated in October to foreign missions in Namibia and its own missions outside Namibia, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting says it is experiencing problems with the unexpected and unannounced arrival of foreign journalists.

It says the ministry should be informed at least one month in advance of their intended visit. They should state date of arrival and appointments required with political office bearers and senior government officials. If journalists want to visit areas under the control of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, an additional application form has to be completed. Depending on the duration, certain fees have to be paid.

When the passport has been endorsed the journalist is required to report to the Ministry of Information for accreditation. But to be accredited journalists require to submit their passports and two passport size photos, a process similar to that required by Home Affairs. No accreditation will take place without proof that temporary work permit has been issued.

Although the Deputy Minister of Information says he does not know what necessitated the permanent secretary to draw up such restrictions, speculation is high that the growing conflicts between Namibia and its neighbour Botswana may be the cause. Also growing internal divisions over the proposed hydro-electric power plant and corruption within government may have initiated these restrictions.

Another prohibitive piece of legislation included the introduction of a Film Production Bill aimed at restricting foreign film producers. This legislation is still under discussion between the government and the media.

The weakening of opposition political parties in Namibia is another worry. The media now tackles issues that opposition parties would have very well been pushing. This status quo puts the media open to attack by the dominant ruling South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO).The result leads to a shift in the role of the media in a democracy from a watchdog to an opposition "media".

Social and economic issues dominated debate in Namibia in 1997. The high deficit is currently forcing the government to reduce its civil service work force. Plans are under way to reduce a cabinet of 26 to 12 through legislation. In a country with 1.6 million people and a work force of less than 100, 000, the media's sales revenue contribute significantly to a meaningful growth of the press. A reduction in the labour force will impact negatively on the growth of the media as less and less people will have the income to afford them a paper.

Six newspapers and seven private and public radio and television stations scramble for the same diminishing market, making media growth increasingly impossible. All-time low wages and high illiteracy levels also affect growth prospects for the media. The internal political dynamics created mainly by the apartheid system have also taken a toll on the media. Although not openly, there is growing resentment amongst the media largely divided between the black faithfuls and the white extremists. However, divided they stand on threats from the government to the media.

Former fighters' increased demands for compensation actuated a ban in June by President Sam Nujoma on public demonstrations without a permit from the police. This ban was then ruled by the courts as unconstitutional as it deprived the right of people to free expression. When this ruling was made, groups wanting to gather, such as the Ovahimba, resisting the development of a hydro-electric power plant in their area, had already suffered under the ban. Special police disbanded their gatherings because they had not obtained a permit.

Typical of the Namibian government, it has without consultation drawn out a white paper on a new telecommunications law. The ministries of Transport and Telecommunications, Information and Broadcasting together with the Namibian Communications Commission (NCC) secretly met in September to discuss a legislation under which they attempt to guarantee the independence of a telecommunications regulatory body, the NCC. The meeting was held without the media and other main stakeholders. Open deliberations are expected to take place before the legislation goes to parliament this year.

Since independence in 1990, telecommunications has been under the management of the NCC and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). This state of affairs has been constantly criticized as the role of the NBC contradicts the principle of a public broadcaster as it grants broadcast licenses. Not to say that the NBC itself is a competitor in the market.

At least one journalist was killed in 1997. On October 4, Peterkings Nkoma working for the state-run Namibia Press Agency (NAMPA), was run over by a police vehicle, killing him instantly. Nkoma, 24, was killed along the Katima Mulilo-Rundu main road in the northern part of Namibia where he worked as a regional reporter. The officer driving the police vehicle had attempted a cover up but later admitted to killing Nkoma. He admitted after pressure from local residents on the police to conduct fresh investigations. Local residents suspected Nkoma had been murdered. Fresh investigations, however, show that Nkoma was run over by a police vehicle.

Although restrictions to media freedom via legislation and acts of intimidation have been collectively opposed by the media, itself largely divided, the media has to do more. For now, the media is not proactive enough to pre-empt any government ill intentions. This gives the state leeway to maneuver and manipulate media legislation at will.

As a whole, these events don't speak well for a country said to be Africa's model democracy. Article 21 of the Namibian constitution guarantees not only freedom of expression but also media freedom. This calls for the government to be mindful of the demands of its constitution and avoid contradicting itself with what it says it stands for - democracy.



The weekly Windhoek Observer newspaper reports that the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) has imported 979.8 tons of military equipment. This arrived last week at the country's largest seaport, Walvis Bay. Delivering the equipment, the paper says, was the Sea Admiral, flying the flag of Malta. According to the newspaper, the military equipment originates from Russia. The article does not disclose the value of the equipment but says this has since been delivered to one of the country's huge military bases in Grootfontein, north of the capital Windhoek.

The paper speculates that this latest military import by the NDF could be the result of growing tension between Namibia and its neighbour Botswana. For approximately two years now, the two countries have been locked in a dispute over islands marking the boundary of the Okavango River. Local papers have reported Botswana Defence Force presence on the disputed Kasikili and Situngu Islands.

Talks between Namibia and Botswana on the possible withdrawal of Botswana troops from the disputed Situngu island and the plight of Namibians farming on the island, were scheduled to take place at Katima Mulilo on January 22. The meeting was aimed at initiating a Botswana-Namibia Joint Commission on Defence and Security. To date, discussions of the meeting remain undisclosed.


A video to promote Walvis Bay as a booming tourist destination was criticized in Germany recently with audiences asking whether any black people existed in the town. Walvis Bay is Namibia's largest seaport on the Atlantic coast, 400km from the capital Windhoek.

Town Secretary for the Walvis Bay Municipality Jan Kruger is reported to have said that the reaction of most people who saw the video was lukewarm, and "criticized by almost all audiences as lacking substance to attract European visitors". The video was screened during a week-long workshop in the German cities of Berlin and Bonn to discuss the promotion of small and medium-scale businesses. Kruger reportedly said the industrial video was well received, but had obviously misjudged the European tourists' market.

The video, a recording of good infrastructure, well-organized facilities and leisure activities, shows white people playing golf, white people on the hydroslide at Dolphyn Strand, white people fishing from the shore and white people wind surfing on the Lagoon. "It was an eye-opener to see it from their point of view," Kruger reportedly confessed. "They said there were plenty of good golf courses and other recreational facilities in Europe and that when Germans come to Africa they hope for something completely different. They want to 'experience Africa'," Kruger is quoted as saying.

The Namibian Dollar 60, 000 (about U$15,000) video was first screened in 1996 and updated last year. It was a joint effort with cross-cultural representatives of Walvis Bay diverse community, consisting of 40, 000 black and 8, 000 white Namibians.


Seven international experts have criticized a feasibility study on the disputed Epupa hydro-electric power project as containing incorrect conclusions, false assumptions and missing data. The experts have argued the study cannot be used as a basis for a well-informed decision on the project by the governments of Namibia and Angola. They claim that both the electricity demand and future power costs are overestimated in the study, raising serious questions about the project's feasibility.

Experts further find the study lacks elaborate consultation, careful scoping of potential negative effects on surrounding inhabitants' lives, and does not suggest a social mitigation programme. The report, they observe, fails to justify the project on economic, social, environmental or power supply grounds. They have, hence, ruled out any public hearings on the report saying large scale dams are no longer simply engineering matters.

The human and environmental impacts are fundamental and must be given full weight, reviewer Sidney Harring, a Professor of Law at City University in New York, reportedly commented. The study had apparently not included the human and environmental consequences should the project proceed. The experts' review was coordinated by international non-governmental organizations, including the International Rivers Network, concerned about the environmental and social impacts of large dams.

Once constructed, the dam is expected to produce between 200 to 360 megawatts of hydro-electric power and its reservoir could inundate as much as 350 square kilometres of land,forcing a displacement of up to 1, 000 inhabitants and affecting several thousand more. Reviewers say the study leaves out the social impact on the surrounding areas.

Although the feasibility study described the project as the "least-cost" option for Namibia's growing energy needs, reviewers say it is economically not viable, according to Steven Rivkin, a professor of economics at Amherst College in the US.

The experts also maintain the consultants had down-played the impact of the reservoir's high rate of water evaporation. They say evaporation losses from the Epupa reservoir would amount to many times Namibia's total urban consumption while the feasibility consultants had claimed the external costs of evaporative losses would be nil due to a lack of alternative uses for Epupa water.

An official in the Ministry of Mines and Energy says the review by the experts will be discussed and responded to at the February 7, meeting in Windhoek. He would not comment further.

Namibia, with most of its land in a desert, faces serious water and power shortages making her rely heavily on neighbouring South Africa. An attempt to divert water from the Okavango River last year sparked a dispute with neighbouring Botswana. The plan has since been suspended.

Namibia, however, is developing other sources of energy such as the Kudu gas fields. Whether Kudu Gas answers Namibia's huge energy needs is a question only time can answer. However, the serious reservations of the experts of the Epupa feasibility study are perhaps a further blow to the Namibian government which has already fought verbal battles with the Ovihimba's, inhabitants of the Epupa. Ovahimba's are strongly opposed to the development of the hydro-power plant at Epupa.


A technical committee is to be appointed to demarcate the boundary between Namibia and Botswana at the disputed island of Situngu. The announcement was made on January 24, after a high-level meeting held at Katima Mulilo, north of Namibia. Top government, military and security officials from both Botswana and Namibia attended the 12-hour meeting where they collectively agreed to appoint a joint technical delimitation committee within a fortnight.

The Namibian delegation, headed by Defence Minister Erikki Nghimtina, spearheaded the proposal for establishing the joint delimitation and technical committee. Once appointed, the committee is expected to focus especially on the border between the two countries. Officials say the two parties also felt the island's inhabitants should be allowed access to their crops by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) troops deployed on Situngu Island.

Until the January 24 high level meeting, the BDF troops had been demanding passports from peasant farmers on the Island. After the talks, however, the BDF assured their Namibian counterparts that the harassment would end. Namibian officials said they would wish to see the BDF troops leave, but the Botswana delegation - led by the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Administration Ponatshego Kedikilwe - strongly opposed total withdrawal.

Tension mounted as a large number of villagers were not allowed into the talks on grounds that they were not members of the Botswana/Namibia Joint Commission on Defence and Security. The Governor of the Kaprivi Region expressed displeasure at the idea to re-re-demarcate the boundary saying the Joint Commission on Defence and Security would rather have re-affirmed the boundary than make fresh demarcations. He also said he was not happy that his community had been denied a say. The local community had demanded to have their say at the talks as they said they have farmed on the disputed island for decades. Actual details of the agreement remain undisclosed.


Change of sexual attitude has led to more and more young Namibians resorting to the use of condoms, claims the Social Impact Assessment and Policy Analysis Corporation (Siapac). Male attitudes towards challenging AIDS have improved, as have attitudes towards those with HIV-AIDS, say Siapac's Managing Director David Cownie. He was speaking in Windhoek at the 5th Annual General meeting of the Namibia Network of AIDS Service Organizations (Nanaso). Although there were improvements, he said, he expressed fear that women's attitudes had not improved.

Last year Siapac carried out a study into young Namibians' sexual attitudes in order to compare the results with a survey in 1995. Some 1, 560 people were interviewed countrywide out of the country's 1.6 million population. Cownie said female attitudes lagged behind, and did not show much change from 1995, except for home-based care where attitudes showed a marked improvement. Fewer than half of the females approached responded negatively to the use of condoms and female attitudes were positive when questioned about someone they knew infected with HIV.

Worrying, though, says Cownie, is the fact that there was a trend towards people only becoming sexually active when they were older, implying that those who were already having sex tended to have more partners. "Almost half of the males with a regular partner also had a casual partner," Cownie reportedly said.

There was, however, an improvement in the numbers of those doing something to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases or becoming pre-maturely pregnant. Siapac has put on record 80% for regular casual partners using condoms over the past month, but condom use during the last sexual event declined for both regular and casual partners, and few respondents knew any condom brand names.

It was, however, a mixed situation for Cownie. He says in many respects women's sexual knowledge had declined with the exception of awareness to condoms, where knowledge was extremely high for both sexes. Siapac, therefore, recommends that sex education should be combined with increased condom use and partial and situational abstinence for those who were already sexually active.

"The 'stick to one partner' message may be causing some confusion, as respondents appear to be moving towards a situation of short-term regular partners who are quickly replaced by another short-term regular partner. It is recommended that, should such a message continue to be used, it be reconsidered in light of the shortening of such relationships," concludes Siapac.


Namibia added one more airline to its air services last year, at least on paper. The newly-established Kalahari Express Airlines scheduled to take off last October, is still grounded, apparently owing to financial difficulties. The airline's board of directors was scheduled to meet last week to consider their options amid denials by Managing Director Andre Compion that Kalahari Express was in dire financial need. "We've got all the money that we need for our project, although we are still looking for the best possible deal for our company," Compion said without elaboration.

Although Kalahari Express had managed to source funding locally, it would consider external financiers if offered a better deal, he said, adding that all the airline's personnel have been trained and are receiving salaries. However, the airline which has a share capital of close to N$3 million (about U$900, 000), was apparently snubbed by Namibian financial institutions. "We are investigating different financing methods. The problem with Namibia is that the financial institutions are not familiar with this kind (commercial airline) business," an insider told a local paper here.

Kalahari Express, which has made the first down-payment on its two 56-seater Fokker F28-Mark 3000 aircraft it is buying from Australia, is reported to be still on the hunt for more money to pay off the balance. The airline is now considering approaching South African and other foreign financiers. However, a foreign loan is most unlikely. The new airline would have to pay back in United States dollars, which would be dicey considering the poor performance of the South African Rand against the US dollar. The Namibian dollar is at par with the Rand and trade at an average 4.5 to every US dollar purchased.

Local loaners have served the Kalahari Express with a further blow. Most Namibian banks, as well as the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF), who had earlier indicated they would boost the financially troubled airline opted to finance its rival, Air Namibia.

The Kalahari Express planes are scheduled to service the daily Windhoek to Johannesburg and Windhoek to Cape Town routes.


The recent call by union leaders to seize land for the landless in Namibia has scared many white land owners. After failing to secure constitutional protection, land owners have just one weapon left in their hands: inflated prices.

The Namibian government has made it clear it is not planning to introduce any amendment to the Constitution for the repossession or acquisition of land. Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, John Mbangon says, however, it was difficult for the Ministry to acquire as much land as it would have like due to prices being charged by some farmers. Also standing in the way are lengthy negotiations which take place before farms can be bought, says Mbango.

Deputy Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Marten Kapewasha, suggested at the end of last year that the National Council table an amendment to the Constitution to allow for easier repossession of land, but the proposal has now been thrown out. Article 16(2) of the constitution states that the State may only expropriate property if it pays just compensation. Article 16 of the Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights, which cannot be amended. The opposition DTA argues it will never support the amendment of the constitution to allow for easier repossession of land saying government must instead stop spending money on unnecessary luxuries like extra ministers, and use the money to buy land.

According to the DTA, there were enough farms for sale on which landless people could be settled if the Government was only prepared to buy them. The opposition argues that the freedom struggle was all about land, adding that the official opposition had "time and again" put pressure on the Government to solve the land question by buying more farms. The DTA maintains a constitutional amendment would lead to a situation like the current one in Zimbabwe, which amended its constitution several years ago, with the result that the Government was now only paying white farmers for improvements made to the land.

In December the Zimbabwean government announced it would be repossessing more than 1, 600 commercial farms for the resettlement of landless black peasants.


Confident Namibia's Brave Warriors national team trounced the 1996 Africa Cup champions, South Africa, 3 - 2 here on Saturday, 24 January. South Africa's Bafana Bafana and the Brave Warriors were playing in a Cosafa Castle Cup tournament which kicked off early this year. The tournament was first introduced last year. A record 30, 000 soccer fans jam-packed the Independence Stadium, with President Sam Nujoma present. Nujoma had on arrival at the Stadium predicted a 2 - 0 win over Bafana Bafana, and so did other soccer fans.

It was the African champions, however, who announced their intentions in the first minute when striker Ben Mcathy's power-packed shot hit the goal post. Mcathy plays for Ajax in Holland. Both teams were desperate for a goal in most of the first half, but it was in the 38th minute the African champions netted their first through Thado Mooky. Mooky capitalized on the Brave Warriors' poor defending in the D-zone.

Bafana's late goal was far from daunting to Brave Warriors who replied just few seconds to half-time, setting the team's morale level. Overlapping defender Stanley Goabgoseb skillfully squeezed the ball through an incredible angle from the right to hit the upper left. Half-time scores: South Africa 1, Namibia 1.

As in the first half, Mcathy again nearly shook the Brave Warriors net in the first minute, but hit the up-right bar, to the relief of Goalkeeper Ronny Kanalelo. The African champions and the 1998 World Cup qualifiers had fans holding their breath when in the 62nd minute ace Philmon Masinga hit home a ten-metre drive making it 2 - 1 to Bafana Bafana. Under Coach Rusten Mogane, the Brave Warriors had nothing to worry as he made timely changes to include the favourite Johannes Hindjou.

It was full time with fans already conceding a loss that the Brave Warriors were awarded a free kick from 20 metres. Bimbo Tjihero caught Bafana Goalkeeper Brian Baloye unprepared as the ball shaved passed the left goal post into the net, making it 2 - 2. The goal forced the two teams into a sudden death session but it was Brave Warriors who through striker Berlin Auchumeb broke the deadlock in the 11th minute, ending Bafana's untested record since the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations. Then it was the fans din, crowds along the streets of Katutura township greeting hooting motorists with hand claps and loud shouts of victory.

New Bafana Bafana coach, Jomo Sono, showed clear uneasiness at the loss against Namibia. This was the first ever encounter since Sono took over the shaky Bafana squad few weeks ago. Over-confident Sono banked much on the international competitions and friendlies Bafana played against the world's soccer giants.

During the encounter against Namibia regulars Doctor Khumalo, Joe Moshoe, and Bartlet were missing from the Bafana squad, while captain Lukas Radebe nurses a back injury. Winger Mkhelele could not make it after his Turkish club asked for his exclusion. This left international defender Mark Fish, who plays for an Italian club, to contribute minimally. No doubt Coach Sono goes home to face the already incensed soccer fans after the forced retirement of their hero, Clive Barker.

This win for the Brave Warriors is a clear message to African soccer teams that Namibia is placing a significant foot-mark on the continent. In last year's tournament, Namibia emerged second after drawing 1-1 against Zambia's Chipolopolo. Zambia needed a draw while Namibia needed a win. South Africa did not join the tournament.

Namibia and South Africa are teamed up in the same group in this year's Africa Cup of Nations to take place in Burkina Faso. However, South Africa has been going through bad times since coach Clive Barker was forced to resign after a poor performance in the Confederation Cup held in Saudi Arabia last December.

Namibia prides itself on foreign-based Ricardo Mannetti who plays for rookies Santos of Cape Town, Scottish-based star Eliphas Shivute, Frans Ananias, contracted to play for a German lower division side, and goalkeeper Ronny Kanalelo who plays for the South Africa's Sundowns.

All stories: Own sources/The Namibian/The Windhoek Observer


From: (Africa_news Network) Date: Thu, 29 Jan 1998 11:38:36 +0100 Subject: NAMIBIA NEWS ONLINE - COMPLIMENTARY FIRST EDITION! Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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