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Bank Launches Music Bash

King Tee Dee performing at the launch of SB.09.MF. Photo: Rinelda Mouton

THE Standard Bank 09 Music Festival (SB.09.MF), a collaboration between Standard Bank Namibia and Mshasho, was launched in Windhoek on Monday.

I was angry – Betty Davids

Betty Davids

BEATA Siteketa, also known as the socialite Betty Davids, is bent on finding justice for herself over alleged defamatory remarks made by Independent Patriots for Change spokesperson Imms Nashinge, and has registered a charge of crimen injuria with the Namibian Police.

House of Poulton Meets Mixology

FASHION designer and lifestyle enthusiast Melisa Poulton will combine her love of fashion, entertainment and food with the House of Poulton Gin Cocktail Picnic Party set to debut later this month.


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Covid-19 and tax relief measures introduced globally

Image used for illustrative purposes.

THE global response to Covid-19 has been serious, from enforcing personal protection, restricting movement and large gatherings, and even to introducing tax relief on the import and supply of vaccines, test kits and personal protective gear.


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      Air Namibia: It's Now or Never

      by Editorial Team

      MANY, if not most, Namibians will find the news of Air Namibia being shut down difficult to stomach.

      But a time will come when president Hage Geingob and his Cabinet will be thanked for finally working up the courage to take a difficult decision and put the country out of one of its worst miseries.

      For now, emotions are running high. The main focus is on the more than 600 people set to lose their jobs and the wounded pride of Namibia's flag supposedly taking a significant fall.

      The reality, however, is that Air Namibia ended up being nothing more than a costly vanity project. For more than 20 years, the 'pride' of having a national airline and similar white elephants has gobbled up billions in taxpayer funds at the expense of pressing socio-economic needs that are undoubted priorities.

      Lest we forget, there are hundreds of thousands of Namibians who do not have running water or electricity or decent housing, or healthcare, or transport, among others.

      Already in the mid to late 1990s, reports emerged of Air Namibia, then a subsidiary of TransNamib, making huge losses because of poor planning, bad strategic decisions and overall mismanagement by its top executives and successive boards of directors.

      Between 1999 and 2004, Air Namibia was bailed out to the tune of N$1,4 billion, the equivalent of N$3 billion today.

      Last week, finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi announced taxpayers have spent N$8,4 billion over the past 10 years to rescue the airline from unmitigated bankruptcy.

      It is very likely the government bailout figures given so far exclude bank guarantees and other loan schemes Air Namibia dabbled in, and which taxpayers will still be required to pay.

      In essence, Air Namibia has operated as an insolvent business for more than two thirds of its existence since Namibia's independence.

      Apart from flying the flag sky-high and keeping people employed, Air Namibia, the government and the tourism industry have often peddled the false argument that the airline's 'net contribution' to the economy was positive compared to the bailout.

      Statistics were played with to suggest that if Air Namibia did not fly to Europe and South Africa tourists would have stayed away.

      This argument does not explain why neighbouring Botswana, which barely has a local airline fleet, consistently outperforms Namibia with more visitors and higher-spending ones at that.

      Sadly, comparisons are rarely made when taking money from taxpayer funds to sustain a perennially loss-making business that operates in an environment where many airlines around the world make a profit most of the time.

      Even more worrying is that the people who have caused the country so much misery and probably profited from mismanaging Air Namibia (managers and directors) have not been hauled over the carpet for failing in their duties and responsibilities.

      For about 20 years to date, Air Namibia has failed to submit clean audited financials. If the managers and directors of a private business did that they would have been prosecuted, and the company would be facing closure due to unpaid taxes.

      In essence, the authorities have not only tolerated the abuse of taxpayer bailouts, but have been complicit in promoting incompetence.

      We urge the government to act swiftly and decisively, and without hidden agendas, in the liquidation of Air Namibia.

      It is good to learn that employees will be paid for 12 months, which is extraordinarily generous, providing retrenched workers with a sufficient cushion to reorganise their lives.

      Most importantly, the government must avoid the Roads Contractor Company scenario where the winding-down process has not taken place and over 300 workers have remained on the payroll for more than three years without doing any work.

      Well done to Geingob and his Cabinet for finally gathering the courage to admit their mistakes and clean up their mess once and for all.

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