The 28th of September marked the International Day for Universal Access to Information, observed this year under the theme: In times of crisis, access to information saves lives, builds trust, and brings hope! In a statement issued for the occasion, Chairperson of the Action Coalition, Frederico Links, said that Namibians have been promised much in the way of interventions or solutions only for them to not arrive, or underperform or fail to deliver as promised. At the same time, we are also continually promised more governance transparency and responsiveness, but this too remains a challenge to achieve. The coalition called on the Namibian government to, among others pass and implement the Access to Information Bill as a matter of urgency; and formalise the adoption of a culture of openness and accountability towards the Namibian people.
The US Court of Appeals, citing a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, on Thursday 24 September 2020, dismissed an appeal lodged by the Ovaherero and Nama people who are suing Germany for excluding them from current negotiations between the German and Namibian governments concerning the 1904-1908 genocide. Future Media News spoke to Namibian political analyst, Dr Ndumba Kamwanyah to explain about the significance of this dismissal.
Then, in developmental news that also made headlines this week, US Ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, highlighting the fact that the US President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has now been operating in Namibia for 15 years, revealed that the US government will be increasing funding for the programme for the financial year 2021. The money, the ambassador said will be used to, among other things, increase funding for the DREAMS Programme for adolescent girls and young women, allowing them to roll the programme out to more regions of the country.
And, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, Calle Schlettwein, said an estimated N$30 million will be required to contain the African migratory red locust outbreak in the Zambezi region, which has destroyed 500 hectares of grazing land. Schlettwein told Future Media News that they are challenged by a lack of man power and that more capacity will be required to contain the outbreak. This as a total area of 4002 km² has been invaded.
In news from the continent, Statistics South Africa revealed a sharp decline in the official unemployment rate as people stopped actively looking for work during the lockdown, but the unemployment rate according to the expanded definition rose to 42% in the second quarter of the year.
Meanwhile, a new report by the UN agency for trade and development estimates Africa lost $836bn in illegal movement of money out of the continent in the 15 years to 2015, which makes Africa a “net creditor to the world”. The illegal outflow of money is mainly related to the export of high-value goods such as gold, diamonds, and platinum and revenues are lost through corruption, theft and tax evasion.
On the International Front, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, speaking at the United Nations’ first ever summit on the biodiversity crisis on Wednesday, warned that humanity must stop “waging war on nature”, saying one consequence of the imbalance with nature was the emergence of deadly diseases such as HIV-AIDS, Ebola, and COVID-19.
And finally … this hasn’t been a good week for US President Donald Trump, as the New York Times managed to get copies of tax returns that he has repeatedly hidden from public view, which indicates that the President paid virtually no income tax over the last 15 years. FSN’s Simon Marks reports though that Trump claims the returns are part of a “fake news” campaign to discredit him. To make matters worse, the first US presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden was described as chaotic. Amid angry shouting, name-calling, and insults, the two fought over the coronavirus pandemic, white supremacy, and the economy during the 90-minute forum in Cleveland, Ohio. Trump said no other president has done more for the American people than he has, while Biden hit back by saying under Trump, America became weaker, sicker, poorer, more divided, and more violent.