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CONSUMER
Y O U R V O I C E

FEBRUARY 2011

NEWS

Recycled

Escalating

chicken

prices
w w w.consumernewsnamibia.com

food

INTEC
investigated
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ISSN: 2026-710X

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The Team
Publisher
Consumer News

CONSUMER
Editor’s Note

NEWS

Printed by
John Meinert Printing

Design & Layout
Shapwa Hashali E-mail: shapwa@consumernewsnamibia.com

Editor
Victoria Kangombe E-mail: viki@consumernewsnamibia.com Cell: 081 236 0803

Journalists
Louis Maruwasa E-mail: louis@consumernewsnamibia.com Rob Parker rob@consumernewsnamibia.com Denver Isaacs E-mail: denver@consumernewsnamibia.com

Here we are, two months into the year and people still find it appropriate to say complements of the New Year. Really now, is it ok to wish someone Happy birthday six months after it actually happened? Anyway, we are two months into the year and already we’re being bombarded with news of rising food and commodity prices, taxi drivers striking because of an exorbitant rise in traffic fines, and yet another increase in the number of matriculants that failed their final-year exam last year. It seems the economists were right; just when we were being sceptical about their predictions. Oh well, everybody is allowed a moment of cynicism, especially if you’re part of the Consumer News team where you’ll realise that as consumers in Namibia, we do not get the recognition we deserve. For this issue, we investigated a claim by Henties Bay residents about insurance providers refusing to make any further payouts for electrical appliances that have been destroyed by frequent power failures in the small town. We followed-up on a claim by a father and daughter who seemed to have been swindled out of their money and expectations by controversial distance learning college INTEC. For those of you that were taken by the story of recycled chicken being stocked in South Africa’s Pick n Pay stores, we thought it wise to find out whether it is also the case here...you would want to turn the pages to find out what we discovered. You will notice that we have introduced a few changes and sections; we hope you enjoy the changes we have brought about and are looking forward to more. Happy reading folks. Viki

Business Development Manager
Jacques Nieman E-mail: jnieman@consumernewsnamibia.com Cell: 081 203 7180
You deserve more ...
“Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it. William Penn”

Advertising Sales Executive
Tabeth Nyahasha E-mail: tabeth@consumernewsnamibia.com Cell: 081 409 3448

Our mission is to create a platform for you the Namibian consumer, who strives to see improvement in the value of goods and services and are savvy enough to spot misleading advertising and poor quality products and services. You deserve more, and together we You deserve more ... have power in numbers, so we welcome your contributions, feedback, acknowledgements and your voice on products and services that need our investigation.

Consumer News
PO Box 96366 Windhoek, Namibia Tel/Fax: +264 61 228 196

Contact details
Namibia Consumer Protection Group: Milton Louw. E-mail: miltonlouw@gmail.com Namibia Customer Service Institute: Jon Allen. E-mail: csinstitute@iway.na Website: www.namibiacsi.com Namibian Consumer Lobby: Bob Ziekenoppasser. Tel: 064-461 461 or 081 284 8000 Namibian Standards Institution: Tel: 061-386 400 / Queries: query@nsi.com.na Website: www.nsi.com.na

Enquiries
info@consumernewsnamibia.com

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contents
table of Feature
The rising cost of food prices By Rob Parker

03 07 09 11 15 19 20 21 23

Editorial
Supreme’s nightmare chicken By Louis Maruwasa

Efficiency in the hospitality industry
By A. T. Software Engineering

Criminalising innovation By Victoria Kangombe

INTEC investigated By Rob Parker

Am I insured By Denver Isaacs

NSI Metrology Department up and running By Namibia Standards Institute

Entertainment
Valentines, here we go again By Rob Parker and Victoria Kangombe

Sports
New appointment at NRU
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letters

I write to inform you and to seek your advice on the way I was treated by the Area Manager of Lewis Store on Independence Avenue. I bought a sitting room suite from Lewis around the months of November/December 2009. I used it for about two months before the set started peeling and looking like it was used for more than 5 years. I complained and in February 2010 I was able to get another set – same type but new. I used this set for another two months and it started peeling and looking old just like the other one. In May 2010 I went back and informed them about the problem, someone came to analyse the situation and I was informed that they will send a complaint to the factory and they will let me know. Since May, I have been contacting the store and nothing was done and most of the time I was informed that the person who helped me was no longer there and that I must give the story to the new person. This went on until September 2010. At this point I was very upset and I went to the store again and informed the manager that I am really disappointed and that I really needed them to do something. The manager, a very friendly lady, apologised to me and informed me that she will make sure that the set is picked up the same day as there were people who worked there who know my case and who agreed with me. The set was picked up and two days later I was informed that I must go to the shop to pick up another set. I went to the shop and unfortunately for me I could not find something that I liked. I was also informed by the manager who helped me that day that I must wait till end of October as they were expecting new stock. I went out of town and when I came back, around the 26th of November I went to the shop, that day I was told that no pick up authority was received from the manufacturer and that someone will call me on 01 December 2010. The person then called me on 02 December 2010 and told me they will not accept my complaint. I went to the shop to seek clarity only to be told that this is the instruction from the Area Managers. I demanded to see the Area Manager who I was told gave the instruction. The Area Manager, a very rude fellow, eventually spoke to me after I waited for 30 minutes. This man told me he was doing me a favour so I should apparently just take another set that looked just the same as my old set. When I informed him that I wanted value for money and that I will not take the same set because even the one he is offering me was brought back by a customer who was not satisfied, he refuse to do anything. Speaking to me in a disrespectful manner, he then warned me that if I don’t accept the set he is offering me, he will process it as a repossessed item and it will be listed against my name at ITC. I seek your advice in the matter because I feel I do not have a choice but to accept the inferior good or get my name listed. What right do I have as a consumer?

The area managers spoke to me in a way I can not speak to another person. I look forward to hear from you Sincerely W. Shivute First of all let me congratulate all of you with the magazine Consumer News; always interesting. I think it contributes to making consumers more aware of our rights and maybe obligations to be more alert when shopping. Good luck for the New Year. My question: Why do eggs not have a sell-by-date? Often you are in the middle of baking and get the unpleasant surprise of stale and old eggs. So many people complain about that. Maybe Consumer News can tackle that issue. Furthermore I would suggest at least a minimum of training for shop assistants - e.g. packers. Why are they not told - “You do not put the big bottle of vinegar - or bag of sugar - on top of the grapes /tomatoes.” Small things but they can make such a lot of difference - groceries are getting more and more expensive these days. Swakopmund can also do with an inspection from your team many a rotten apple amongst the others etc. Keep up the good work. Kind regards Waltraut I’ve read the article on Woermann Brock in December’s issue and would like to add that for many times I’ve seen expired cheeses and in very bad conditions at Woermann Klein Windhoek. There was a roll of pecorino cheeses that were in the worst condition that a supermarket would possibly offer to its customers – especially with the prices that Woerman offers. When will someone do something about it!? For me, Woermann is only to buy cans and packs of pasta, but still checking the expiring dates! Thanks for your article! Carolina Medeiros

Letters to the editor, with the writers name, should be emailed to vikki@consumernewsnamibia.com Letters may be edited for reasons of space and clarity
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The rising costs of food

By Rob Parker

What is behind the rising costs and what can be done about it? There are several reasons for the skyrocketing cost of food. The rise of global powerhouses China and India contribute to rising prices of food as their populations are gaining purchasing power and increase demand. Primary among these reasons is the use of bio fuels such as ethanol. Ethanol is an additive which is added to gasoline to make it burn more cleanly and reduce emissions. What we are doing in this case is burning food rather than using it to feed people. Actually it is worse than that. Farmers are being subsidised to grow food for fuel, artificially inflating the price of the food people actually eat. Increased demand, spurred by bio fuel production, also insures an increase in the price of inputs such as land, seed and fertilizer, which are, eventually passed on to the consumer. This practice of blending ethanol with petrol does nothing for the environment as claimed because at least
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feature
as much energy is used growing, harvesting, transporting, and converting the food into fuel. It is a political decision that may make sense in the lobbyist offices of behemoths such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland. The decision to burn food and subsidise farmers to grow food instead is a political decision, an artificial market that only exists, and can only exist, because of a political boondoggle. Easy lobbyist money and a politically popular move to ensure farmers, who are a critical constituency for many politicos, provide the rationale for this system. When the price of staples such as corn, soy and wheat rise, almost everything else in the aisle rises accordingly as corn is an ingredient in a myriad of items including cattle feed and breakfast cereal. Another reason for the spike in prices is commodity speculation. This is a matter of betting on whether food prices will rise or fall. Essentially betting on whether people will be able to afford food or not, which is a slimy enough activity. These are however not merely passive observers speculating on whether the price will rise because when you get a large number of people buying and selling (speculating on whether the price will rise or fall), they actually influence the price. This often causes it to spike beyond all semblance of supply and demand, skews the market and ensures that some people go hungry. Essentially, as a commodity speculator, you are gambling on how many of your fellow human beings starve and are attempting to profit as much as possible from this action. A commodity speculator is essentially a parasite, he does not create, grow or invent, he adds no value, finishes no product, yet makes more money than doctors, lawyers and engineers. It is time to tax these people. It is only the unholy grip that Wall Street has on Washington that prevents initiatives such as the Tobin tax from being introduced; that would reign in all of this destructive capital. Governments around the world are trying to grapple with this issue and most are unable to do much about it as the crisis is global. Governments have already fallen due to the crisis such as Tunisia and now possibly the Mubarak government in Egypt. In Namibia, some prices are offset due to V.A.T exemptions and the special pricing formula of maize meal. Longer term remedies include the green scheme and efforts to support domestic agriculture. As prices rise, the state may find that further action needs to be taken.

Here is what you need to do:

1. Lay out your tyres. Create some drainage. The article suggested digging up the soil to create drainage. Since the soil where I laid the tyres is rock hard clay, I put some stone and broken block pieces in to create drainage. 2. Put in some dirt and growing material. I covered the drainage material with compost soil, and then filled the rest with leaves. Be sure to stuff the soil into the sides. You can use soil, leaves, or partially rotten sawdust. You can also use a little of all three. 3. Get the potatoes ready. You’ll want to use seed potatoes, not just some that you’ve had too long in your cupboard. Seems the potatoes you buy to eat have been treated to not grow. Those that do start growing will not do well. Cut them in pieces so that each piece has two eyes in it. 4. Plant them. Put three or four potato pieces in each tyre, and cover with planting material. 5. Water 6. Wait. Next, I waited for the plants to be about 20 cm tall. Then I added another tyre, and enough dirt, leaves, or sawdust to cover all but five or seven cm of the plant. The process will be repeated until there are four tyres stacked. To harvest, simply remove one tyre at a time, and remove the potatoes. A four tyre stack is expected to yield about 11 kg of potatoes.
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As an individual there is no magic solution to combating these increasing costs to your household but there are some things that can be done. One is to buy local and support Namibian producers which helps us all in the long-run. Other solutions may include bartering with people in your community or starting a backyard garden. Here is an example of how to grow potatoes in old tires in your backyard.

editorial

By Luis Maruwasa

Supreme’s Nightmare Chickens
It’s Saturday: grocery shopping day. You walk into your favourite supermarket and head straight for the cold foods department to get some braai packs to prepare your family’s favourite chicken dish. You stop on your heels after remembering an article you read on www.businessday.co.za/Articles/Content. aspx?id=130479 . The article was on a new practice of washing old chickens, injecting them with brine, repacking them and stamping them with a new “use-before” date before putting them back on sale. Could the bird you are about to purchase be recycled and past its sell-by-date? During December in South Africa, the Business Day newspaper published an article that revealed a practice in which expired chickens were being reworked, placed back in the freezer, and sold as fresh chicken. Could these nightmare chickens be in the fridges of Namibian supermarkets duping unaware consumers as well? We take a look to find out if it’s happening. The scandal centres on Supreme Chicken, a company with a slogan that reads: “The people’s choice in chicken”. This company also sells chicken into Namibia via Country Bird Holdings (CBH). What is reworking? Reworking is a process in which chicken that is not looking too fresh or is nearing its expiry date is washed and treated with chemicals like chlorine to give it a fresh look. They then prep up its feel and taste so that it can be repacked and sold as fresh chicken at normal retail prices. Not only is this a health concern but it also brings to light the question of whether its fair for consumers not to be told that the chicken they are eating has been through this process and also of people having to pay a price for first grade chicken for second (or perhaps no) grade chicken? Is this a practice that is contained and limited to the supermarket spaces of South Africa or has Namibia’s dependence of South African suppliers and franchise stores led to some of this night mare chicken creeping across the border? Are we all unknowingly buying doctored chicken from the super markets we trust to provide us with quality food and products? In a story dated 24 January 2011, the New Era newspaper picked on the trail of the chicken saga based on the fact that the Supreme’s products are distributed in Namibia as well. They reported that “Namibian authorities were last week passing the buck on which Government agency or ministry is responsible for ensuring that Namibian consumers are not sold reprocessed and repacked frozen chickens.” Since the story’s publishing late last year in Business Day, Supreme Chicken has made several statements to try clear their name. Mr. Izaak Breitenbach, Managing Director for Supreme Poultry (Pty) Ltd released a letter to tackle queries from Zimbabwe about the same issue. In the letter he stated: “Subsequently all chicken meat products for export are certified with an official veterinary health certificate by the relevant State Veterinarian. The chicken meat is certified that it was obtained from poultry that were free from an outbreak of infectious and contagious diseases as requested by the Zimbabwean Veterinary Authorities and specifically includes Avian Influenza (Fowl Plague) - H5N1 and other High Pathogenic AI strains and New Castle Disease. It therefore needs to be clearly stated that all officially certified chicken meat exported from approved Supreme Poultry abattoirs to Zimbabwe, is safe for human consumption at the time of export with reference to infectious and contagious diseases.” www.supremechicken.net We contacted the Ministry of Health and Social Services but did not get a response out of them because they couldn’t confirm whether it was their, or the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s place to comment.

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editorial

Efficiency in the hospitality industry
By Vaino Tuhafeni Hangula

The hospitality industry is undoubtedly one of the biggest contributors to the Namibian economy. Each year thousands of tourists, both foreign and domestic, book into hotels, guesthouses and lodges all across the country. This has an obvious effect on the efficiency of any given business in the hospitality industry, especially during peak season when many guests request for accomodation. Most visitors do their bookings well in advance, often six months to a year to avoid disappointment. This leaves businesses with a mammoth task of recording, storing and keeping such records, especially because many of these businesses carry out such operations manually. When there are changes to be made to the booking, the person who had recorded the booking will have to go back to the record and make the necessary changes, manually calculate the new rates, and update the booking. There is no doubt that this process is very inefficient and time-consuming. This has led to extra charges being levied on changes done to bookings in order to make up for the time lost while amending the booking. This is very costly for both the guests and the businesses. Another area of concern is bookings done in groups such as workshops, church groups, school tours and corporate outings. These types of bookings do not allow for very detailed information because such records capture only the number of people, how long they will stay and how many rooms are needed. This may sound like adequate information. Not having details on individual persons may however pose a problem. For instance, there is no way to tell whether the people booked to take up a certain space will indeed need to make use of such spaces. Also, corruption is very rife in group bookings done manually because often the people will find alternative accommodation and pocket the money intended for the bookings into a lodge or hotel. A recent example of this is the case of the former employees of the national broadcaster who were sent on an assignment and given money to book into a lodge. Instead, they stayed with family and
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friends and faked invoices for accommodation at a lodge. The hospitality industry and the company that sent these folks on the assignment have both lost out as a result. Although rare, receptionists and booking agents may be tempted to fall for kickbacks in order to make a quick buck by forging and amending invoices as well. In short, strict measures are needed to curb corruption and kick-backs in the hospitality industry when it comes to group bookings. What the industry needs is an automated solution for bookings, reports generation and invoicing. Such a solution is effective and efficient, cost and time saving, and roots out possible corruption. The answer to the problems identified above is a semi-automated system that makes it easy to find available rooms and dates as well as to keep records and generate reports and invoicing. In addition to that, some of these systems have a full accounting system that will add up all the totals and generate reports on these as well. These systems will reduce the workload surrounding the booking process tremendously because it makes it easier to find free rooms and dates as well as to amend bookings and generate invoices. All this can be done while every action is being recorded for record-keeping purposes in the accounting section. This will allow the business owners, auditors and analysts to have a clear picture of what is going on in the business during a given time. Such solutions offer both the customer and the business an efficient means of booking for shortterm accommodation because the customer can check online to see if there are available booking options and send a request for booking. In the same breath, the business will be able to check which rooms are available and receive an alert as soon as the rooms are available in real time. Such systems should be considered a welcome relief to individuals as well as corporate entities that send people to individually book for accommodation when on assignment. Vaino Tuhafeni Hangula is a Marketing and Sales Consultant for A. T. Software Engineering.

how about
A LIT TLE MORE OF THIS... A N D A L I T T L E L E S S O F T H AT ?
element creations / tn / how / 2010

T E A M N A M I B I A M E M B E R S A N D S U P P O R T E R S C R E AT E LO C A L W E A LT H . T E A M N A M I B I A . B E N A M I B I A N - B U Y N A M I B I A N . C R E AT I N G J O B S . S U P P O R T I N G LO C A L B U S I N E S S .

www.teamnamibia.com

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opinion

By Victoria Kangombe

One can tell a lot about a society by the type of criminals that come out of it and, of course (or perhaps consequently), by what is criminalised. After observing and entertaining this realisation, one gets to a point where you are not sure whether to point fingers at how the law is applied, at the police officer, at the ‘criminal’ for not seeking other means of survival, or at the government for not making available the said ‘other means’. Please note that by virtue, there is only one thing that is certain about the law and its applications: the fact that nothing is certain. Much, if not all, is apparently black and white in the eyes of the law; no gray areas. We should therefore not be surprised when a person who clearly cannot afford their existence in a capitalist world is fined for trying to feed their family. Legitimately. The axiom on the mutability of the law was passed onto me by my Criminology lecturer a few years ago during a lecture on The Law in Capitalism. Directing us to www.capitalism.org, my lecturer noted: “Government’s job is to protect rights... every man lives under a rule of law, as opposed to a whim-ridden rule of men. Under such a rule of law, all laws have only one purpose: to protect the rights of the smallest minority that has ever existed – the individual.” Is that the case with, among others, Regulation 22 of the Street and Traffic Regulations? At the time, it all sounded too idealistic. It did not make sense to me until I graduated into the world of monthly bills, taxes, and a newspaper report on an unemployed pregnant woman who was fined N$2 800 for stealing baby clothes worth N$282. As do so many people, I blame it on the system. The thing with the social system employed in Namibia, contrary to popular belief, is that it does not necessarily accommodate innovation, individuality and atypical vocations; we are expected to follow where the path may lead as it is apparently the only path to comfort and success. If then you cannot follow the path and choose to be innovative, you are forced into becoming a criminal just to survive. Take the education system for example, most of it accommodates individuals who are academically inclined and places those who thrive in vocational training at the periphery. I am not disputing the fact that Vocational
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Training Centres (VTCs) produce productive citizens, what I am saying is that these guys hardly get the same recognition as someone who scraped through their degree from the University of Namibia. What I am pushing at here is: If you cannot find a job with your woodwork qualification, what do you do? Our education system has, without a doubt reared brilliant individuals, but it also seduces multitudes of talented youth into professions that are known for their easy and abundantly flowing financial rewards while avoiding those that require much greater raw intellectual capacity – like legitimate entrepreneurship. What is worse, very early in their lives, our talented youth come to realise that fields that improve the lives of others may not make them rich, but moving money/‘goods’ from here to there will. We are not tackling the education system in this piece however; we will be looking at how the law is applied to apparently protect the rights of the minority. Consider the Criminal Justice System (CJS; what praises can you confidently sing regarding Namibia’s CJS? What can be said about our rehabilitation and reintegration programmes? Martin Gross, author of The Conspiracy of Ignorance and The Government Racket: Washington Waste from A to Z, once commented: “...laws are written by men with considerable net worth, and with little understanding of what wage-earners must do to make ends meet.” This is illustrated by recent newspaper articles on car washers in the CBD being arrested for (apart from spoiling the City’s definition of aesthetics) doing just a quarter of the damage that car washing businesses in Greenwell Matongo’s Eveline Street are doing on a daily basis – Monday through Sunday. Another newspaper reported on a Zimbabwean female breadwinner for a family of six who was sentenced to a year for selling catapults without a business permit (please note woodenface expression). An alternative to the sentence was a fine payment of N$2000 fine. She makes N$1500 a month. These actions awoke a latent wave of anger and dissatisfaction with the establishment throughout the Namibian nation as it either directly affects them or they view it as a pending occurrence in their own lives. Either way, it has made many aware of what the role of law actually is in our social system: steel chains for the poor, spider webs for the rich and fishing nets in the hands of the criminal justice system. This implies that the poorer one is the greater the impact of social exclusion. What I mean by this is that the lower one stands in socio-economic class,

the farther one is pushed to the periphery, if not off the government in offering these particular capital collective edge. creatives a hand-to-mouth livelihood in prison. So, what am I on about? We need those guys to wash our cars while we There is a less obvious aspect of our system that queue up to fill the assets management firm’s coffers. I came to learn of recently: one finds that a stock broker We need someone to sell catapults and vetkoek at the and a relatively junior retirement fund manager makes construction site around the corner. We need more people a great deal more money in her career than would Peter like Peter Arndt to device means of reducing lowerArndt from Otjiwarongo who invented the OtjiToilet, an income households’ monthly expenses and risks of falling invention that could drastically improve the lives of not ill. We need more people who build value not a bunch of only Namibians, but millions of people around the world. speculators who make money regardless of whether value Take it as an idealistic way of thinking on my part, but gets created or destroyed. We especially need lawmakers ponder upon the thought either way. that recognise the value that these people bring to the table We have come to learn that a substantial and innovative leadership that works to incorporate those number of last year’s matriculants have not done so well on the periphery into the mainstream. academically and are likely to find themselves roaming the Our leadership’s actions conjures up questions streets, implying yet more growth in the unemployment on what democracy actually is, who the actions outlined rate. With so many unemployed people in the country, in Vision 2030 actually include, why one even bothers we still do not see broadqueuing to vote, when a based improvements that social reform is going to could lure investors into happen, and whether one He may not afford the cheapest daily newspaper our midst; an action that should even bother asking is clearly not in favour of such questions. but knows of the rise in food prices and those whose rights are of To the latter, I respond: understands clearly what the petrol price great importance to the if you do not question, you increase means for his future. He doesn’t need government. will not learn. If you are an economist to tell him that; every morning is a To ice the cake, not learning, you are not reminder, to himself, of his social class. the local media reports that living. What would be the News headlines don’t bother him much Namibia is doing quite well point right? The core of this though; he is concerned about the unemployed with regards to investors piece is to, if not initiate youth roaming the streets. To him it means more pouring money into the the social reform, mobilise Patrolling City Police officers forcing him to country. Quite well? Are a group of people who are cede the most accessible and relatively legal we? Or is this a fact just hungry for change; people means of feeding his family. because Namibia is the who are inspired by the third largest producer of work of individuals such This places him at a crossroads: uranium in the world? Can as Mohamed Yunus who “Perhaps I should pay my old friends a visit; someone tell me what that started the Grameen Bank. it’s quick and easy cash. I’ll be more careful means for the guy who leads It is not to offer a this time; my reputation can do without another a hand-to-mouth life on the solution; that is beyond stroke on my criminal record. Eish! But my wife’s outskirts of Windhoek? me. One of my colleagues pregnant again...what if I get caught again...?” No we’re not did however suggest that doing well. Not when we a trust fund be opened for have our innovators and those who bear the burden atypical entrepreneurs being underfunded, if at all, when of social exclusion: street vendors, car washers, you name they request for assistance in advancing their inventions. them. Those that do get funding are required to sign away their These incidences are not confined to Namibia; such cases intellectual property to a ‘more educated’ individual or an have been reported elsewhere in Africa, the most recent institution that has the capacity to further the creation. being in Tunisia where a fruit and vegetables vendor set How is it we have a government that makes himself on fire in defiance of law enforcers’ order for him provision in its budget for formal and informal educational- to be arrested. (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/22/ and community development programmes but it still world/africa/22sidi.html?_r=1 ). arrests the people for whom it made these provisions for? The manner in which the law is applied in Namibia I’m really upset here because the current system does is a thorn in the side because creative people with dreams not offer other alternatives for a means of survival but are running out of ways to survive legitimately. I really to become a ‘criminal’. Soon, being a street kid will be hope I am off track here and someone will comment to criminalised – vagrancy. prove me wrong! Please join the discussion on www. What’s sad is that these innovators and atypical consumernewsnamibia.com. Our forum needs your voice entrepreneurs are being arrested and filling prisons for and our nation needs your enthusiasm. Log on now. trying to make ends meet. Even sadder, we are all assisting
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INVITATION

GOLF

Corporate
fun day
We take pleasure in inviting you to our first annual corporate fun day which takes place at the Windhoek Country Club Resort and Casino.

The day offers the perfect platform for networking with the rest of the business fraternity coupled with some soothing greens and is followed by a tasteful live jazz performance and music during the evening. To optimise on your networking evening we will spoil you with a hearty and relaxing braai – no expense spared! The marketing managers and decision makers from the biggestNamibian firms will be present to celebrate and interact with your company

Consumer News provides

citizens across Namibia with a voice to address important consumer-related issues. Our new section, Business Watch, launching in March, will focus on financial news and economic trends with a focus on Namibian entrepreneurs. The golf course is reserved between 07:30am and 17:00pm. Upon your arrival and until 10am, tea, coffe, juice and muffins will be served and a light lunch awaits every player at the halfway stop. Play will be followed by our early-evening prize presentation for the lowest team score and evening entertainment. Every team member will be handed a complimentary goodie bag. The entry form can be downloaded from www.consumernewsnamibia.com, please feel free to copy these for your playing partners and dinner guests.

We look forward to meeting you on 31st March 2011. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact either: Tabeth Nyahasha (081 409 3448) or Jacques Nieman (081 203 7180) for any further information.
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editorial

intecsucks.com?

By Rob Parker

In October I received a letter from Mr Nico Smith, a resident of Windhoek, whose daughter had enrolled at Intec College for distance learning courses. They paid their fee in full and were told that the study materials for the course would appear in one week. Those materials, despite being paid for have never arrived even until this day. After waiting for months for the promised material, Mr Smith got tired of being given excuse after excuse for non-performance. He decided to ask for a refund. Mr Slatter, who is the Business Manager of Intec, replied on October 20th via an email I was copied in to that the materials will arrive in “24-48” hours. Over 1100 hours have since passed and this also did not happen. I was contacted again in January
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by Mr Smith and I went to speak with him. He told me that his daughter, Rene, has phoned and visited the Intec branch in Windhoek time and again but did not receive the required assistance. She phoned so often and was so diligent that the staff at Intec would pick up the phone and just sit it on the counter while she was on the line. We applaud consumers like Rene who do not take these things lying down and pursued her refund which was, and is still, being wrongfully denied to her. Mr Smith was, understandably, upset and made the point that while he and his daughter could afford such a school, many Namibian families would indeed have to sacrifice very much to pay the tuition at a school like Intec. What happens when their money >>

HOW TO LODGE A COMPLAINT

WITH

NAMFISA

In the last Consumer News Edition, we promised to bring you information relating to how you can lodge a complaint with NAMFISA.

If you feel aggrieved by any non-bank financial institution registered by NAMFISA and doing business in Namibia, kindly do the following:
Ensure that you have a valid complaint by verifying with the NAMFISA Complaints Department at the following telephone numbers: 290 5134 or 290 51987 You will be required to first lodge your complaint with the financial institution concerned (in writing). If you fail to resolve the matter, then you can contact NAMFISA Keep copies of all relevant documentation to send with the complaint and for record purposes Keep copies of all correspondences between you and the financial institution Do not send original copies unless required Record names of the people at the financial institution, dates, contact details and other important information (this makes the investigation easier and faster to conclude) If you complain on the phone, always follow up the call with a letter Back up and substantiate your claim in writing as far as possible Be clear on complaint matters

Complaints can be submitted by:
e-mail Post Hand (in person) Fax Website (internet)

NAMFISA:

NAMFISA Legal Department PO Box 21250 Windhoek 2nd Floor Sanlam Centre Fax number: 061- 209 5122 www.namfisa.com.na

We want to hear from you, contact us:
*normal SMS charges apply

0800 290 5000 P.O. Box 21250, Windhoek or SMS to 3030* or Email: consumer@nam sa.com.na

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is taken? Do they have the skills and patience or even the time to have a 6 month period of correspondence with Intec to get their money back? I did my own research on Intec and found that, by no means, was this an isolated incident. There are literally over a thousand similar complaints against this school. The message board at sites such as hellopeter. com were jammed with students complaining about a lack of service and accountability. One enterprising and obviously very displeased individual went to the extent of creating a website intecsucks.co.za which details the travails of hundreds of angry students unable to get their course material or refunds. The school seems to manage to collect money though, all payments made to them clear in a few days, and they also seem to find the time to take out full page colour advertisements in the Namibian and other newspapers here. So what is the problem? I went to the Windhoek branch, which happens to be in the same building as Consumer News. I was helped by staff there, they said they were aware of Rene’s situation but could not ‘comment to the media’ and I was given the contact number of Fanus Potgieter in South Africa. I contacted Mr Potgieter and asked him if he could assist me in retrieving the monies owed to the Smith family. I was, like others assured that this would happen. I called a few times after that and my calls were not returned. A few days later however, Dale Chaplin from Intec contacted me and informed me that a refund was in the works for Rene. I told him that I will wait a few days before writing this story in the hopes that I would have a happier tale to tell and that I would not have to tip-toe past the Intec office on my way to work. A few more days passed and I received this email explaining Intec’s side of the story and informing me that Rene has been refunded. Hi Rob, Please find attached the Proof of Refund for R. Tromp (daughter of Nico Smith) Thank you for allowing INTEC the opportunity to respond to the student complaint regarding the late delivery of study guides. INTEC has been offering quality education for over 100 years to students nationally and internationally and is committed to continue offering a quality world-class service to our students. The short-term late delivery of study material is due to the following reasons: 1. The exceptionally high volume of student registrations in 2010 peak enrolment period had far exceeded our growth projections for that period (based on previous trends). This then created a
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backlog to supply study material to our students in the busiest time of our business which is January to June of every year. In light of this, we have been running urgent interventions which are dependent on third party involvement, outgoing calls and sms campaigns to inform students of the backlog and to help identify the students that are experiencing the late delivery of study material. This will enable us to service them according. 2. We migrated our Stock Management System at the end of 2009 which subsequently malfunctioned in our busy season. As a result, our Learner Management System would indicate that the study material had been dispatched only to discover that certain students did not receive their material. Most of the IT issues have been addressed and INTEC has now set themselves up for the New Year and its student intake and have new in-house systems in place to ensure smooth delivery of all study material for new enrolments. The Student Support Call Centre number is 0860313131 or they can email us on support@intec.edu.za INTEC will ensure that no student who receives their study material late due to the backlog will be disadvantaged and all affected students will be given an extension of not more than 6 months in order to write their final exams. All students who have been affected by the above will be granted a 10 % discount on their next course registration with INTEC. Regards Dale Chaplin National Commercial Manager If INTEC is at fault then we definitely look at resolving the complaint immediately by assisting the student to complete their studies or else request from the student that all cancellation processes and documentation are completed correctly to enable us to process the refund. The problem is that when I contacted the family to see if they have received their money, I was told that they had not. Intec did attach a proof of payment but the branch number did not match. I prefer to believe that this was an honest mistake and that the refund will materialise shortly. My advice to students, based upon all the evidence put before me, all the broken promises which I witnessed, would be to avoid this school until they have proven themselves able to operate in an even-handed and transparent manner.
*Intec has, at the time of going to print, just refunded the money; we thank Dale Chaplin for his attention.

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editorial
Consumer News looked into her complaint and spoke to various players in the insurance industry, including companies Hollard, Securitas, and Santam. Neither of the companies, nor the recently established Insurance Institute of Namibia (IIN), could confirm knowledge of the said case, especially given the complainant’s reluctance to be identified. However, according to officials at the aforementioned institutes, the problem may be a lot simpler to explain, if not easier to take care of. “The problem might be that the goods weren’t insured correctly for her to claim for electrical damage,” says Pieter Rix, of Hollard Insurance Company. According to Rix and others in the insurance industry, clients should ensure that they know exactly what they’re paying for once they sign up for insurance coverage. According to the IIN, malfunctions resultant from frequent power failures must be covered under what is defined “mechanical electric breakdown insurance” which is not the same as the standard household insurance. Especially in need of mechanical electric breakdown insurance are sensitive computer equipment like laptops and desktop computers, as well as major domestic appliances, more commonly known as white appliances. These include refrigeration equipment (freezers and refrigerators) and stoves (cookers and microwave ovens), items that may require substantial and special electrical wiring to supply higher current than standard electrical outlets. Unfortunately, the electricity supplier for the Erongo region, Erongo Red, failed to respond to questions sent to it by the magazine, regarding the frequency of power outages within the region, as well as the company’s track record in informing residents timeously when power outages should be expected. Either way, besides insuring your goods against electrical malfunction, there are other additional means of securing the longevity of your appliances. One of these is to use a Surge Protector (or a surge suppressor), which is a device that regulates the voltage supplied to your electrical devices by either blocking or shorting to ground voltages higher than the safe threshold. Lightning strikes, power outages and tripped circuit breakers are just some of the causes of voltage spikes (transients), often significantly increasing the electrical voltage of a circuit. The effects of these transients, especially if frequent in occurrence, are an accumulation of damage until it finally fails. Surge Protectors work as such: the higher the Joule rating, the more energy it can absorb without failing. If properly installed, the surge protector will protect equipment plugged into it by blowing a component called Metal Oxide Veristor (MOV), while diverting most of the surge energy to ground, according to the IEEE Power and Energy Society Surge Protective Device Committee in the US.

Am I insured?
By Denver Isaacs

Insurance. Just the utterance of that word is meant to evoke a feeling of peace and control over your assets and property. As the principle goes: you pay a monthly premium, and as soon as the unexpected rocks up at your door-step, you’re covered. Thieves broke into your car? Geyser exploded and ruined your roof and carpets? Did last night’s lightning barely miss you but took out your TV, DSTV decoder and PlayStation 3? Not to worry though because the solution is simple. Right? It’s just a matter if getting the quotations, filling in the claims form, and getting it sorted. Right? “Not quite,” says one Henties Bay resident who recently found herself at a loss for words when her insurance provider apparently told her that it wasn’t as simple. The woman, who asked to remain anonymous so as not to be labelled a trouble-maker at the fishing town, says a number of power outages over the past year recently resulted in a lazer printer belonging to her company packing up and malfunctioning. “I had to send it down to Windhoek, but after they (insurance) had it checked, we had to eventually replace it ourselves. They told us that they’re no longer paying out for electric malfunctions because there are supposedly too many power outages happening in Henties Bay,” she said.
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editorial

NSI’s METROLOGY
The process for setting up a laboratory is time-consuming; it requires apt human resources, suitable accommodation, specialised equipment and validated methods or procedures. Once all these are in place, the laboratory has to be accredited to ISO/IEC 17025-2005. These are general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories, by an accreditation body to demonstrate its competence to carry out the specified tasks. The NSI Metrology laboratory has two important roles. The first is through scientific/industrial metrology in which precision measurement science is applied for the development, realisation and maintenance of National Measurement Standards that are representations of the SI units, to which all measurements should be traceable. NSI will then disseminate measurement traceability through calibration services to industry at the required accuracy levels through a hierarchy of measurement standards. In this role, NSI also has to demonstrate its competence and the equivalence of the National Measurement Standards (to those of other countries) through participation in several conformity assessment activities like intra- and inter-laboratory comparisons and peer reviews of its calibration measurement capabilities (CMCs). This will be achieved through effective participation in activities of Regional Metrology Organisations (RMOs). Working groups in various fields of scientific metrology are already functional through Southern Africa Development Community-Cooperation in Measurement Traceability (SADCMET) and The Intra-Africa Metrology System (AFRIMETS). Participation with good results will culminate in CMCs that will be recognised internationally and published on the International Bureau for Weights and Measures (BIPM) Key Comparison Database (KCDB). Associate membership to BIPM is the ultimate goal of the function of the NSI metrology laboratory in this role. The second role of the NSI Metrology Division is through complementing the Ministry of Trade and Industry by providing Legal Metrology Services. NSI would provide services in verification of prescribed measuring instruments used in trade (such as scales, weights, weigh bridges, volume measures, fuel pumps, water meters etc). NSI will also inspect pre-packaged goods, offer training to, and register, mechanics for the repair verification of prescribed measuring instruments.

Department up and running
Focus will be given to regulatory requirements of measurements and measuring instruments for the protection of health, public safety and the environment. Capacity will be developed within the NSI to offer type approval of measuring instruments. In this capacity the NSI metrology laboratory derives its expertise from participation in Southern Africa Development Community-Cooperation in Legal Metrology (SADCMEL) activities (and ultimately membership to OIML) whose recommendations are used to draft technical regulations to which compliance by industry is mandatory. Synergies are exploited as the Legal metrology function of the NSI receives direct measurement traceability and technical assistance through the calibration of its verification standards by the National Measurement Standards. The NSI would seamlessly blend these two roles and effectively administer the Metrology Amendment Act of 2005, pending the drafting of a new metrology act to be based on the SADC Model Metrology Act. The NSI’s Metrology Division is currently staffed by 3 employees. A Metrology Manager, Victor Mundembe, has been appointed to lead the department from 1 September 2010. He is being assisted by two Industrial Metrologists. The Metrology Team has embarked on a campaign to involve Namibian companies and organisations in deliberations that will influence the activities of NSI’s Metrology Division. The team is engaging numerous Namibian companies and organisations to determine their metrology needs. Apart from visits to these institutions, a questionnaire will also be circulated requesting details of measurement instrumentation and to assess the level of awareness on metrology needs. The information collected will be kept confidential and will assist the NSI Metrology Laboratory to develop appropriate metrological services to the benefit of the Namibian Industry. The questionnaire is available for download from the NSI website: www.nsi.com.na. More information about the survey can be requested from the Manager: Metrology, Victor Mundembe via e-mail: mundembev@nsi.com.na.
For any queries or further information please contact the Namibian Standards Institution on (061) 386 400 or e-mail: query@nsi.com.na

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entertainment

Here we go again...
By Rob Parker and Victoria Kangombe

So here you are… January was the worst month ever, you are still reeling from a hazy spending spree at Christmas, add drunken binge spending on New Year’s Eve and after that you were broke. Then you have to get through January, school fees and other expenses. It is, hands down, the worst month ever. You are broke, broke, and broke, but the beginning of February heralds a gleam of light at the end of the
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tunnel. Finally some relief: but hello? What fresh hell is this? The gangsters from Hallmark and their toadying subordinates from the floral and hospitality industries are promising to wreak havoc on your relationship if you do not spend your last few dollars on wildly inflated restaurant prices. If you do not skip food for three days leading up to February 14 so you can buy some roses, which mysteriously jumped 1200% in price last week, than somehow you are unworthy of love.

This has always been a nonsense holiday; A holiday for making single people marginally suicidal and hammering the rest of us with debt, just when we are recovering from January. So what is it that makes one think that you should only give flowers on this day, chosen by Hallmark Freemasons and the Floral Illuminati, rather than, oh say, March 23 or July 7? Vast tracts of arable farmland land in developing countries are occupied by distinctly useless roses that pass for signs of affection in the industrialised nations. Ask yourself why your significant other, who ostensibly cares for you, just has to go to a restaurant on the day when the price is doubled? Why can your partner not be happy with the EXACT same food… four days later, when everything is back to normal? Why are roses not acceptable February 28th, when florists have regained their senses? Does your partner secretly loathe you? Is this their final act before they dump you via sms? I think it’s a good sign. I think it is time to reclaim Valentines Day from the corporate swine. Iran has banned the holiday as western propaganda. I am urging the Namibian Government to do the same. Save us from the depredations of Big Flower and the Criminals at Hallmark with their syrupy sentiment that just makes it hard for the average guy to get his point across. Here in Namibia, and on any other day, taking a girl to kapana makes you a man’s man, especially when you add on a Fanta and a vetkoek from those memes at single quarters. If you then end off the day with sundowners at Goreagab Dam, why would she not want to do it again on Valentine’s Day? It’s not as if the Dam is less dirty on Valentines Day. Ah, a light bulb just flickered; since many of these Namibian ladies love those mindless means of entertainment called soapies, how’s about you have a picnic in the bush somewhere? Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the plot always leads to misfortune: someone either falls into an old abandoned mine shaft, there might be an old flame lurking around psychotically plotting to kill both of you, or you might just run into the B1 Butcher, conveniently. Your partner might take you for a cheapskate but if you’ve had it with Valentine’s Day, and a partner who is an avid believer in the day, try the soapie move; it will save you from a shallow partner and save you bucket loads of money. On this horrid day, the average American consumer will shell out $116.21 on traditional Valentine’s Day merchandise this year, according to the National Retail Federation. That is roughly N$1,200. Consumers, unite and refuse to pay inflated costs for flowers and contrived N$200 restaurant ‘Special Valentines menus’. Declare that you have had enough and refuse to participate in this charade any longer. If anybody needs more information on this boycott, it will be easy to find me… I will be sleeping on the couch.
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sports

New appointment at NRU
By staff reporter
The Namibia Rugby Union is a mess and newly appointed interim administrator Steph Nel will be hardpressed to turn its fortunes around in just under seven months. Nel’s primary objective is to help the troubled union ensure smooth World Cup preparations for the ailing national team. However, his biggest challenge could be to douse the in-house squabbles that have become the order of the day at the NRU, given that its president Buks Bock has in recent times admitted that his organisation was dysfunctional, which prompted the IRB’s intervention. According to IRB’s Head of Development and Performance, Mark Egan, the NRU’s troubles were nothing new in the rugby world as even the biggest of unions faced similar challenges. Apart from being plagued by poor finances, the NRU also has a small staff made up mostly of volunteers. Egan is however confident that with Nel at the helm, albeit temporarily, Namibian rugby affairs would get back on track. “Given that this is World Cup year, we need the union to be on top of its game,” said Eagan of the IRB’s decision to appoint Nel. “Nel has a lot of experience and is a highly qualified coach and administrator,” the renowned IRB official continued. “The union has limited funds with which to work with but they have good structures in place.” Nel, who
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doubles as the head of the Western Province Rugby Institute, assumes his new role on March 20 and will assist Namibian national coach Johan Diergaardt put his development programme for the Welwitschias in place. The programme includes the annual South African Vodacom Cup competition as well as the IRB Nations Cup in Romania in June where Namibia will play test matches against Romania, Georgia and Portugal. Three more matches against “strong opposition” – potentially against the Argentina Jaguars and the South African Students – have also been earmarked for July and August. “My job is to come up with a strategy that will aid the NRU and the national team,” said Nel. “Namibia has a long history of producing good rugby players so I think we can get the current guys competitive for the World Cup. “It’s gonna be a challenge. But it’s one I’m looking forward to.” DOMESTIC TROUBLE Despite the IRB’s public backing of the NRU management, local rugby clubs have submitted a vote of no confidence with the Ministry of Sport. Last week, 22 of the 25 NRU affiliated rugby teams have launched an urgent application with the line ministry requesting an urgent AGM to be held in order to oust the Bock

regime. Bock, who ended his frosty relationship with Chief Executive Officer Sackey Mouton – by way of suspension at the back end of last year – and his deputy Karel Losper, have been accused of running the NRU into the ground. Bock’s dismissal of Mouton has not gone down well with the clubs. He said Mouton had defied his authority by staging the recent international Sevens Tournament in Walvis Bay without his approval. Bock alleged that Mouton could not provide proof of sponsorships for the tournament which has now left the cash-strapped union with a more than N$400 000

deficit. Mouton’s hearing was set for February 4. “It’s no secret that we are sitting in a financial problem,” Bock said. “We also have internal disputes that needs to be settled. “We hope that with the help of the IRB and Mr Nel, we will be able to turn the situation around,” he added. The IRB has pledged additional funding which it hoped will ease the financial situation. “Our funds are limited,” Egan said. “We hope that the Namibian government and private sector will also assist their national team in this important year.”

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Every month we pose a question sent in by a reader to our panel of experts. Send questions to viki@consumernewsnamibia.com or fax to (061) 228 196

“I received a call from a company at which I applied a few months ago telling me that my application was successful and that I had made it through the interview process. I am to start about a month from now. My problem however is that I recently found out that I am pregnant and that I am three months along. Is there a law against hiring pregnant women? Seeing that I will only officially work for about three (the other three are for probation and I take it, do not count), should I just refuse the offer? They might consider me more of a liability than an asset.”

Liezel Jansen - Jobs Unlimited

Do not just refuse the offer. You should at least inform your prospective employer of the situation in order for them to decide what route to follow. It is important to be honest with them so as not to lead them on. In most cases, companies appreciate it when you as the candidate are honest with them; it is after all a sign of good character and that might just help you get the job despite your situation. Depending on the company policy and procedures they will decide whether or not to employ you.

Coek Welsh - HR@WORK

Many women struggle with this when trying to find employment or when they are changing jobs. The short answer to your question is “No”. The Namibian Labour Act prohibits discrimination against, among others, an employee (or applicant for employment) on the grounds ofprevious, current or future pregnancy. This provision regarding pregnancy is explicitly stated in the Labour Act so no confusion about it should exist. It is prudent to disclose the status of your pregnancy during an interview situation. Another aspect that you need to keep in consideration: What is going to happen after your maternity leave is over? Some women prefer to stay at home and raise the baby. If you are planning to stay at home you need to state that desire explicitly to the new employer if you do decide to take the job as this could impact on your working relationship. However if you plan to return to work after your maternity leave this should not impact on the relationship. A last word of advice, make sure you are registered and that your SSC contributions are paid and up-to-date as the SSC will in all likelihood cover most of your salary while you are on maternity leave.

C Williams - Seesa Labour Namibia

In terms of Namibia Labour Act 2007, section 5, Prohibition of discrimination in employment, Subsection(5) (2)(9), of same section, expressively provide for non-discrimination in the employment context, directly or indirectly, or adopt any requirement or engage in any practice which has the effect of discrimination against any individual as on (g) previous, current or future pregnancy. The current law prohibits employers from discriminating against women that might be pregnant, and or hiring a prospective employee who is, or plans to be pregnant. Some companies and or industries have maternity policies, specifically formulated for the operations of industry and or the company. Any contract of employment will be subjected to the law, notwithstanding the probation period, her appointment was based on her professional work, she should therefore sit-down with her prospective employer and inform employer of her pregnancy. The possible impact may have on business operations, if only, and a possible stand-in for her absence.

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