Namibia’s expenditure on Covid-19 related expenses could be corruption-proof as the Anti-Corruption Commission is yet to receive any complaints involving the procurement or handling of funds concerning the pandemic.
This is according to Erna van der Merwe, the ACC’s deputy director general.
She was speaking at the commemoration of African Anti-Corruption Day in the capital on Monday.
This, she said, gives her office confidence that Namibia is on the right trajectory in the anti-graft fight.
The sixth edition of the continental anti-corruption day was celebrated under the banner ‘Strategies and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of Covid-19 Funds’.
The theme is fitting, she said, as Namibia recovers from the pandemic which crippled the economy, devastated livelihoods and claimed casualties of its own.
At the same time, she conceded that it is during times of crisis that corruption and outright theft of public resources thrives.
“During the Covid-19 health crisis, fighting corruption can mean the difference between life and death, adequate food or hunger, having a roof over one’s head or becoming homeless,” she asserted.
Van der Merwe’s office is duly informed that the Office of the Prime Minister accounted for all Covid-19 donations and expenditures, she said.
“The Anti-Corruption Commission did not receive complaints of corruption cases involving the direct management of Covid-19 funds that warranted investigation,” the lawyer said.
She continued, saying their hope is premised on the assumption that: “This results from strategic mechanisms put in place by the government and other sectors to ensure funds are used for the intended purposes.”
However, at least three individuals are being investigated by the Namibian Police for forging tender documents in connection with Covid-19 goods and services to the government.
This was confirmed by ministry of health’s executive director, Ben Nangombe, at the same event.
These individuals, he said, approached several financial institutions under the pretext that their ministry awarded them tenders.
The lies had short legs.
“There are people who wanted to take advantage of the disaster on more than three occasions. But our systems picked this up,” Nangombe said.
The ministry has also recorded cases of alleged theft of Covid-19 materials. They are being dealt with by the police and culprits brought to book.
Nangombe has since submitted the Covid-19 accountability report to the auditor general (AG).
The report remains classified until the AG makes it public through the National Assembly.
On the opposing end was researcher and Institute for Public Policy and Research executive director Graham Hopwhood, who criticised government’s accounting as far as Covid-19 is concerned.
He claims there is a lack of transparency and each time they request for information, they hit a brickwall.
Hopwood wants an accountability report on the emergency income grant (EIG) and the real identities of the companies involved in the procurement during the pandemic.
The government paid close to N$1 billion to an estimated 739 000 beneficiaries through the EIG.
“These companies cannot be traced to their real owners, even if you go to BIPA. You can’t say who owns them. We don’t want proxies,” he said.
An initial N$727 million was set aside for the pandemic.