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ACC slashes local travel budget

2020-06-23  Albertina Nakale

ACC slashes local travel budget
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The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) executive director, Hannu Shipena, strongly feels the proposal by the agency to trim down its budget on countrywide educational trips is premised on the fact such trips are a waste of resources.
Shipena also dispelled allegations levelled against him that he is on a coveted mission to diminish the role of the public education and corruption prevention directorate by redirecting its financial resources and functions elsewhere.
His reaction follows allegations by some ACC staff that feels the training, symposiums and workshops were conducted to educate the public. He said ACC employees should migrate from the old-style workshops, seminars, familiarisation visits, and monitoring visits and that they should instead embrace the existing communication technology. 

Shipena noted that social media outreach is instant and unlimited and can be targeted at different levels. 
“Radio reaches all corners of the land of the brave. There is no reason to attempt to criss-cross the country to convey messages.”
The directorate received N$297 000 as a total budget for this financial year, of which N$50 000 goes to the travel and subsistence allowances, N$237 000 is for printing and advertisements and a mere N$10 000 goes for training courses, symposium, and workshops.
In total, the ACC was allocated N$61 million in the current financial year. 

Shipena reacted the allegations appear to be a response to the initiative to restructure and have a public education component at ACC that embraces modern technology by transmitting corruption education information to a large audience at a minimal cost as opposed to the old-style, expensive and ineffective workshops, seminars and familiarisation visits. 
He believes the envisaged techno-savvy education component would utilise modern technology and enhance strategic collaboration with media houses. 

Staff members who complained say such a move contradicts ACC’s mandate and deprives the public of its constitutional rights to understand the effects and dangers of corruption. Shipena said the proposed structure envisages a highly-skilled corruption prevention unit, staffed with professionals that would be able to detect systemic corruption vulnerabilities and discover corrupt practices in State institutions.
“The allegation is false. This allegation appears to be an unprofessional response to an organisational restructuring proposal that has recently been shared with the ACC directorate heads. Such staff members should also be in a position to propose as well as assist with the development of systems and procedures strong enough to deter and eventually eliminate loopholes for corrupt deeds. As an example of the skills required, one has to be skilled in the supply management field to be able to advise on procurement systems and procedures and the same applies to fields such as fintech, IT, the built environment, natural resources allocation, and management,” Shipena said.
Currently, he said, the education and corruption prevention directorate is staffed with personnel- the majority of whom have teaching as previous experience.  

“The restructuring proposal is an attempt to make the corruption prevention unit relevant to the enormous task at hand,” he noted. 
Shipena said one has to have exposure to the systems involved in the allocation and management of rights to natural resources to be able to discover corruption vulnerabilities in the system.  He says a collaborative approach at strategic levels with State institutions is a mechanism to discover corruption vulnerabilities and address them. 

Shipena said there are no plans to cut staff numbers. “There is a draft organisational plan that has been discussed with the directorate heads. An executive director in government cannot cut staff numbers. Staff members at the ACC are part of the public service,” he assured. 
Further, he said ACC’s budget is low and urged staff to work with the little the directorate received concerning public education.
“We often forget that staff salaries are a significant component of programme expenditure. Basic corruption education programmes can still be developed and communicated by the staff members during the eight hours that they are at work. More funds are required and the office will continue to canvas for more financial resources,” he maintained. 

2020-06-23  Albertina Nakale

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