TSUMEB - The Chief Public Education Corruption Prevention Officer of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Paulus Lyambezi, has reiterated the need to expedite the implementation of the Whistleblowers Protection Act in order to protect people that report and give evidence on cases of corruption.
According to Lyambezi, the only leverage whistleblowers and witnesses currently have is anonymity which is easily affected by the leaking of confidential information. The Anti-Corruption Commission made a presentation yesterday in a consultative meeting with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs meant to ascertain challenges faced by the graft fighting body as part of the committee’s oversight function.
Lyambezi, who represented the acting director general of the ACC Paulus Noa, was reacting to concerns by members of parliament who noted that at times, both investigators and whistleblowers are put at risk due to lack of protection.
Contrary to a generally held perception, the ACC further revealed that it had the duty to initiate the investigation of cases. Many a time, cases of such a nature do not progress as is required due to a lack of witnesses.
“We are mandated to receive, initiate and investigate allegations of corrupt practices. The initiation of cases becomes difficult because of a lack of witnesses, that’s why much emphasis has been put on people to come and report cases. There are many ways of reporting allegations of corruption either through a toll free number, by writing, email, website or telephonically,” said Lyambezi. The Whistleblowers Protection Act 10 of 2017 was enacted in October 2017 and it has not been fully implemented due to lack of funding. It calls for the establishment of a whistleblowers protection office and criminalises retaliation against reporters or witnesses who give evidence on improper conduct and corruption. It imposes a fine of N$75 000 or a jail term not exceeding 15 years or both to anyone found guilty.
The ACC states that of the 61 cases targeted for investigation in the 2019/20 financial year, 25 were finalised while 36 were carried over to the next financial year, translating into a 41% success rate. Despite this success, however, there was still a backlog of 370 cases by the end of the same year. Lack of investigators, infrastructure and funding have been cited as some of the major impediments hampering the effectiveness of the ACC.
A National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan 2021/2025 that will ensure the effective implementation of relevant legislation, is currently being developed through nationwide regional consultative engagements.
Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, chaired by Kletus Karondo are in Oshikoto region to consult with different stakeholders falling under the ambit of the committee to properly understand the legal framework, operations and challenges facing these institutions in the execution of their mandates.
Other members forming part of the committee include Paula Kooper, Emelia Nuyoma Amupewa, Apius Auchab, Juliet Kavetuna, Elifas Dingara, Tjekero Tweya, Herlinde Tjiveze, Vincent Mareka, Modestus Amutse, Philipus Katamelo, Ignatius Shixwameni, Longinus Iipumbu and Joseph Kauandenge.