The international fishing kickback scandal implicating two former ministers has set tongues wagging this week, and rightly so. The Namibian newspaper, which broke the news on Wednesday, reported that an Icelandic fishing company, Samherji, secured access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia by paying bribes of around N$150 million to politicians and businessmen between 2012 and 2018.
According to Wikileaks, former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau, justice minister Sacky Shanghala, Investec Asset Management Namibia CEO James Hatuikulipi and Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi, who is also a son-in-law to Esau, are all implicated in the kickback scheme. The two ministers were immediately forced to resign after the hard-hitting media reports linked them to the bribery scheme, which reportedly generated millions.
This exposé surely opened a Pandora’s box of corruption, especially when it comes to the issuance of fishing rights, which has been a bone of contention for many years now. It must be said that the scourge of corruption has a massive impact on the Namibian economy as well as the effectiveness of current efforts to deal with it. Along with other social ills, including joblessness, crime, alcohol and drug abuse, corruption remains an issue in our society.
Over the last few years, we have seen a number of corruption cases ending up in courts and the culprits being prosecuted. However, there are perceptions about the big fish getting off scot-free - an assertion often denied by the anti-graft agency.
Interestingly, the Anti-Corruption Commission boss Paulus Noa also somewhat lifted the lid on the ongoing saga involving the two former ministers and their associates within their inner circle.
According to Noa, the ACC and other anti-corruption prosecutors have been seized with the matter for years now and in his own words, “we have more than what is reported.”
Noa was further quoted as saying: “The attachment of their properties will be determined by evidence collected in terms of the POCA law (Prevention of Organised Crime). We cannot do things based on people’s emotions, as this will spoil a good case.”
The mere fact that agencies such as the ACC knew about this matter for a number of years and without acting decisively in the best of Namibian taxpayers and that of the nation, leaves a lot to be desired.
Those questioning the dilly-dallying on the part of the ACC and prosecutors should not be faulted, considering the inconsistencies being applied when it comes to the enforceability of laws of this nature. ACC should be assertive and show authority on all cases of corruption to reassure the public that there are no so-called big fish and small fish.
ACC should also desist from informing the public that certain cases are “complex” or ‘’complicated’ because this could be misconstrued as bias by the public. It is true that we must judge every case on its own merit, however, there must a strong willingness and the much-needed capacity to eradicate it without fear or favour in both the public and private sector. We must ensure that our anti-corruption policies are strengthened in ensuring there is genuine progress in nipping the ugly monster of corruption in the bud.
2019-11-15 08:43:56 | 2 months ago