Anti-Corruption Commission of Namibia director general Paulus Noa believes corruption has been legalised in Namibia, making the work of the anti-graft agency difficult.
He said corruption can be legitimised when certain policies, laws or regulations are enacted with a corrupt motive of gratifying certain persons.
The director noted the issue of laws being changed and enacted to benefit individuals did not only occur in what is now known as Fishrot, but there have been other cases as well.
Noa gave an example of the National Youth Council (NYC), where it was reported the council’s board members claimed seating fees after convening meetings during official hours.
This was allegedly done at the same time they were regarded to be on duty at their full-time daily jobs.
“You see these kinds of things are legitimised corruption because that gratification is allowed by the law. If you try to investigate, you will be told to look at the policies. At the end of the day, our hands are tied, and we cannot go anywhere,” Noa explained last week during the commemoration of International Anti-Corruption Day.
Josef van der Westhuizen, deputy chairperson of the NYC board, agreed with Noa that it was wrong to legalise corruption.
“Corruption in this country has been institutionalised and it has become a norm. Even in government, there is a saying that ‘this is the way we do things here’,” claimed Van der Westhuizen. He said the reason why there is a decrease in the number of corruption cases being reported may be attributed to the youth’s lack of trust in the ACC.
He further said the ACC has become irrelevant in the eyes of the masses. Media ombudsman John Nakuta said there is a need to amend the current laws to effectively fight corruption.
“Our law has been made deliberately to loot. The appointment of the (ACC) director general is indeed a problem. We cannot have the president appoint such an important position. Namibia is the only country that has that provision” noted Nakuta. He said the director general has too many discretionary powers vested in him alone, which leaves room for a lot of things. The President is constitutionally empowered to nominate to the National Assembly the appointment of a director general and deputy director general of the ACC.
“The SDGs talk about building strong institutions and not strong individuals. So, what the ACC must do is to take the bull by its horn if they really want the people to support their fight against corruption. These weak laws must be amended, and the legislature should take up that initiative. But the media stands ready to be strategic allies and partner to ACC,” said Nakuta.