Evidence led in the ongoing bail hearing of some of the Fishrot accused has lifted the lid on the grandiose thievery that played itself out for many years.
The scandal, which implicates former Cabinet ministers and their cronies, is arguably the largest bribery scheme to ever come to light in our country.
Thus far, bail-seeking former Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya has been buckling under cross-examination by prosecution to explain his dealings during his tenure as substantive accounting officer of the parastatal.
Nghipunya is facing 30 charges, including racketeering, contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, conspiracy, corruptly using an office to receive gratification, fraud, theft, and money laundering and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
His other co-accused stand accused of corruptly receiving payments to give a competitive advantage to Icelandic fishing company Samherji in securing access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia.
What is clear so far is that the scheme was well organised and not a single iota of transparency and good corporate governance in sight.
In almost every sense, the bribery scheme, which the State now believes involves a whopping N$317 million in public funds, was a well planned, carefully executed and very nearly a successful coup.
Firstly, Nghipunya, who was a mere economist in the fisheries ministry, admitted he was never interviewed for the position before he was permanently named CEO of Fishcor in December 2016.
He also pointed out during cross-examination he was allowed by the company’s board chairperson to do consultancy work for fishing companies that were doing business with Fishcor, earning himself millions of dollars in the process.
This is outlandish – to say the least.
Although prosecution has maintained it has a prima facie case against Nghipunya and co, the sacred principle of innocent until proven guilty, however, remains.
Even though the State believes the bribery scheme is probably the worst manifestation of corruption – at this stage, they remain accused persons – and it is up to the court to determine their innocence or guilt.
We will, therefore, allow the law to take its course.
Nevertheless, the moral of the story remains that we should never be silent spectators to corruption.
During Independence Day celebrations in 2006, former President Hifikepunye Pohamba struck the right note when he strongly declared: “Corruption is an enemy of the Namibian people: it is an enemy of the poor, it is an enemy of the sick, it is an enemy of the unemployed, it is an enemy of those who seek better education – above all, it is a threat to our democracy, peace, security and stability”.
There is no doubt graft in all forms has been holding us back as a nation. Corruption is endemic at all levels of society, which needs to be nipped in the bud.
Until when should citizens be subjected to untold suffering and hardship because of an appetite of greed by some unscrupulous individuals who defraud State-owned entities and run them as their personal fiefdom.
However, the entities involved have not been run only by the accused persons.
Many individuals and organisations have enabled, participated in and have benefitted from the corrupt activities alleged during these court proceedings.
They too must be held accountable.