OSHAKATI - Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Director General Paulus Noa said when corruption is fought from the top, all stakeholders tend to follow suit.
While giving his presentation during the commemoration of Africa Anti-corruption Day, held at the University of Namibia’s Oshakati campus last week, Noa said there must be a high standard of professional ethics promoted and maintained from the top political leadership, which cascades to all levels of authority.
He spoke just three days after the ACC had arguably its biggest breakthrough – by having education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa convicted of corruption.
ACC investigated the matter that led to the minister being formally charged and eventually convicted. She resigned from her post last week.
Noa – who did not comment on the Hanse-Himarwa conviction - maintained that the fight against corruption is a matter of political commitment, without which all other anti-corruption programs may not achieve the desired goals.
“The electorate has the responsibility to hold political leadership to account for actions against corruption, same way political leadership is held accountable for other service delivery,” he said.
“Public institutions have the responsibilities towards the public in terms of their mandate and should carry out their mandate without fear or favour,” he added.
Noa maintained that institutions in place can only function effectively if governments inculcate zero-tolerance for mismanagement of public resources, reinforce the culture of transparency and accountability in the entire public administrative sphere.
He said while leaders and government officials have the responsibility to ensure that government resources are not mismanaged, voters must put to task public officials and hold them accountable as they elected into public offices on the strength of promises set out in political party campaign documents, and such manifestos carry strong promises.
“The concern is that leadership of political parties let down the electorate when the public complains about non-performance or involvement in alleged corrupt conducts by elected public officials, yet political party leadership, at times, takes no action against the elected or appointed public officials to demonstrate commitment to the promises made in the manifestos,” said Noa.
President Hage Geingob last week said he was already planning to fire Hanse-Himarwa had she not voluntarily resigned.
According to ACC director, several cases where millions of dollars are lost due to corruption or mismanagement or negligence by responsible public officials have been reported, while cases of over-expenditure do not necessarily result in criminal prosecution.
In such instance, said Noa, the employer or appointing authorities must summon the responsible public official and take appropriate take actions.
However, Job Amupanda of AR said, it is actually within the ACC mandate to investigate vigorously “all instances of alleged or suspected corruption and the misappropriation” of public properties by officials and to take appropriate steps – even if the appointing authorities fail to take actions against perpetrators of corruption.
Amupanda further agued that the existence of both ACC and the office of the Ombudsman is a waste of national resources as the two institutions have overlapping functions, which makes the existence of both unnecessary.
“None of these sections places any of these institutions at an advantage over the other with regard to investigation of corruption. Namibia continues to waste scare resources in this manner. This duplicity is concerning and must be addressed,” said Amupanda.
Vipuakuje Muharukua, an MP for the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), in his presentation said corruption in Namibia will be only rooted out if the current administration, which is headed by elderly politicians, is phased out.
“They all need to go. For Namibia to prosper, another political party must take over, all the current leaders of Swapo must go. Harambee Prosperity Plan will not lead you to prosperity,” said Muharukua.
Bishop Shekutaamba VV Nambala who was one of the presenters of the day said in order for true justice, peace and stability to prevail, “Namibians have to remember that God-given resources are not meant for the few, but for all”.
Among other weapons against corruption, Nambala suggested that land in Namibia should not be privately owned, as it would never be justly distributed if it is sold to individuals as a private property.
“Once land is declared state land, only those who have good proposals how to use it will be considered to get land for development. What will privately belong to such developers will not be the ground itself but what they have erected on it,” he said.