It is quite interesting that political parties usually take a strong stance against corruption when presenting their manifestos to the electorate every five years when general elections come around. There is no doubt that corruption, in different forms and dimensions, has seriously infiltrated many spheres of our society.
It has impacted mainly the poor, and as former President Hifikepunye Pohamba boldly declared in March 2006, “corruption is an enemy of the sick, it is an enemy of the unemployed, it is an enemy of those who seek better education, and above all it is a threat against our democracy, peace, security and stability”.
The anti-corruption gospel is one that excites voters very much because our leaders too have admitted to this undeniably problematic phenomenon that should be nipped in the bud.
Following the so-called Fishrot Files, published in November last year by WikiLeaks, and which claimed the political careers of two Cabinet ministers, Namibians are growing increasingly frustrated with socio-economic challenges that have in some way been influenced by the greedy and corrupt tendencies of officials. Needless to say, corruption has severely eroded the credibility of many officials, including politicians, in our country.
While the Fishrot scandal has shone the spotlight on deeply rooted graft, it has also brought to the fore the question whether financial contributions to electoral campaigns constitute an element or method of bribery.
Although the Swapo leadership early this week roundly denied ever having benefited from the Fishrot scandal, many of its political rivals have come out swinging and pleading with those implicated to come clean. The Fishrot matter is currently before the courts and it would be interesting to see how it pans out in the long run.
Obviously such matters should be put to law enforcement agencies that could deal with such allegations properly. However, be that as it may, what is clearly amiss here is the fact that political parties, which in any democratic dispensation are expected to fulfill several functions central to the performance of the state, are struggling to hold their members accountable at party level.
Several accusations of corruption are flying thick and fast against many political formations, including the kickback claims implicating opposition leaders linked to the City of Windhoek 5G deal.
The disturbingly laissez-faire attitude adopted by politicians when it comes to dealing with corruption is sadly holding back our development agenda as a nation. It is therefore important that political leaders not be complacent and susceptible to corruption and be tempted to abuse of office.
There is no doubt that the issue of corruption will dominate the discourse ahead of the regional council and local authority elections later this year. It has become a focal point for voters and it is thus important that political establishments take the concerns of the electorate very seriously by committing to root out the scourge of corruption, including taking the necessary remedial action. All political parties should take the lead, and be exemplary because charity begins at home.