Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Director General, Paulus Noa, says the corruption watchdog is driven to satisfy public morality, despite continuous claims that it targets junior-ranking government officials while protecting the elite and their cronies.
Speaking at one of Affirmative Repositioning’s series of Critical Conscious Dialogues this week, Noa said he is driven to uproot corruption in Namibia without targeting certain members of society.
“I am here to serve the Namibia people, I am not here to arrest a Minister, and I am not here to satisfy the moral feeling of the society, fairness must always prevail,” said the anti-graft body’s boss.
Oftentimes, the ACC has been labelled a “toothless dog” that goes after perceived small cases, and to this claim Noa said there is nothing such as “small fish or big fish” in the fight against corruption.
“Let us not undermine corruption, it is not determined by the value of the money that is involved, today someone steals N$10, tomorrow the same person will steal N$1 million,” explained Noa.
According to Noa, there are deliberate efforts to discredit the work of the ACC.
However, the ACC boss assured the audience that there was never a case that was reported to the ACC that they did not investigate, irrespective of the parties involved.
“There is no case that was given to the ACC to investigate where we failed to investigate out of fear or favour of those involved,” he said.
In addition, one thing that the public is supposed to know before pointing fingers in the direction of the ACC is that it does “not prosecute” persons accused of corruption, he said.
According to Noa, prosecution is not done by the ACC, it is done by the Prosecutor General (PG), therefore what the commission basically does is to gather information and investigate.
After gathering evidence on alleged corruption claims, ACC conducts its investigations in order to have sufficient information before taking such a case to the PG, he explained, adding that if the Prosecutor General is satisfied with the evidence, a criminal case is then opened and individuals are prosecuted.
Who’s fooling who?
Speaking at the same event, activist and Affirmative Repositioning (AR) co-founder Job Amupanda said the youth have been asleep for a “long” time and it was now time to rise and lead the fight against corruption.
Amupanda said the youth should not be intimidated in their fight by those in positions of power, whom he said had a “five-year-tender”.
“How can you fear a person who tenders for five years, political parties and politicians all got a tender to govern the country?”
“Why are you traumatized by a person because he or she is a minister or a President, you must hold them accountable,” said Amupanda.
In accordance with AR’s understanding, elected officials are mere “tenderpreneurs”, who made a successful tender bid and won the elections.
In addition, Amupanda urged Namibian youth to take full ownership of the ACC and consolidate efforts in the fight against corruption.
Although they (AR) have no “confidence” in the fight against corruption, Amupanda said they will not give up on the body.
“We cannot give [up] on a constitutional office, I know we don’t have confidence in the fight against corruption, but we want to engage because there a certain things that we don’t understand,” noted Amupanda.
As a consequence, AR has decided to spearhead the Anti-Corruption Coalition initiative in order to combat the vice which continues unabated.
“We need to consolidate efforts and work with the Anti-Corruption Commission so that we can do our own things (investigations) because corruption is a cancer that can eat our society,” lamented Amupanda.
Role of the youth
According to Noa, the youth should not be taken for granted in the fight against corruption but called them to be “proactive” in their approach.
“Be proactive in your approach because what you are doing is legal, you have the legitimacy to demand transparency.
“I urge you, the youth of Namibia, to make your positive contribution in the spirit of nation-building. The future of Namibia lies in your hands, so you must be part of the process,” said Noa to the crowd of over 150 youth in attendance.
The ACC chief further added that every Namibian has a role to play in fighting corruption and that it was no longer just a problem of the public sector alone.
“The battle against corruption should no longer be just seen as the responsibility of the anti-corruption agencies, the police, the auditors – general and the judiciary. Building meaningful partnership with all sectors in fighting corruption yields benefits for the entire society,” noted Noa.
The ACC says through cooperation and collaborative efforts to fight corruption, democracy gets more “strengthened, plausible, representative and responsive”.
Noa further applauded AR for coming up with Critical Conscious Dialogues for the general public to be conscious of their rights and responsibilities.
“Youth can sensitize the public to confront corruption head-on,” he told the youth.
Moreover, due to the significant role the youth have to play in fighting corruption, ACC’s directorate of Public Education and Corruption Prevention has been organizing outreach programs for the school-going and out of school youth to sensitize them on the dangers and negative impact corruption has on the economy of the country.
“The Commission has also made recommendations in its annual reports, urging the authorities to seriously pay attention to the plights of the youth, particularly the high rate of unemployment among the youth,” said Noa.
At the same gathering, Noa confessed that the interest of Namibians, particularly the youth have always been at his “heart”.
“We have particularly pointed out the need for the youth to participate in the mining industries and benefit from all other sources of our economy.
“The youth are the backbone of the nation, they are the leaders of tomorrow and they need to be properly strengthened with skills and economically if they are to take Namibia’s development to the next level in the future,” he explained.
As the leaders of tomorrow, the youth should be part of the present means of fighting corruption and also participate in different structures of the economy.
Dangers of corruption
During his public address, Noa explained the dangers that arise as a direct result of corruption in the country.
According to Noa, corruption discourages foreign investment, increases cost of doing business, causes poor quality of service, exacerbates poverty and unemployment, and results in political instability, among many other things.