Friday 14 May 2021
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No one will fall in SME Bank Saga

Debacles such as that of the SME Bank are not new to, and so is the fact that no one will be held accountable for sinking the bank which is yet to reach half-a-decade.
It is a common trend in Namibia that scandals will come and go, because as soon as the next scandal rocks up all of us will turn our attention to the next one.
We hear a lot about government taking a no nonsense approach when it comes to rooting out corruption, but when the actual time to act presents itself, that rhetoric is hardly translated into action.
The ongoing SME Bank saga is a perfect reference point. So many rules have been flouted while regulators and stakeholders alike looked on and now that things have reached crisis point we want to act.
Often in Namibia, those mandated to take care of State resources can see a storm brewing, but instead of preparing for the day when the storm actually arrives, they sit back with their arms crossed and only act at the last minute when it is almost too late.
The SME Bank was a great concept to help small businesses that have little or no access to financing because of a lack of collateral. The plan to establish a Section 21 company showed that government for once concentrated on helping struggling SME’s instead of pursuing profits.
But out of the blue, things changed and a decision was taken to turn the company into a fully-fledged commercial bank.
Namibians continue to blame our Zimbabwean counterparts for taking our kindness for granted when they fleeced the bank at will, but one begs to ask, where were our people to stop the looting?
It just shows that our monitoring systems are not well-oiled, but on a bigger scale, one cannot ignore that Namibians must have been involved in the entire looting scheme which saw over N$200 million being shipped out of the country.
Mismanagement of funds has been a great drawback for Namibia’s growth over the years but we seem not to care.
Addressing the wastage of resources has never really gotten the attention it deserves until now that the economy has hit rock bottom.
We continue to live life kings and queens in a country that is mainly made up of starving people.
Our weak public procurement system did little to help the situation.
Contractors get jobs which they get paid for even if they do not finish the jobs and they hop onto the next one.
Who are we as a country? What does our most “trusted” institution’s stand for? and Who are the biggest losers in all of this? These were the questions I try to answer to myself and still can’t. Especially after the surfacing of the SME Bank debacle.
The question is hard and in all our faces: Who can we trust? Every day we are bombarded with news regarding scandals at public institutions and the rot being displayed, and we as Namibians need to answer to the future generations if things degenerate as to how we allowed the country to go to the dogs.
These are bad spiralling effects for all of us. But the biggest losers are the poor, the unemployed, and the street child trying to make a living.
Yes, the solution to all of these issues and risks mentioned are strong leadership and a populace that is ready to hold the leadership accountable. This is a huge cruise ship which needs to be turned around. How does one do this? None of us can sit back and think we are passengers on this ship, no we are the crew to make this ship great and to sail the unchartered seas.
Corporate Governance must be a priority in 2017 and going forward.

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