Tuesday 11 May 2021
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Condoning corruption

The punishment extended to government officials who were found guilty of negligently managing costs in the oil storage facility saga is a clear testimony that the war against corruption is more rhetoric than anything else.
Government can deny all it wants, but one of the primary reasons why the country is cash-strapped is because of the habitual tendency of inflating project costs in this country. This practice is not new to those running the country’s affairs because they have allowed it to persist non-stop.
If they claim not to have known of prices being inflated when the State has to procure goods and services than they ought to pack their bags and go to their farms because clearly they do not know what they are doing.
When the George Simataa-signed letter addressed to finance permanent secretary Ericah Shafudah surfaced last week I could not believe what I read in that letter, I ended up going to the bathroom to wash my face-in case I was dreaming.
“Your failure to attend technical committee meetings has enabled others to create an impression that government had in fact assumed the risk of currency fluctuations,” he said in the letter.
He went on to say: “Similar conduct in the future may result in formal disciplinary action being taken against you. The warning is valid for 12 months,” he stated.
If I were Shafudah I would take that punishment on any given day.
The cost of the fuel storage has escalated from N$3,8 billion in 2014 to N$5,5 billion in 2016.
If costing the country almost N$2 billion does not get you fired or have charges laid against you, than I do not know what is.
If George Simataa was a school principal, that school would be heinous for ill-discipline because the punishment would be so soft; learners would commit transgressions knowing that nothing will happen to them.
A number of President Hage Geingob’s speeches have revolved around tackling corruption-we applaud him for that-but his foot soldiers are clearly not in tandem with his war against corruption.
Typically, corruption is inversely related to income. The poorer the country, the higher the incidence of corruption. In this context, Transparency International’s corruption perception index shows that Namibia’s corruption ranking is better than its peer group in its per capita income. This should trigger a more nuanced conversation on corruption.
There has to be efforts aimed at reducing discretionary powers within government, especially ministers and permanent secretaries. Concurrently, transparency in government operations and service delivery must be enhanced.
In 2015, a panel of experts explored the close ties between insecurity and corruption and offered solutions at a special event at the World Bank, “Corruption in Fragile States: The Development Challenge.”
Bribes, fraud, cronyism, the misappropriation of natural resources, and other forms of corruption are core barriers to development and can even foment political violence, they said.
Corruption also poses big costs, and the World Bank says, about 10 to 30% of the value of publicly funded infrastructure is lost to corruption. One in seven transactions involves a bribe, according to a 2015 survey of businesses in 127 countries.
A United Nations Development Programme titled “Tackling Corruption, Transforming Lives” states that corruption has been seen as inevitable – unpleasant and unethical, but probably unavoidable.
One thing we ought to know is that everyone eventually loses with corruption, therefore now is the time to seize the moment, to combine pressure from above, in government as well as the private sector, with the voice of the people from below to root out corrupt officials and those approaching officials through dubious means.
Government’s war against corruption can simply not be taken seriously if people are given a slap on the wrist for mismanaging public funds while thousands continue to go to bed hungry without a decent roof over their heads.

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