Sunday 16 May 2021
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Schlettwein: A saint among thugs?

There is a saying that goes: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”. This line by Edmund Burke best befits the traits portrayed by Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein which if most politicians and public office bearers should mimic, would improve day-to-day government operations.
Since taking charge as Head of State on 21 March 2015, President Hage Geingob has fallen prey to armchair critics, analysts and antagonists who use every given opportunity to criticise, maim and condemn the latter, justifiably and unjustifiably.

But it must be said without fear of contradiction and favour that Giengob’s decision to place Treasury in the hands of Schlettwein is by far the best decision during short stint as President. As the saying goes, “give credit where it is due”, thus Geingob should be applauded and be given endless support in this regard.
However, the precedent being set by Schlettwein in recent times as an indication that indeed, some hygiene is going on in government at the moment. Not so long ago, Schlettwein was at the forefront to have the Permanent Secretary at the works ministry Willem Goeiemann’s powers to handle state funds clipped.

Schlettwein’s stance is backed by the dubious role Goeiemann played in the signing off of the N$7billion airport contract which was declared unlawful by the Supreme Court this year. Currently, in what appears to be clear daylight robbery of State funds from an onlooker and layman’s viewpoint, Schlettwein stands firm that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) should investigate the millions paid to UK-based lawyers for the legal advice on the genocide reparations which appears to be overpriced and inflated.
Despite facing stern opposition from a fellow cabinet minister, the Attorney General and the ACC’s director general, Schlettwein is adamant that each cent of the over N$37 million paid to the foreign lawyers should be accounted for and that those implicated be brought to book. It is a fact that corruption in Namibia has robbed the populace in excess of N$1 billion in the well-document graft saga. The figure could be higher considering the fact that not all corrupt dealings saw the light of day as some well-connected individuals who today pride themselves as entrepreneurs, made their riches through dubious means.

To point out a few, one has to begin with the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) that can to this day not account for more than N$600 million.
In the GIPF case, again prominent Namibians and their cronies are to have benefited directly from more than N$600 million in loans. The persons who are said to have benefited are senior retired politicians, prominent business people, senior legal advisors and Cabinet ministers. The GIPF saga drags on for more than 10 year now, again, justice can only be done if the culprits are brought to book.

This year, over N$200 million disappeared from the vaults of SME Bank in thin air without a trace. History will also not be kind to us if we don’t mention the N$30 million invested by the Social Security Commission in Avid Investment Corporation about 17 years ago. More so, it was disturbing and disheartening to note the statements made by the First Lady of the Republic when she said Namibians do not “hate corruption because it is wrong. We hate it because we are not eating,” she was quoted by a local daily. It has become common to the eye that those in power (like the First Lady) and those closest to them are the ones ‘eating’.

This is to say, in most cases, those closest to the leadership benefit greatly from state contracts, tenders and connections.
As such, to fight corruption which is chief among the factors that which have brought our country to its knees, more Schlettwein-like men and women of the country are needed. We need leaders not to point out corruption simply because they are not part of the eating group, but to report and condemn graft which is stealing the future away from us while we stand aside and look.

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