Wednesday 21 April 2021
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Namibia’s corruption curse

Corruption in the country is one of the key factors contributing to brain drain in the country, says an expert.
Speaking at the Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab lecture series in Windhoek recently, Namibia University of Science and Technology’s Public Management Senior Lecturer Johan Coetzee cautioned that graft also causes the public to lose faith in government.
Coetzee, who spoke on the role of the private sector in tackling corruption, remarked that many of the SOEs tend to pass their inefficiencies onto their customers and lamented that “regulators in Namibia are created only after monopolies have been created.”
Namibia has a strong anti-corruption framework and has signed a raft of international treaties and conventions on preventing and combatting corruption. Despite this, Namibia is increasingly struggling to implement legislation on corruption. This is due to various factors, including a lack of capacity and political will.
He also lamented the absence of a leniency policy that would encourage people to report corruption.
Referring to fiduciary powers of directors, he said: “Good faith, care, skill and diligence is not enforced and liability is not enforced on directors.”
“For every corrupt deal in government there is a corrupt counterpart in the private sector, with bribes and kickbacks being the most common. Government seldom acts in high profile cases and that breeds a national value system that sustains corruption,” he said.
He also complained about the bureaucracy within government saying for every 12 Namibians, there is one public servant rendering the economy inefficient.
“The reason for corruption between the private sector and the state is because government lacks transparency and does not set the correct example; this includes late payments for work done, VAT paid late (refunds), incorrect information when requesting good standing certificates to accompany tender submissions,” he said.
According to Coetzee: “Large capital intensive projects create billion dollar opportunities for under-the-table deals and to shoehorn bids in place and to facilitate the successful allocation of bids.”
He also called for standardised specifications to reduce cost and corruption, adding that businessmen fear loss of business if reporting corruption, he further noted.
He added that the level of temptation can serve as a survival strategy for lowly paid public servants.
Coetzee also indicated the need for the Anti-Corruption Commission to become an autonomous body overseen by community oversight boards which would report monthly on progress.
He further said he remains unimpressed with Namfisa, saying the financial regulator does not come to the party to fight corruption.
He also called for a disciplinary committee for legal practitioners who loot trust funds.
Coetzee said donations of private and public institutions have the potential to create conflict of interest.
“Several SOEs have donated to the ruling party. How is it permissible? Permanent secretaries should monitor donations in cooperation with the Electoral Commission because donations could include hidden agendas to gain political favours.
Political parties must declare and disclose donations,” he underscored.
The academician also called on the private sector to “refrain from influencing politicians by bribing them for favours in tendering, hospitality, entertainment and any form of sweetener.”
Coetzee warned that what is of importance in all corruption cases is not whether factual correctness of reported perceptions is indeed the truth, but the perception that it exists in society.
“Where there is no evidence for the validation of perceptions, the problem is that, if such perceptions are not fully and without doubt cleared, it creates a culture in which people doubt integrity and morality of leaders,” he warned.
Minister of Information and Communication Technology Stanley Simataa in parliament this week said perceptions of corruption in the country “cannot be disregarded or accepted outrightly.”
Speaking at the same gathering, ACC director general Paulus Noa said he has become unpopular because of his job.
He also denied claims that ACC does not probe high ranking officials.
“The crude reality is that corruption is a monster that can seriously constrain development of national economies and prevent good governance.  Corruption erodes the moral fabric of society and damages the ethos of democratic governments,” he said.
In parliament this week, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the alleged institutional bias regarding ACC not probing high ranking official is devoid of truth.

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