THE devastating consequences of corruption were most visible in the Erongo Region after the staggering extent of the Fishrot Scandal became public knowledge.
The Director-Genneral of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Paulus Noa during the annual briefing on the state of corruption in the Erongo Region said in a speech read on his behalf by Lienette de Jager, Senior Public Education and Corruption Prevention Officer that corruption results in economic benefits being enjoyed by a few individuals at the expense of a wider society.
Noa could not attend the annual media briefing because he had to attend to the Fishrot corruption scandal accused persons’ various applications to be set free on bail in Windhoek.
Noa said that corruption by nature weakens the institutions of democracy, the trust in the rule of law is undermined, social development is hampered, and competition becomes unfair because some can afford to pay bribes, and worst of all corruption aggravates poverty.
“It is an evil that we as a nation should not accept and should not be willing to live with. ‘You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it’, Margaret Thatcher once said. This is most fitting to describe the battle against corruption, not only in our country but also those countries where corruption is much less,” Noa said.
He said human complexity brings about many challenges for the ACC to improve and speed up the progress in the eradication of corruption.
“Regionally, the attitude of people towards fighting corruption impacts tremendously on the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations. Tolerating corruption and not reporting it is only but one example of a careless attitude of Namibian citizens. One noticed with grave concern that the arrest of high profile citizens such as ministers is not really the deterrent for engaging in corruption as we would have wished it to be. One is many a time perplexed as to what would then serve as a deterrent for citizens, and officials not to engage in corruption,” he said.
According to Noa the ACC is still struggling with the reluctance of staff of Offices, Ministries and Agencies (OMAs) in the Government to assist the ACC specifically with supporting documents (document evidence trailing) when cases are indeed reported and being investigated. Private institutions display the same reluctance with regard to evidence.
He said the implementation of regulations contained in the Public Procurement Act went a long way to address corruption in procurement in OMAs, however many OMAs and local authorities in many instances do not adhere to these.
“This practice harms fair competition and also the survival of small to medium businesses; a sector which Namibia needs to empower in order for future economic growth,” he said.
According to Noa the perception of how corrupt a country’s private and public institutions are has a detrimental effect on development of that country. If a country is perceived to be corrupt world class businesses are not interested in investing in such a country. This translates into money not coming into the country, less jobs being created and a lack of transfer of skills from which a country such a Namibia could have benefitted hugely.
“Let us use our collective resources to fight corruption and all related crimes. Where corruption is rife, the unemployment rate will be high and the poor will suffer. All of us, the government, politicians, civil society organizations, private sector, media and individual members of society must make our contribution,” he said.
Noa gave the assurance that the ACC will never stop using all its resources to do what it was mandated to do.