The Namibian (Windhoek)

7 December 2012

Namibia: Nation?s Dream for the Green Climate Fund Secretariat

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THE stakes are high with the establishment of the Green Climate Fund, and not only in terms of the issue that the Fund intends to address – climate change.

More important is the amount of money involved. There is the initial capitalisation of US$30 billion that should have been in the kitty already by 2012. And by 2020 they are talking about a staggering US$100 billion. Personally, I don’t think that many Namibians in the top echelons of our society are overly concerned about climate change. What they smell is the money. If the kind of stealing and corruption that goes on here is anything to go by, then many of us in this country love money. Yes, we all need money because we are no longer in the age of the barter system. But the love of money is different from needing it for survival. Loving money borders on greed.

So Namibia is in the race with a couple of other countries to host the Climate Fund Secretariat. The Namibian Cabinet is lobbying vigorously on that front. And we understand SADC is fully supporting Namibia’s bid. I don’t know what the criteria would be in choosing the seat for the Secretariat.

But to be fair I don’t think that we have the capacity to host the Secretariat for a number of reasons. First our governance system is weak. But more importantly we lack financial discipline because we don’t have strong and vibrant institutions. This is a country where everything not bolted to the floor is a candidate either for theft or simply corruption.

Since independence this country has lost millions in taxpayers’ money without any trace. Money just disappears likes bubbles in the air and the saddening thing is that no one is ever held responsible. Thus what we are dealing with here is political leadership that lacks political will to fight corruption unless the leadership is also involved in this, either directly or through proxies.

Added to this sad story is the lack of institutional capacity. The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) is for all practical purposes dead. Almost on a weekly basis we read about the ACC investing this or that case but with no result at the end of the day. The ACC came with the inauguration of a president who promised the nation zero tolerance on corruption. His response to corruption turned out to be zero. As for the prosecutor general, her response to issues of corruption is something that even those of us who have never been to a law school know – “one is innocent until proven guilty”. The judicial system has equally been found wanting when it comes to fighting financial crimes and fraud.

So most cases that have involved large amounts of money are either dormant or have gone cold. Name them. The 100 million that was ‘invested’ somewhere in Botswana by the ODC/NDC. But we are told that 37 million has been ‘rescued’ (recovered); from whom and how we don’t know. Then there is the 30 million from the SSC also gone with the wind. One of those implicated apparently shot himself in full view of the police. Others have moved on with their lives – one is now a Member of Parliament. How about the N$3 million from the Ministry of Defence meant to buy military equipment that never arrived? Here, to my knowledge, there was no investigation conducted to determine how such an amount got lost.

One of the most intriguing cases is 50 million that got ‘burnt’ in the DRC. Was this money given to Laurent Kabila or to the government of the DRC? If it was the former then perhaps there is nothing we can do, but if it was the latter, then this must be paid back. Only former President Sam Nujoma has the answer to this.

Recently we were whipped by the Global Fund for millions meant for health programmes that have not been accounted for to date.

But this is the land of the brave and the Namibian Cabinet now maintains that once the Secretariat is located here the benefits to the country would be immense. It says: “The country is expected to benefit immensely from consumption expenditure of staff members and through conferences and other events. The multiplier effects could be enormous both in terms of government revenue and other businesses worldwide,”

This sounds like World Bank/IMF-speak on their theory (if it was a theory all) of the ‘trickle-down effect’. Get a few rich first, then wealth will trickle down to the poor. But wealth never trickles down but goes upwards unless you have a government that is committed to distributive justice and believes in a decent society. Just ask yourself what happened to N$664 million from the GIPF. Then you hear of mines being opened every now and then. But one hardly sees the benefits. Many Namibians are getting poorer and poorer unless you have joined the ‘looting classes’.

So don’t expect miracles that the Secretariat will have any immense benefits to the ordinary Namibian as the Cabinet submission asserts. People are not oblivious to what is happening here.

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