6 February 2013

Namibia: Is the Ministry of Defence a Gravy Train?


RECENT shocking reports in the media about what appears to be systemic corruption by a cabal of senior Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials have got to it the ring of a gravy train on steroids.

We are referring to recent revelations of undeserving exemptions granted to MoD to purchase champagne glasses, gardening equipment, as well as the lottery of granting multi-year catering tenders. In all these instances, the reasons why exemptions were granted are highly suspect and as clear as mud. It would appear as if the Ministry of Finance officials, who approved these exemptions, either did not apply their minds or, worse still, may be complicit in these scheme.

Exemptions clearly can only be granted in cases of urgency or in security related procurements. Purchase of champagne glasses during Christmas or granting catering tenders to a select group of companies either owned by MoD officials, cronies and/or relatives do not meet these criteria. The budgets of the MoD and State Security have ballooned over recent years and without proper oversight and control those in charge may be manipulating and abusing the system for personal gain.

We need to stop this rot before it consumes us. For all we know, decay may already be deeply rooted in the establishment. Minister Angula must act swiftly on these reports and assure us that the procurement process at the MoD is above board and not a cesspool of sleaze and corruption. It is already a matter of public record that the recruitment process at the MoD has been described as one that is riddled with nepotism.

We believe the Anti-corruption Commission should also immediately open a file on these allegations of graft and move with deliberate speed to assure the public that the MoD's brief remains the security of the realm and not self-enrichment by means of graft and misappropriation. We implore the Prime Minister to ensure the speedy passing of the proposed new Procurement Act to curb these and similar abuses of the system.

As they say, a good policy or law is one which reduces or at best eliminates discretion. The proposed Procurement Act must pass this test in order to nail the colours of these miscreants to the mast.

• Tsudao Gurirab is the Congress of Democrats (CoD) secretary general.

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