Windhoek — Government has hit back at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), saying the research body's recent briefing paper titled 'The role of the private sector in tackling corruption' contained gross prejudice, unbacked opinion and lack of empirical evidence.
Last week the media publicised the IPPR paper findings that there is little motivation for public sector reform, as Swapo enjoys a two-thirds majority in parliament and is secure because no opposition party is strong enough to topple it from power.
The paper also indicated that if the political and public office-bearers who are responsible for drafting,
approving and implementing legislation, policies, regulations and by-laws tolerate bribes, the private sector will most certainly offer bribes to increase their profits.
It also stated that politically connected and incompetent officials are a large proportion of government officialdom and other sectors of the economy, and that, therefore, reforms would have a severe negative impact on the ruling party.
"Public officials were thus tempted to take bribes partly because of the culture of ingrained corruption, a sense of entitlement, political connections and relatively low salaries to mention some factors," the paper said.
These findings did not go down well with the government, which prompted the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Stanley Simataa, to call a media briefing yesterday afternoon to defend the government on the findings of the IPPR paper.
Simataa said while the government applauds the credible research undertaken by IPPR over the years, it is sad to note that this particular briefing paper should not have been published at all given its gaping flaws both in terms of content and quality of empirical evidence advanced.
He gave a synopsis of the genesis of the government's efforts in fighting corruption, saying the government, at the highest level of head of state, has illustrated its resolve to fight and root out the scourge of corruption.
To deflect the IPPR's findings, Simataa said the Anti-Corruption Commission was established in 2006 to drive the nation's anti-corruption agenda, adding that Namibia is signatory to various regional and international conventions against corruption.
He explained that President Hage Geingob cemented the government's resolve to stop corruption dead in its tracks by intervening in the now infamous N$6 billion Hosea Kutako airport upgrading tender, lodging an investigation into the national oil storage facility, and the recent action taken by Geingob requesting some of his Cabinet ministers to respond to accusations levelled against them.
"I cited these to deflect the assertion that as government we condone corruption. Corruption is a global phenomenon which is not confined to Namibia alone," he reacted.
He said it was not long ago that the world was plunged into the worst ever global financial crisis, induced by greed, collusive and unscrupulous practices in the financial sector in the developed world, which had far-reaching ramifications on the world economy.
Therefore, he said, it's absurd to apportion the blame for endemic private sector corrupt practices on the government, although it's true that in terms of accountability the buck stops with the government.
He said the fight against corruption is an eternal collective national and global undertaking that demands the indulgence of every member of the Namibian society, the private sector included.
He warned Namibians not to be spectators, nor surrogate defenders of private sector corruption, while calling for unity of action to isolate and deal with all those involved in corrupt practices, regardless of their standing in society.
Further, he called on Namibians to give latitude to established institutions such as the ACC and the courts of law to decisively deal with reported incidences of corruption.
"As evidenced by the long-standing Avid case which is now drawing to a close, the due process of law grinds slowly, but it certainly grinds decisively. For us to make a dent on corruption we must re-invigorate our society's values that have seemingly degenerated over the years," he said.
Two weeks ago, the State demanded the conviction of all people standing before the High Court in the Avid corruption case involving N$30 million that went missing from the Social Security Commission (SSC) through dubious investments between December 2004 and August 2005.
Standing before the court have been former MP and deputy minister Paulus Kapia, Inez /Gases, who served as board chairperson of Avid, former Avid director and lawyer Otniel Podewiltz, and lawyer Sharon Blaauw and her husband Ralph, who is the former acting secretary general of the National Youth Council.
Other directors were retired Brigadier Mathias Shiweda and Nico Josea, a former Avid associate and investment broker.