CIVIL society needs to engage in the fight against corruption, was the message from a meeting between Namibian civil society representatives and a delegation from the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption in Windhoek yesterday.
The AU delegation leader, Anne-Marie Mougemba from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said civil society should work in partnership with AU organs to ensure the implementation of the AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption at the national level.
"We see civil society as a key partner in fighting corruption," said Mougemba, adding that significant civil society involvement in anti-corruption would see "the birth of an Africa which is free of corruption".
She also pledged that the doors of the board would "always be open" to play a guiding role to African civil society organisations in the anti-corruption sphere.
Fellow AUABC member Florence Ziyambi said African governments were expected to raise awareness around the AU convention, likewise echoing that "civil society plays a critical role in holding governments to account in fighting corruption".
For his part, Pascal Bamouni from Burkina Faso said ordinary people also had a responsibility in confronting and tackling corruption.
"We have to make sure they speak out, and we have to enable people to come forward and speak about corruption when it happens," said Bamouni. "We need to strengthen mechanisms for the education of our populations."
The executive secretary of the AUABC, Charity Nchimunya, also encouraged Namibian civil society to play a meaningful role in combating corruption.
"We hope as civil society, you will continue playing your role," she added.
Speaking on behalf of civil society representatives at the meeting, Namibian Non-governmental Organisations Forum Trust (Nangof) chairperson Sandi Tjaronda said: "Namibian civil society should take up space to make inputs [on anti-corruption measures and mechanisms]."
He observed that civil society tries to assist government agencies in combating corruption where they could.
"We have to fight. We must fight, and we must fight together," Tjaronda stated.
Forum for the Future director Samson Ndeikwila said much of the corruption in contemporary Namibia had origins in the liberation era, and was the consequence of one-party dominance.
"The public service has become an easy way of illicit self-enrichment," Ndeikwila said, adding: "Corruption in Namibia is of a political nature. It only requires political will on the part of the ruling party and the government [to address it effectively]."
Executive director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, Graham Hopwood said the corruption situation in Namibia had become increasingly concerning over recent years.
"Corruption is not endemic in Namibia, but we are not doing enough to tackle corruption. There's a sense that things are getting worse", he continued.
The AUABC delegation's visit runs from 16 to 23 September, and apart from meeting Namibian civil society actors, they also had discussions with various government departments and agencies, including the Anti-Corruption Commission and private sector representatives.
The AUABC visit followed a self-assessment exercise in 2017 by the Namibian government on its progress on implementing the AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.