23 April 2019

Namibia: Geingob Reaffirms Battle Against Poverty, Inequality and Corruption

Windhoek — President Hage Geingob in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) reaffirmed his administration's commitment in fighting against poverty, social inequality and corruption.

Addressing the nation here on Wednesday, the Commander-in- Chief of the Namibian Defence Force said bold steps have been taken to fight corruption.

The Head of State said in 2018, he issued letters to a number of Cabinet ministers following reports of maladministration and alleged corruption.

Geingob last year, New Era understand sought written explanations from minister Sacky Shanghala (Justice), Alpheus !Naruseb (Agriculture) and Obeth Kandjoze (National Planning), who were widely accused of corruption.

Geingob said this was done to provide fair opportunity for those concerned to give their side of the story. "Based on the responses, letters were referred to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for determination, whether further investigation was warranted," he said.

"In all instances and contrary to demands to "see the Big Fish caught", a due legal process must be followed and permitted to run its course," he stressed. Geingob says in line with the Third Wave leadership approach, where there are no arbitrary actions, he believes that credible processes, systems and institutions must be upheld.

"Confidential process of lifestyle audits, which started in 2017/18, to determine possible tax evasion, money laundering and illicit proceeds, was broadened during 2018," he said.

According to the Head of State, of the 26 cases handled, 19 have been completed and a total of 40 entities (individuals and companies) have been reviewed, to date.

He said of the N$49.8 million assessed to be due to the Receiver of Revenue, N$12.8 million has been recovered to date.

"According to the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), 7 813 reports were submitted during the period under review, of which 329 cases were referred to law enforcement agencies, for further action," he said. He said the value of these cases was N$9.2 billion, involving the top five offences of tax evasion, fraud, corruption, drug trafficking and illicit wildlife products. Furthermore, Geingob said the ACC investigated 701 cases in 2018, of which 156 have been referred to the Prosecutor General, with recommendation to prosecute. 49 of these have been finalised.

In addition, he said practical measures have been taken to enhance transparency and mitigate corruption, including the promulgation of the Public Procurement Act of 2016.

"Regulations and Guidelines to the Act were passed and relevant institutions operationalized," he said. Also, he said since commencement, the Central Procurement Board of Namibia has awarded 15 contracts to the value of N$1,74 billion and has issued 46 extensions of contracts and price variations, to the value of N$4,32 billion.

"Contrary to widespread perceptions that government is not doing enough to fight corruption, we took a principled decision to cancel the Hosea Kutako International Airport upgrading tender, which was inflated from N$3 billion to N$7 billion," he said, adding that this was despite the urgent need to upgrade the airport.

He continued that government also launched an investigation into alleged irregularities in the implementation of the National Oil Storage Facility at Walvis Bay.

The contract, he said was denominated in US Dollars instead of the Namibian Dollar thereby exposing the project to currency fluctuations.

"Those implicated were subjected to disciplinary hearings."

Namibia

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