Namibia Should Step Up Anti-Corruption Reforms

Government of Namibia
President Hage G. Geingob (file photo).
11 December 2019

Windhoek — A group of young demonstrators on Monday demanded that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Act, as amended, should be submitted to parliament to enable the anti-graft agency to be fully operational.

The reforms include among others, criminalising conflict of interest, introducing term limits for ACC director-general, tackling political interference in investigations and empowering investigators. The group that marched from Zoo Park to the ACC head office handed over a petition comprising of numerous demands on unsolved corruption cases in the country involving millions of dollars.

The march coincided with the International Day of Anti-Corruption, which is observed globally on 9 December.

The demonstrators highlighted pending cases such as the GIPF N$660 million saga, the alleged N$36 million paid to UK-based lawyers involved in the genocide matter, the N$5.5 billion Walvis Bay fuel storage facility, Kora, SME Bank closure as well as the unfolding 'Fishrot' scandal.

"In the case of Namibia and the Fishrot case, it has adversely affected the community of Walvis Bay, about 25 men died as a ripple effect of this act.

Homes were wrecked and young people were forced into early adulthood to cater for their families to thrive. This informs our basis on the said statement that our level of corruption has become an act of terror," youthful activist Dimbulukeni Nauyoma remarked while reading the petition, which was submitted to ACC director-general Paulus Noa.

The ACC has particularly been accused of only taking on cases involving the small fish and not investigations around cases involving mostly the well connected. Nauyoma said for any constitutional institution to fully operate and fulfil its constitutional mandate, it needs to sharpen its legal powers in ensuring that it does a good job.

"We have it on good record that the amendment to the Act has been sitting on your table for the past four years now and making the work of the Anti-Corruption Commission tedious. These reforms will see the ACC execute its mandate fully and will see some of your friends behind bars," Nauyoma told Noa.

The group claims that they are aware that these reforms include an oversight body that would keep ACC's office in check. The youth demanded that the amended Act be submitted to parliament to enable the ACC to fully be operational.

"We welcome your suggestion that you will not consider another term and we strongly advise that you don't. We need people that are willing to perform their duties uncompromised and to the best of their abilities in cleaning Namibia," Nauyoma reminded Noa.

The group threatened that failure from Noa to present them with a comprehensive report; they will camp at ACC premises, until he is removed from office. In response, Noa who received the petition, said he is in agreement that corruption needs to be fought head-on by all.

"Let me thank you for this enriching document. It contains information that needs to be adhered to. Corruption takes different dynamics and you will need other institution to tackle things and not only ACC," Noa said.

Noa distanced the ACC from the missing GIPF millions, saying it is a matter in the hands of the Namibian police. He said the GIPF case occurred prior to the enactment and operationalisation of ACC. "It has always been a case investigated by the police. The police investigated and presented the evidence to the prosecutor-general." He said he is ready to sit with the leaders of those demonstrating to share information, as he has nothing to hide under his desk.

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