Namibia: Politicians in Business Is Problematic

President Hage Geingob.

Statements by President Hage Geingob and deputy agriculture and land reform minister Anna Shiweda this past week indicate that politicians want to continue enjoying the best of both worlds with impunity.

At the swearing-in of new ministers and deputy ministers last Friday, Geingob said he saw no wrong in politicians or public officials being allocated fishing rights and quotas, as they also have the right to own businesses in Namibia.

This week, Shiweda issued a statement in parliament, saying criticism of politicians, top government officials and their relatives for owning mining licences or fishing quotas is unfair and unconstitutional.

A perception has developed among Namibians that officials, especially those aligned to the ruling party, are no longer in politics or government to serve the nation, but to use their positions for self-enrichment.

Truth be told, most politicians should reflect on how their business interests may have contributed to the looting of state resources as happened in the Fishrot corruption scandal.

Close to half of parliamentarians - including the speaker of the National Assembly - own fishing companies.

Did that affect their judgement when former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau and then attorney general Sacky Shanghala pushed through amendments to the fisheries law which paved the way for that scandal?

Geingob and Shiweda's statements appear to point to the current administration only fighting corruption to show face as opposed to a serious approach to changing the self-enrichment culture.

Geingob himself has said public confidence in government leaders and public service is critical to the functioning of a healthy democratic state.

However, his current flawed outlook indicates Namibians should be worried that our leaders will not reform the rules to eliminate corruption from a system which benefits them.

The president's decision not to send a strong message about politicians who want to have their cake and eat it is downright scary and disappointing.

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