Anti-corruption crusade needs real teeth

08 August 2019 | Opinion

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has been subjected to public scrutiny and criticism over the years, with many citizens still convinced that the country's anti-corruption crusade was targeting the small fish instead of gunning for the big fish who equally find themselves on the wrong end of the law. Even the recent corruption conviction of former education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa did little to change this long-held assertion by many. There is no doubt that faith in the ACC is a critical factor in shaping public opinion about how Namibia is doing in its efforts to combat the scourge of corruption, which has become more prevalent over the years. We have always maintained that political will is essential to fighting corruption and it is critical that a practical top-down government-led approach would make an impact. In our view, this high-level approach would include ensuring that the ACC has the necessary capacity and more teeth to tackle corruption tooth and nail. However, the underfunding of the ACC just further affirms that there appears to be a lack of political commitment to tackle graft, especially in the public service. There is already what appears to be a slack attitude coupled by lax prosecution of glaring instances of corruption considering that dockets are piling up at the Office of the Prosecutor-General. And then there is also the Office of the Ombudsman, which is equivalent to the Public Protector. The role of the ombudsman is to advocate for fair and effective administration, combat misappropriation or misuse of public resources, among many others. But this important office is consistently overlooked and this has rendered its inability to function efficiently and effectively discharge its duties. Ruthlessly implementing a zero tolerance stance against corruption at all levels would be hindered if the ACC and institutions such as the Office of the Ombudsman and the Criminal Investigations Directorate of the Namibian police are not adequately funded.