Ending the era of impunity

07 June 2019 | Columns

Earlier this week Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, in her capacity as leader of the civil service, held her usual engagement with executive directors and other accounting officers in government offices and agencies. The premier used the platform to remind the senior government autocrats of their role in managing Namibia's tight purse strings, tackling public-service corruption and ensuring accountability and service delivery to the public. The accounting officers were also reminded that a third of government institutions received a qualified audit from the auditor-general for the 2016/17 financial year. It is public knowledge now that many of our government offices and agencies, including local and regional authorities, hardly receive clean audits from the auditor-general. The auditors have unearthed a number of inconsistencies in the financial dealings of many government ministries, agencies and offices in which millions have either been squandered or cannot be accounted for. Many other SOEs, municipalities and town councils are also battling to achieve clean audits year in and out. It is clear that these agencies lack accountability. Our concern is that despite the problem being well-documented, there appears to be no urgency in enforcing leadership accountability by instituting appropriate internal control measures to ensure proper financial and performance management. The situation has now clearly spiralled out of control and has been allowed to persist because there are no consequences for financial negligence. Perpetrators get away scot-free in most cases, while taxpayers have to bear the brunt of their ineptitude. It is the responsibility of the Office of the Prime Minister to see to it that there are consequences for mismanagement and non-performance. Accounting officers are at a level where they appreciate the wrongfulness of their acts and should be accountable for their actions. Nevertheless, actions speak louder than words and the era of impunity should now be over. It is really our sincere expectation and hope that the premier will now walk the talk, by taking the necessary steps against non-performing officials in government.

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