‘Ghost’ defence attachés unmasked

In the DRC, over N$250 000 earmarked for the defence attaché was spent in 2019, while no actual official is deployed in that capacity at the Namibian embassy.

26 October 2021 | Ministries

STAFF REPORTER







WINDHOEK

The defence ministry finds itself in hot water after it was found that money meant for defence attachés was spent – despite no attaches being posted to some missions. This is one of the findings in the auditor-general’s latest audit report on the ministry.

Despite being one of the biggest beneficiaries of the national budget, the defence ministry is said to be among the least accountable public-funded institutions.

In the current financial year, for example, the ministry received N$5.4 billion from Treasury, the third biggest allocation after health and education.

SA, DRC embassies

Auditor-general Junias Kandjeke singled out Namibian missions in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo as the biggest culprits.

Defence attachés are members of armed forces who serve as representatives of their country’s defence establishment in foreign jurisdictions.

While Namibia has for years struggled to contain the ‘ghost teacher’ phenomenon in the education ministry, it seems ghost defence attaches are also cashing in.

In the DRC, over N$250 000 earmarked for the defence attaché was spent in 2019. This despite there being no attaché at the mission at the time.

According to Kandjeke, his office was not provided with documents indicating what the funds were spent on in the absence of an attaché.

Meanwhile, about 3 800 kilometres away in Pretoria, it was found that about N$16 000 was spent as ‘spouse allowance’ from the mission’s Trust Merchant South African bank account.

“No evidence was provided to substantiate the cost incurred as the defence attaché who was accredited to that mission’s term ended in February 2018. No proof was provided for any defence attaché being appointed during the period under review,” the audit report stated.

Government, especially the education ministry, has lost millions due to ghost workers over the years.

The situation was so dire a few years ago that the education ministry had to approach Treasury for financial assistance to conduct a nationwide payroll verification exercise.

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