Unshackling the toothless ACC

15 November 2019 | Opinion

Much has been said about the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) over the years. Many have called it toothless.

Revelations this week that it has been sitting on information implicating Namibian politicians and officials in allegedly receiving bribes worth N$150 million from an Icelandic fishing company left a bitter taste in the mouth.

Although the anti-graft body says it received such information incrementally, this leads to many questions.

Central to this is when exactly President Hage Geingob was briefed on the unfolding scandal, which has so far sunk two of his cabinet members.

Fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau and justice minister Sacky Shanghala resigned on Wednesday, and if sources are to be believed, more heads, perhaps higher up the food chain, may be on the chopping block.

This fishing-quotas-for-bribes saga goes to the heart of breaking trust with ordinary Namibians and comes at a time when we are about to head to the polls to elect a new government.

But back to the ACC.

There are two key issues. One is that the ACC director-general is appointed by the head of state, who is also the ruling party president - a situation that leaves a lot to be desired.

How can such a DG act without fear or favour when he may be scared to bite the hand that feeds him, so to speak?

Secondly, where there is a perception that certain investigations may compromise the ruling party or the president, whose interests are likely to be served?

The perception here is very clear, and the track record of the ACC in terms of massive fraud and other cases speaks for itself.

The solution is quite simple.

Let us unshackle the ACC DG from the president as the appointing authority. Such an appointment must be seen to be neutral and based on the fundamentals of merit and complete objectivity.

The same applies to the prosecutor-general post and ECN commissioners.

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