When accountability gathers dust

16 July 2019 | Opinion

In August 2014, just months before the election that swept President Hage Geingob to power, commentators bemoaned the fact that outgoing head of state Hifikepunye Pohamba’s legacy would suffer a blow if he retired without releasing the reports dealing with commissions of inquiry instituted by his predecessor, Sam Nujoma.

It was reported at the time that Pohamba had inherited at least 14 such pending reports from Nujoma, which were said to be gathering dust at State House. Nujoma’s commissions investigated, among other things, the misuse of public resources at TransNamib, Air Namibia, the Social Security Commission, the now defunct Development Brigade Corporation, as well as the Roads Authority. An inquiry into the allocation and utilisation of fishing quotas, one into the cause of resistance in the then Caprivi Region and another into the appointment of certain senior public servants, were also commissioned. Pohamba’s presidential affairs minister Albert Kawana defended his boss in August 2014, saying he is under no legal obligation to release these reports. Fast-forward to 2019, and we are once again on the brink of a general election, and yet there seems to be no sign that these reports will ever see the light of day. President Hage Geingob, who has dubbed 2019 as “the year of accountability” has not given a whimper in this regard. Perhaps his accountability to the masses does not extend to reports that could potentially finger higher-ups in the shenanigans that Nujoma’s administration investigated.

For those following the state capture commission of inquiry in South Africa, yesterday was a huge milestone, as former president Jacob Zuma starting testifying. This is accountability of the highest order, as Zuma, who characteristically bobbed, weave and deflected, will have to defend himself against very serious allegations.

Yet in Namibia we seem to be lagging behind in terms of holding those with real power to account. This remains a slap in the face of those whose votes will be up for grabs later this year.

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