Who is watching the watchers or keeping the keepers?

09 January 2018 | Opinion

The president has recently made it very clear, a couple of times now, that there will have to come an end to corruption and non-performance by people employed by the state. It has certainly grabbed the headlines, but we have been here before, quite a few times.

So at the start of 2018, the ‘year of reckoning’, a few critical, probing questions seem in order: Who is going to assist the president and enforce this ‘reckoning’? Who is the watchdog that will oversee this process?

What is the role of the Ombudsman in all of this? What has his office been doing the last few years when corruption in government was rampant and out of control? Who do they report to and who holds them accountable? Flying all over the globe and serving on panels for ‘ombudspersons’ around the world are surely achievements to be proud of, but how does this benefit our people who have no running water, sanitation, medicines or no food to eat because all the money that was supposed to help them, was stolen by corrupt government officials and their cronies? Aren’t there more pressing concerns that need attention closer to home?

Is it up to the finance minister of a country to fight and try to put an end to corrupt practices?

There was a time, not too long ago when even the sight of a vehicle from the Office of the Ombudsman driving around, put the fear of God into misbehaving government officials. What has happened, what has changed?

There is certainly a need for a strong, independent, accountable office, good at convicting and putting people in jail for offences against the people of Namibia. The ACC seems to be compromised, it looks like the Office of the Ombudsman is as well.

So, if an office aligned to the justice ministry, the highest power in the land, cannot do it, who or what can? Who is going to implement, oversee and enforce these new sweeping changes that are on the cards? Or will it just be more of the same old, same old story. Stern talking, posturing, finger-pointing, but sadly no action, no change and no relief for those at the sharp end of the spectrum of suffering?

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