Auditing state finances instils confidence
There might have been reason to be sceptical about the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) from inception as it could have become another agency hell-bent to hide the magnitude of corruption and mismanagement. Nonetheless, in the last two decades the OAG has done exceptionally well within the confines of its constitutional mandate and has surprised many by exposing the misuse of state resources.
It all started with Dr Fanuel Tjingaete who was appointed Auditor-General in 1993 and served until 2003. It was then the politicians who were sceptical of his damning auditing reports into ministries, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and local governments. Some of the reports were publicly released, while incriminating reports never saw the light of day, perhaps to protect some of the trusted cadres aligned to state power.
Then there was the appointment of Junias Kandjeke in 2003 that created a hullaballoo, but in the end he proved all wrong with his audit reports into state expenditure. The reports are not only readily available after being tabled in Parliament, they are being reported on by the media. They give the ordinary man in the street a glimpse of how state resources are applied at national and local government level in a situation where corruption is rightly perceived as being endemic.
The opening of the national audit house last week in Windhoek is perhaps a testimony of how the OAG could play a significant role to inculcate transparency in the way state resources are utilised and could be an indication that there is indeed room for improvement to ensure that embezzlement of state resources, meant to empower and lift the disadvantaged members of society out of abject poverty and create much-needed employment, will not pass unnoticed. Those who work hard should be rewarded sufficiently but not at the expense of service delivery and prudent usage of state resources and that’s where the OAG plays a vital role to guard against wanton corruption.
The audit reports should not only be taken seriously, but the OAG should be accorded unlimited power beyond the constitutional provision as a watchdog of state resources. The executive must also use the audit reports to take the culprits to task, force them to resign from public office and compel them to pay back what they have misappropriated.
Nghidipo Nangolo: Informante