Commendable stunt Mr. President

May 26, 2015, 10:23am

Commendable stunt Mr. President

Perhaps as a country, it is good for once to be proud because we seem to have a good thing going on.
Against all odds President Hage Geingob pulled an unexpected surprise last week, declaring his assets and his wife’s although many thought that day would never come. It is essential to note that the first family is not obliged by law declare their assets.
This is perhaps a clear sign that the President has a well laid out plan to push his colleagues to do the right thing. There is certainly no way any other Minister or Parliamentarian can now hold back on declaring their assets too.
There is also no reason why the Permanent Secretaries should hold back because the road has already been paved. It is a clear sign that the President believes that there should not be a mixture of business and politics. It is also clear that the President wants all public office bearers to focus on their jobs as opposed to having one foot in civil service and the other in their own businesses. You are either a politician or a business man and never can you have the best of the both worlds.
What happened last week is not a familiar scenario in Africa and pretty much the world at large. African Presidents have never felt obliged to explain where they got their wealth or how they accumulated it because it is pretty much ill-gotten in most cases. What President Geingob did sets a precedence that other leaders of the continent can follow if the era of transparency and anti-corruption is to prevail.
It is inspiring to see that the President went further and challenged anyone who feels that he under-declared his assets to come forward and shame him. This is a clear sign that the President is not taking chances with his work.
It would be important that his colleagues in the cabinet do the same. There is nothing wrong with a public office bearer being worth millions of dollars as long as they are able to explain how they accumulated their wealth. However the challenge is when someone comes out clean and declares their worth but cannot substantiate where their money came from. President Geingob led by example and even revealed that he knows how it feels to sleep in the cold, something that most poor Namibians are all too familiar with.
It would therefore be imperative that those public office bearers who feel they have to get a certain 10% from every tender they issue out to understand that the end of the era of eating public money could soon be nigh.
We would like to see how those that in the past have built a sense of entitlement with public money will survive in an era where transparency has become the norm. In the same vein we have also seen that the President wants all ministers to give their work plans.
This was not the case previously and it would be comical to reappointed ministers to say they are going on a familiarization tour. One wonders how one familiarizes themselves with something they have had control over for the past five years.
Indeed, if all that the President is enticing us with is to be implemented we shall be a proud nation that stands up and says we did this and we did it well. All the others would then follow suit.