Is Noa’s Ark building enough barriers against corruption?
Last week, the country had a somewhat momentous occasion when the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) hosted an anti-graft conference with the aim of sensitising the country on the dangers of corruption.
It is indeed commendable to see that all available resources are being channelled to dealing with this cancer which has ravaged our system.
In fact, there is nothing more dangerous than a corrupt mind in society. That sort of mind is one that would see Namibians struggle to get basic services, including even acquiring identity documents or accessing medical facilities.
Namibia per se is not seen at that level where you have to oil someone’s hand to get things done, but efforts being made to make sure that we have a corruption-free society definitely need to be doubled. This is simply to make sure that we keep our society devoid of the cancer of corruption because it has detriments to our economy.
While the notion is to discuss the problem of corruption freely and find long-lasting solutions to it, one wonders whether the efforts being put in by the Paulus Noa-led anti-graft commission are enough to fight this scourge.
One vibrant youth leader last week posted on social network platform Facebook that the recent anti-corruption conference is comparable to a television talk show which has no significance in weeding out corruption, as some of the same people who attended the conference could be the masters of such traits.
Perhaps, his was a rather critical point, but it also creates debate on whether the country is doing enough to fight the problem of corruption in both the private and public sectors.
There is more to fighting corruption than to converge a few hundred intellectuals in one room and add a few politicians to the mix, and have them talk.
There is need for the ACC to improve their investigations in cases involving the untouchables of society, and make sure these are prosecuted.
The day the judiciary takes down a big name and puts such behind bars for a very long time because of being corrupt is the day all Namibians will believe that this anti-corruption rhetoric is the real deal.
Perhaps, the Government needs to make sure that the ACC is well- equipped to fight the challenge of corruption.
Captain Noa needs to wield his axe on those deemed to be corrupt with overwhelming evidence that will see them being thrown into prison. Currently, the biggest setback for the ACC has been that the prosecution rate is alarmingly low, and some cases have been sent back and forth by the Prosecutor-General for a lack of evidence.
We need a biting
system in fighting corruption, and the teeth of this system should be so sharp that the moment they sink into a culprit, then that person is gone.
There has also been the obvious criticism against Noa’s Ark that it relies a lot on the media and whistle-blowers to weed out some of these corrupt elements in society. Of course, the bone of contention has been how far a country can go to weed out corruption, based on a sharp media landscape.
The weakness to this is that there is the golden rule in media where every editor feels they have to protect their sources, and are not obliged to play heed to Noa’s calls for evidence as they are not on his payroll.
What the anti-graft commission has to do then is to come up with their own mechanism which smokes out all these people who are exposed in media channels without necessarily depending on the media for all the facts needed to execute a successful prosecution.
There is a recurrent question on whether the ACC is empowered enough to cater for the challenges associated with white-collar crimes. Do they have enough actuarial scientists in their ranks to be able to investigate complicated white-collar crimes, like the unpopular Government Institutions Pension Fund’s DCP saga?
Maybe the simple answer to this is that these are not skills readily available, and might also be the same challenges slowing Noa’s Ark from sailing at full speed.
One also wonders whether the ACC has done enough to make sure that every Namibian understands their existence and purpose for existing since their creation. It is important to have a society which understands the need for the existence of a commission like the ACC, as this will make these same Namibians feel the need to blow the whistle with better facts.
In this regard, the ACC needs to make every Namibian understand that it is everyone’s job to flash out corrupt elements from all strata of society.
If the society has an unclear understanding of corruption, chances are that everyone who is supposed to raise the red flag about corrupt activities will cast a blind eye on such misdeeds.
by Tiri Masawi