ACC comes under fire in National Assembly

12 Nov 2015 15:30pm
WINDHOEK, 12 NOV (NAMPA) – Members of Parliament (MPs) on Wednesday noted with great concern the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC)’s role in disseminating information of corruption cases under investigation with the local media.
The MPs aired their grievances in the National Assembly that the ACC was only targeting people in decision-making positions.
They made their concerns known after Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila announced the reappointment of ACC’s Paulus Noa and Erna van der Merwe as Director General and Deputy Director respectively.
Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo commented on the ACC’s relationship with the media, saying there should be some way of regulating information shared with the media on cases being investigated.
She also questioned the procedures used by the ACC when someone approaches it with a complaint to investigate another party, noting that the accused party first ought to give their side of the story before such news is published in newspapers.
She noted that the ACC is “a government organisation and not an independent newspaper”.
“There should be a way that the people of the ACC should come to a ministry and say ‘We have these grievances from this person or institution, what do you have to say?’ By the time it goes to the newspapers it will have balanced views,” she said.
Ndjoze-Ojo appealed to the ACC’s DG and his deputy to ensure that media coverage is minimised, saying once suspects are exonerated, nobody goes back to the media to clear their names.
Attorney-General (AG) Sacky Shanghala suggested that powers of arrest should be taken away from the commission and given to the Namibian Police Force (NamPol).
“If you look at the number of investigations, constitutions and convictions of ACC, we can get another story because the numbers don’t lie. So, while we recommend and approve their reappointment, some things need to be done,” he said.
Shanghala further questioned whether the commission was only for two people, referring to the re-appointed director and his deputy, and wanted to know where the other commissioners are.
“Who checks the checker? Who checks when they (ACC) issue tenders for their building? I’m told that their building’s front is cracking but they are just quiet. That is why we say, don’t target us just because we are in the office. Come and ask us,” he said.
Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tjekero Tweya said it was time that the ACC was advised and reminded of the purpose that it was established for, and that all Namibians are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
He further stated that abuse of the media and punishing of citizens’ characters cannot be condoned.
Tweya noted that a suspect’s name should not be released until he or she appears in court.
“If two lawyers for that matter cannot even observe these basic legal principles, then we need to remind them of the purpose that this institution was established for,” he added.