We must close these small holes

Most people think it is a small hole and that every time something seeps through there is no effect. Every hole that leaks is dangerous because the longer it is left to leak, the bigger the loss.

This is not about romance but corruption that has stolen many of our people’s heart and turned them into heartless human beings who have no shame and remorse.

As it is, the government does not consider corruption as a hole that has been leaking this country’s wealth for years. Maybe this is why nobody is talking about this seemingly small hole that has been left to siphon away resources that could have been channeled towards helping the neediest. Corruption Watch, a South African watchdog that monitors corruption in that country says whatever the many dimension of corruption are, the bottom line is that the poor who depend on the government are hardest hit.

In the end, the watchdog says all of us will be affected because corruption will eventually eat into sustainable development, ethical values and justice. “It destabilizes our society and endangers the rule of law.

It undermines the institutions and values of our democracy,” the watchdog says. In addition, the watchdog says, corruption delays infrastructure development; causes poor building quality and adds layers of additional costs to capital projects. Take for example the millions GIPF has lost over the years and ask yourself how far that money could have done for the poor people.

It was money meant for the orphans whose parents toiled years to accumulate in the hope that when it is disbursed, their children will be comfortable. While it is true that no orphan went hungry after those millions were stolen, it is also true that the money belonged to their parents. If that money had not been stolen, who knows maybe GIPF could have come up with projects that would have helped poor families? With the provision of housing GIPF has added to its portfolio, surely N$600 million was enough to provide housing for its members.

That did not happen because some few people who think they deserve better than the rest got their grubby hands on the money meant for the poor. Another recent example is the looting of the mass housing programme that could have made a huge difference had the money been put to good use. Today, most of the houses are standing empty, incomplete or in some cases vandalized.

These are houses that ate up millions if not billions. Although nobody talks about it, the mass housing programme is one of those massive projects that left Namibia in these economic mud. It would have been better if the programme was carried through and the poor who so much want roofs over their heads are today living safely. This did not happen and there is no sign that it will happen because that money is gone for good. The corrupt one who ran away with the money lived pretty for a while too.

There is, however, no sign that they are still living as pretty as they used to live then. In this case, just like what Corruption Watch says, corruption affects us all. The government is hanging, weighed down heavily by debt and the tenderpreneurs have lost their shine. Currently and elsewhere in this edition, we run a story about the bulk fuel tender that has cost the government and is a headache.

Those who twisted the tender process so that they can take home bags full of money do not seem to care while the government is fumbling to get the money to pay the Chinese contractor. The government will be forced by contractual agreements to honor the obligation of paying and by doing so; will have to forego other crucial issues that mostly affect the poor. This is the same with the airport tender which the government is currently appealing in the Supreme Court. Whether the government will win the case or lose it, fact is that the time spent fighting the case in the court and time that could have been used for other things is wasted.

There is also the money the private lawyers will be paid and this is not small money, which if it was not for corruption, would have been used for funding school activities. It then begs the question: Is enough being done to fight corruption? Well, the answer most unfortunately is no! When he addressed parliament for the last time, former president Hifikepunye Pohamba said it was discouraging that some cases of corruption report with the Anti-Corruption Commission were taking long and draining a lot of resourcing.

“Investigations go on for years and nothing comes up. It is discouraging and your president is not happy with that,” he said. Pohamba was not saying things from the nowhere because Namibia has cases where some chief executive officers have been on suspension for years yet pocketing salaries. Most importantly though, Pohamba was talking about how weak the corruption watchdog in the country is.

This maybe is why there have been claims that the ACC is only interested in small fish but cannot haul in the big ones. We need to do more in order to close these small holes because we have left them leak and drip for too long such that we no longer feel guilt. To do so, we must start with the ACC itself and clean it up to ensure that those who monitor and investigate corrupt activities are accountable for their actions.