International anti-corruption day on the cards … does Namibia have anything to celebrate?

The United Nations international anti-corruption day has been set for this weekend, and experts have mixed feelings on whether Namibia will have anything much to celebrate as the country continue to struggle with graft. 

Speaking exclusively to The Villager this week, veteran journalist, Gwen Lister, said it was still disconcerting that the media was playing a major role more than the Anti-Corruption Commission in unearthing corruption scandals. 

“It is disconcerting and we need a media that is not affiliated to government including huge corporate entities,” she said. 

She said access to information has to be prioritised so the media can more effectively investigate and expose corruption cases.

“It’s a problem for the entire country, if journalists can not get the right information then their stories are unbalanced and problematic and the public and government are very quick to point fingers that our journalists are not doing a good job. Corruption is really felt primarily by the poor,” said Lister. 

The ACC has come under fire for acting like the proverbial “toothless barking dog” and political and civil rights activists have time and again called for the corruption busting body to do more in making Namibia a difficult place for corrupt individuals.

‎Director at the Office of the Ombudsman, Eileen Rakow, however, said Namibia’s situation now is better than that of years ago and that some semblance of progress have been made in the war against corruption. 

“I think from where we were 20 years ago it’s a little bit better, there is definitely progress. I think what is to be applauded are the views of the public because they have really become aware of corruption and what it is. How we respond to that? Perhaps not always too good but this is an indicator that people do realise what is corruption and that something needs to be done,” she said. 

She has called for a broader access to information and accountability and overall good governance on the part of entities and individuals. 

Director for Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Graham Hopwood says the ACC needs to be capacitated but the fact that Namibia has adopted some legislation bent on closing the taps over corruption is a positive sign. 

However, he has advised against complacency implying that the battle has to be fought to the bitterest end.  

“We have made some progress like the whistleblower protection bill so things are moving in the right direction a little bit slowly. At the same time, we can not be complacent because definitely corruption is a big issue in Namibia. We might be better than other countries but we can not pretend as if we do not have some issues with corruption."

“Recently they called for more resources to strengthen their investigating capacity so I think they have a chance. There are higher expectations to tackle corruption,” he said. 

Attempts to reach the ACC boss, Paulus Noa were fruitless as his phone went unanswered.