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Zero data on corruption statistics in private sector

by Kelvin Chiringa

Information about corruption within Namibia’s private sector is outside the light of public access save for data detailing contributions towards the economy, researcher, Johan Coetzee has noted. 

Although the sector is currently experiencing insecurities with regards to the future of business in light of the economic depression, levels of government spending, ability to repay debts and cash flow situation, Coetzee also notes that corruption and mismanagement of public funds are major underlying challenges.

Says Coetzee, “Corruption occurs in all countries, big and small, rich and poor. However, it is in the developing world that the impact of corruption is most destructive.”

 “The reason why it is most destructive in developing countries is mainly because corruption impacts most severely on the vulnerable, i.e. the abject poor, uneducated and disabled in developing countries who cannot ‘afford’ corruption compared to people in developed countries with a much higher standard of living and who are much less vulnerable.”

He also notes that while Namibia has always been one of the top five least corrupt African countries, “however, a rating of mostly below 5 out of 10 since 2004, indicates we are mediocre, not good but not bad, just ‘hanging in there’.”

“The average rating over 18 years is 4.8 and for the last 10 years has been 4.6. This is an indication that Namibia is failing from an international perspective in terms of tackling corruption.”

“From analysing the long-term trend, it can be deduced that a there is tolerance of corruption in Namibia that has become part of the culture of engrained corruption that has also ‘infected’ law-enforcement agencies and the private sector,” he expounds.  

An increase in cases involving corruption as well as its scale in the public sector, according to the researcher has contributed to   the backlog in court cases and the erosion of private sector confidence in the judicial system.

“It is highly unlikely that the private sector will in the short to medium term have more trust in the judicial system. The level of a society’s trust in state systems is a proxy for measuring corruption. An increase in the level of mistrust is directly related to an expected increase in the level of corruption,” he submits citing De Klerk.  

Coetzee observes the private sector as being fraught with nepotism while the use of ‘contacts’ which puts a government official in conflicted interest is also prevalent. 

“Namibia is not even close to understanding that gifts and hospitality as ‘perverse incentives’ are morally wrong and unlawful. E.g. every estate agent gets a kickback from banks in Namibia for every transfer of property.”

“Despite the Estate Agents Board having a public legal opinion on forbidding kickbacks, such malpractice is still taking place in the interaction between estate agents, banks and conveyancers. When it comes to perverse incentives, the financial services industry is by far the big- gest culprit,” the researcher says citing De Klerk.