By: Justicia Shipena
The newly launched Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF)’s Ethics Helpdesk and Website launch will be a tool availed to the public, stakeholders as well as employees to blow the whistle on fraudulent activities.
The helpdesk was launched on 6 September, a few days after two of the Fund’s employees appeared in the Windhoek Magistrate court on a fraud charge involving N$17.8 million.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, GIPF’s chief executive officer David Nuyoma said GIPF pays over N$300 million to pensioners, orphans, and other legitimate dependents, and massive investment amounts are transacted.
Hence he said there is a need to be on guard and thwart any attempts by those who are tempted to satisfy their greed by dipping their hands in the cookie jar.
“GIPF shall make available toll-free hotline facilities to potential whistleblowers, to be able to make anonymous disclosures. The whistle-blowing platform is called Ethics Helpdesk,” he said.
He said the web-based application provides a platform for all employees, members, and third parties to report any illegal or unethical conduct they encounter related to GIPF in a safe, secure and anonymous manner.
“The Ethics Helpdesk offers the following options to blow the whistle, completing an online form; submitting a report via an anonymous WhatsApp line, submitting a report via an anonymous Telegram line, speaking to an artificial intelligence robot, or speaking to an agent,” said Nauyoma.
Nauyoma also assured the pensioner administrator’s staff and the public that the helpdesk is managed by an independent service provider that offers secure and anonymous reporting.
“No telephone/mobile number or email address is required. The service is separate from GIPF’s IS environment and does not track IP addresses or other data that could identify a whistle-blower.”
Moreover, he said the structure or person, to whom the complaint is reported by the whistle-blower, should respond to the whistle-blower in writing within ten days.
“Thereafter, periodic feedback, at intervals not exceeding 45 days, shall be provided to the whistle-blower,” he said.
He added that if the whistleblower submits a report via the online platform, they will be provided with a unique reference number, explaining that this number can be used to receive periodic updates on the progress of the report and submit new information.
At the same event, the chairperson of the GIPF board of trustees Nillian Mulemi, the team would support and follow through with any whistleblower reports made at the board level.
“This is particularly significant when the Fund is currently investigating an unfortunate incident of breach of our internal financial controls by some of our staff members entrusted with managing our electronic payment system. Without this platform, we resort to all other options such as approaching newspapers, corridor talk, and social media to voice wrongdoings and any irregular activities carried out against the Fund,” said Mulemi.
Meanwhile, justice minister Yvonne Dausab said setting up a whistleblower line or platform is a critical step in creating a supportive environment toward fostering a strong ethical culture.
Dausab stated that Dausab said the launch of the platform should not be a mere public relations exercise to enhance the GIPF brand. Rather,
“I implore the Board and management of GIPF to render the necessary support, in whatever manner or form, to ensure that there is adequate support for the follow-through on reports, ensuring that perpetrators of irregular conduct are brought to book and that the whistleblowers are not victimised.”