Take pity on the ACC
While I personally have no faith in the ACC’s ability to put the slightest dent in deep-rooted corruption in Namibia, I feel sorry for them; their job is unachievable.
I don’t believe that Mr. Noa is a puppet of government; I believe he is likely an honourable man in an untenable position.
The ACC has a task that was doomed from the start. Far too many expectations were raised when the agency was established. The ACC should have aggressively squashed those lofty assumptions and perhaps their reputation wouldn’t be so dubious now. It is always better to under-promise and over-deliver than the reverse.
My life’s experience has taught me that, ‘he who pays the piper, calls the tune.’
As long as the ACC has no independent funding source, they will forever be under the control of those who hold their purse strings. Consider this: there should be an increase of 1 percent in VAT or 10 cents more per litre at the fuel pumps that goes directly to the accounts of the ACC. They should be accountable for their funds to the ombudsman’s office and an outside auditor.
The ACC director and deputy should be non-Namibians hired via a foreign HR firm that presents the shortlist to State House. Indeed, the president should make the final selection of the chief and the deputy. The president is elected by direct vote, so it is somehow appropriate that the ACC be his albatross and he should be personally and politically responsible for its successes or failures. The corruption fighting agency should have a fund to assist those who present evidence that leads to convictions. Tips that pan out in the courts should pay-out a ‘bonus’ percentage of the amount of money recovered or involved in the case to those who testify and/or give accurate tangible evidence.
They should have developed a witness protection/whistle-blower regime and funds to relocate or hide people who testify or give evidence. All of this should be shouted from the rooftops regularly so everyone knows. A secure online portal where people can input their information or a secure text line where messages can be secretly received must be established and kept as a deep secret.
I just read a goofy statement from the ACC (accnamibia.org) that has a photo of a white guy with a red card blowing a whistle in the center of the page telling people to ‘Say No Way’ to corruption. I’ve seen stronger messages in graffiti on bathroom walls.
That document actually cites their Act and tells people to read it – seriously? They tell people to spread the word and support the media and report corruption (they even threaten the public by saying they are legally obligated to do so). That is the single most sophomoric, namby-pamby document I have ever seen.
Their aggressive spokesperson should have been on TV shows and in newspapers with stories about how they work. There should be mandatory workshops via NIPAM or each ministry where every single civil servant has a session with someone from the ACC.
They should travel the length and breadth of Namibia challenging people to speak up and paying out cash to those who do so. They should be repeating a single message outlining what they are responsible for in their mandate and what they are not.
They should have made themselves an annoying stone-in-the-shoe for all civil servants in a position to be tempted towards corruption. But, instead, the ACC has allowed others to write their narrative and that is always a fatal mistake.
I lost all faith in them when they humiliated the former CEO of NHE, Vinson Hailulu with a public arrest at the airport. Political pressure from a cabal of anti-Hailulu power people motivated this reckless action. Regardless of what people assume he did or didn’t do, I believe that the ACC didn’t need to do brotha’ Hailulu like that. This is Namibia, Hailulu is not Kobe Alexander ready to evade a subpoena by hanging out for years in LA, rubbing shoulders with Jay Z and Beyoncé; get real; he wasn’t going anywhere else, but his house. That arrest in front of the cameras at the airport was pure theatre and it showed me that the ACC could be pimped out.
Constantly, the SMS and editorial pages in newspapers are full of people complaining about the ACC taking on ‘small fish’ while not going after the big, powerful, politically connected whales. And I agree.
But, here is the scenario I suspect happens if ACC ever sets its sights on someone with ‘teeth.’ As soon as a probe begins, that person is ‘informed’ behind the ACC’s back and all possible evidence or paper trails are destroyed or buried tout de suite.
Next, that power person’s designated attack dogs get busy. Anyone owing that person a ‘favour’ is reminded of that. Leaks happen about things someone ELSE may be doing wrong in completely another arena and are sent to the ACC to divert attention. Then, attacks on the credibility of the ACC hit the internet, gossip routes and the newspapers.
Parliamentary back-benchers stand up and make statements about how unfair the ACC is. If budget time is near, then the screws are turned there too. Finally, the stone wall of silence comes down – everyone shuts up. And, the whale swims away, laughing. This happens everywhere when power people are threatened; it’s not unique to Namibia.
People in power circles know very well who among them is doin’ the nasty. They know who has secret shares in businesses; they know who is grossly misusing GRN funds and equipment. But, the power community is tight. They look at trouble pursuing someone in a similar high position as themselves and say: “there but for the grace of God, go I” and they walk away hoping no one will ask them anything.
Corruption won’t end until the masses of the people back-up one another, link arms and consistently (day-after-day, non-stop) operate as a focused unit to expose (with evidence) wrong-doers. But as long as people sit back and wait for an ACC or someone else to ‘stop corruption’, nothing substantial will happen.
Far too many of the largest complainers about corruption have benefitted from corruption on some level.
The anti-corruption whingers have their sons, cousins, brothers, fathers or hommies who got a civil service job because he ‘knows’ someone on the inside. The others competing for that same post had their applications and documents tossed in the garbage can.
Those related or connected to the newly employed person get money and side-benefits from their loved one who now has a monthly pay cheque. Most Namibians don’t even see this scenario as corruption; but it is.
Regularly, I hear some of my ‘old family’ white Namibian friends totally dissin’ the current government for their corrupt ways. I wonder if they realize that every single bit of wealth they have derives from the world’s nastiest corruption: apartheid and colonialism.
Put in ‘hood terms, when I hear them whinge about corruption, it’s like watching a drug lord who made a fortune runnin’ coke, crack and heroin express outrage over thieves who ripped-off his drug money. I find it hard to feel empathy with their rants about the evils of theft.
Fredrick Douglass, a great Black American abolitionist, former slave, orator, and activist in his day said that power concedes NOTHING without struggle. He was right in the 19th century and he is right in the 21st century.
The myth that an ACC created and funded by the powerful people it was set up to oversee, can curb corruption is nonsensical. I pity those charged with bailing water out of a boat with a gaping hole.