ACC blasts Kandjeke on corruption reports

19 October 2018 Author   Eliaser Ndeyanale

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Head of Investigations, Nelius Becker, has blasted Auditor-General Junias Kandjeke, for not reporting financial mismanagement, discrepancies or outright corruption to his office for further investigations.Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Head of Investigations, Nelius Becker, has blasted Auditor-General Junias Kandjeke, for not reporting financial mismanagement, discrepancies or outright corruption to his office for further investigations.

Last week, Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, tabled reports in the National Assembly covering 13 local authorities which revealed gross financial mismanagement and other financial misdemeanours.
In an interview with the Windhoek Observer this week following publication of the reports, Becker said he finds it astonishing that discrepancies are reported in audit reports every year yet it appears that there is no follow up or any pressure from the Office of the Auditor-General to compel such institutions to provide feedback within a specified time to the questions raised. 
“That is really shocking,” Becker said. 
He said there was a need for local authorities or government offices and agencies to submit their financial reports on time to the Auditor-General because submitting them very late is another way of covering up possible malfeasance or losses.
In one of the reports on the Witvlei Village Council, an audit by the office of the Auditor General unearthed that a Toyota Land Cruiser belonging to the council is registered in the name of a council employee.
Becker said such information has not been reported to the ACC for further investigations.
“I will make enquiries with the AG in respect of the vehicle information and if it in fact appeared in such a report, we will load it onto our case management system,” he said.
Among the local authorities and town councils whose reports were tabled in Parliament last week are those of Opuwo, Witvlei, Oshikuku, Outapi, Ko?s, Bethanie, Grootfontein, Kamanjab and Omuthiya.
In the report of the Ko?s Village Council for the financial year ended 30 June 2016, council reported that it had received income of N$20,000 from the Road Fund Administration, but the Fund said it had forwarded N$352,000 resulting in an unexplained difference of N$332,000.
At Kamanjab Village Council, Kandjeke observed that the council incurred an expenditure of N$11,459 (accumulating to N$583,192 since 2010) in legal fees to collect debts on behalf of the council, however, no debts were recovered during this exercise. 
Early this year, the Windhoek Observer reported that the Ministry of Health and Social Services could not account for 100 vehicles.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Mike Kavekotora, said the dire situation in regional town councils, village councils or municipalities can be ascribed to a range of factors including a lack of appropriate financial and management skills and the reluctant by government to decentralize services to the regions.
“The failure to fill key personnel positions is also a problem, as is the fact that there’s clearly a lack of political will to ensure accountability,” Kavekotora said.
He said his committee will submit recommendations to the National Assembly for local authorities and regional councils to have internal auditors to detect fraud, corruption and compliance with legislation.
“Village councils, town councils, municipalities and regional councils need to be capacitated with proper accounting officers or internal auditors because now you can’t determine whether the funds that the Auditor General says are unaccounted for are missing or was not properly recorded,” Kavekotora said.  
“What is happening now is that the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development sends someone to these institutions on a monthly or quarterly basis to do the internal audit, but that’s not enough.” 
Kavekotora said he had proposed these recommendations to the National Assembly during the budget debate this year, but they were allegedly put on hold pending a joint visit to the regions to be undertaken by the standing committees of both National Assembly and National Council.
Asked why his office does not send information to the ACC in instances where they believe there was financial mismanagement and corruption, Kandjeke said his reports are public documents and if ACC picks up something they believe is corruption related they should investigate. 
“If they find something that is related to their mandate they should investigate, they must not expect us to give them the reports. These reports are public documents and if they don’t want to see them they won’t see them anyway. Tell Becker that we don’t report to him, we report to Parliament and that’s what the law says,” Kandjeke said.
In an interview with the Windhoek Observer in June, Kandjeke said that he wanted his office to be given more powers to bring to book public officials abusing State resources.
This comes as a trend is developing across Africa, where Auditor Generals are being given more powers to bring to book government officials accused of abusing tax payers’ money.
South Africa’s Parliament this year passed a Bill which gives the office of the Auditor-General more bite.
The Bill gives the Auditor General the power to refer adverse findings to investigative bodies‚ as well as recover funds from accounting officers lost due to non-adherence to the Public Finance Management Act.
At the time, Kandjeke said Auditor Generals in countries such as Ghana, Mozambique and Malawi have already been given more powers, while other countries are in the process of doing so.
At the moment, Kandjeke’s powers are restricted to auditing public finances and have reports tabled in parliament so that the people’s representatives could see how taxpayers’ money was being used.
 “The whole continent is moving towards that direction, where the Auditor General can take action to ensure that money is recovered, and when the Auditor General gives instructions, people comply,” Kandjeke said at the time.

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