Economic Planning Minister, Tom Alweendo, has criticised the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for failing to stem the rising tide of graft in the country.
Speaking at the ACC Extractive Industry Workshop on 23 October, the minister said there is a growing public perception that the ACC is currently unable to carry out its mandate.
He said the anti-graft agency should increase its activities and bring to book those who are stealing public resources.
“It is well to have anti-corruption laws, but that will not prevent corruption – what it does is to catch those who are corrupt. However, with ethical leadership – whether in Government, private sector or civil societies – you will be assured of the absence of corruption.
“I am not in any way suggesting that anti-corruption laws are not necessary. To the contrary – we need to have strong and unambiguous governance laws to deal with corruption. The point I am making is that laws are necessary, but not sufficient to root out corruption.
“At this juncture I want to encourage the Anti-Corruption Commission to redouble its effort in fighting corruption. There is a growing public voice that suggests that the ACC is not up to the task entrusted to it. The perception is that the ACC is reluctant to deal with corruption cases. This could well be just a perception, but the unfortunate thing is that what people perceive becomes truth to them,”Alweendo said.
The minister had been asked to talk about how the extractive industry can contribute to Namibia’s sustainable development goals as set-out in the fifth National Development Plan (NDP5).
He argued that wealth lies in natural resources, but if not managed properly, it leads to social and economic inequalities and has the potential to increase conflict.
“If our natural resources are to be harnessed for sustainable development, more accountable and transparent mechanisms must be developed. For these mechanisms to be “effective” they need the support of a broad range of stakeholders, including Government, the legislature, multinational companies, civil society and the media.
“The first step in promoting transparency will be through the public declaration of interest. Government must publicly report the revenues received from the extractive industry companies and those companies must publicly report the revenues they pay to Government. The second step is full disclosure in the awarding of contracts and exploration licences, among other things,”Alweendo said.
ACC has on numerous occasions come under fire regarding various cases which were dropped, including the latest probe to bring justice on the exorbitant legal fees paid to British based lawyers.
The graft-busting agency has also stopped investigating the swindled N$23,5 million of Kora money by Ernst Andjovi and his company, Mundial Telecom, citing that evidence gathered showed that the case was a civil matter.
The economic planning minister stated that not only does corruption affect economic development in terms of economic efficiency and growth, but also equitable distribution of resources, thereby increasing income inequality.
“Corruption has the potential to undermine our ability and capacity to collect tax revenue. When taxpayers evade their responsibilities to pay taxes, this is a form of corruption and it has an adverse effect on the Government budget and therefore on service delivery.
“Corruption has also an eroding long-term effect on economic growth at the company level. We all know that all successful economies have one feature in common – strong and competitive enterprises. It is enterprises – whether publicly or privately owned – that create wealth for society.
“Enterprises are therefore at the centre of economic growth. In highly corrupt economies, enterprises find it difficult to grow and prosper and they are less competitive and highly inefficient.”
He said corruption is not only bad for economic growth and enterprises, but also for ordinary citizens, especially the poor and the most vulnerable.
“When the public investment cost in large public infrastructure is highly inflated, it reduces the Government’s capacity to fund social welfare. When companies and individuals evade their responsibility to pay the required taxes, it diminishes the Government’s ability to fund programmes aimed at poverty alleviation – thereby perpetuating existing income inequality,” Alweendo said.