Political analysts have urged President Hage Geingob to put his money where his mouth is by taking action against ministers or other public officials implicated in corruption acts rather than making continuous public utterances in a blunted way.
Their reaction on Thursday comes a day after the president strongly condemned acts of corruption by some government officials, during the official celebrations in Tsumeb to mark 28 years of Namibia’s independence from colonial rule.
According to Geingob, allegations and perceptions of corruption have led to the public losing faith and confidence in a few government ministries and agencies.
“We cannot allow corruption to sabotage 28 years of progress. Corruption undermines stability and social cohesion,” the president said.
“A country where inequality still exists cannot be successful. As I always emphasize, inclusivity spells harmony - and exclusivity spells conflict.”
However, political analyst and visiting professor at the University of Cape Town, Henning Melber, said Geingob is not doing much to punish the culprits.
“Should the president not act decisively against corruption, then his presidency will - like Pohamba’s before him, be measured against the promises to curb corruption.
“The fact that President Geingob phrased it in such a relatively blunt way seems to indicate that he is aware of a problem of massive proportion. At the same time he enters an obligation to put his money where his mouth is. If he delivers as little as his predecessor did, it will dent his track record, because there are no serious actions following the words,” Melber said.
He said corruption remains a major public concern and has now also become a concern for the presidency.
“But this also means that he should take the necessary action. Looking at the latest Cabinet reshuffle, it was not obvious that he would punish culprits or at least issue yellow cards (if not red ones) - using the analogy that he as a football fan certainly understands.
“There are other controversial issues related to self-enrichment and privileges, such as the allocation of land to people who hardly qualify as previously disadvantaged. There applies the same: action speaks louder than words,”Melber said.
Official Opposition Party Leader, Mchenry Venaani, said the question should not be whether the president is serious about tackling corruption, but focus should be on what he is doing about corruption.
“The president might be serious in tackling corruption, but he does not realise that the power lies within him to open up cases of corruption for an effective handling of this matter.
“The president is the one who is siding with August 26 to withhold its responsibility from the public while it is a public entity. By doing so he is furthering corruption at that entity.
“The president is the same man who is saying that the directors at the SME Bank are not wrong and he is doing nothing to open up a judicial inquiry, so the question is not whether he is serious, but it is what he does. Is he doing anything to curb corruption? For now he is doing absolutely nothing.
“There are permanent secretaries that are known to him, and senior civil servants and Cabinet ministers that are being shifted from one position to another knowing that they have committed corruption and fraud. In Namibia, when you are corrupt, you are shifted from one position to another,” Venaani said.