Graft busters get teeth

Graft busters get teeth

THE fight to stamp out the “cancer of corruption” was given impetus yesterday with the inauguration of the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Nearly two and a half years since Namibia’s Anti-Corruption Act was passed by Parliament, the commission officially got off the ground and its directors were given the go-ahead to take action. President Hifikepunye Pohamba said corruption had to be fought with an iron fist.DRASTIC STEPS He said there was consensus that corruption and corrupt practices had become a problem in Namibia and reports of theft, misappropriation of resources and fraud in both the public and private sectors were appearing ever more frequently in the news media.”In my view, our country has reached a stage where drastic steps must be taken to address corruption and its effects in a frontal and direct manner,” Pohamba told a large gathering of politicians, the diplomatic corps, the business fraternity, traditional and church leaders in Windhoek.Pohamba warned that status would play no role in punishing those guilty of corrupt practices.”This event [inauguration of the ACC], demonstrates the fruition of our long-standing commitment to fight corruption, not only by word of mouth, but through concrete actions including the establishment of relevant institutions and structures,” said Pohamba.EXECUTE ACTION Pohamba handed Paulus Noa his card of authority as the director of the commission, while Erna van der Merwe was officially recognised as his deputy.These cards not only signify their appointments, but are to be presented to anyone the pair wish to execute action against.They set up offices in Windhoek last month already, but are yet to finalise a budget and advertise for staff to get cracking on complaints that have already been handed to them for action.”The commission should not become a tool in the hands of anyone, or at the behest of anybody, to victimise innocent citizens,” stressed Pohamba.He encouraged ordinary Namibians to join efforts to eradicate corruption by reporting incidents, both in the public and private sector, to the commission and promised protection against being harassed, victimised or intimidated.NO INTIMIDATION “Those who intimidate whistleblowers or attempt to do so are hereby warned.The State will use every available means at its disposal, within the framework of the law, to deal with such culprits,” he said.The same would also hold true for those who harassed officials of the commission.Pohamba pledged Government’s maximum support to the commission in ensuring its complete and uncompromised independence.Namibia, he said, could not allow itself to fall into the trap of other African nations where corruption had harmed national economies and robbed nations of the opportunity to benefit from their resources.”In my view it is a threat to our democratic way of life and a cancer that corrodes good governance,” said Pohamba.”All too often, developing countries, especially those in Africa, have by the attitude of some corrupt officials totally failed to live up to the aspirations of the people they were supposed to serve.Public offices have been turned into opportunities for personal enrichment.”Corruption, Pohamba added, had the potential to make citizens cynical about Government’s ability to bring tangible benefits to their lives and had the effect of causing a country to degenerate into lawlessness and anarchy.PROMOTING ETHICS “It is obvious that corruption and corrupt practices represent one of the greatest threats to stability, peace and security of any nation.It is for these reasons that the vices of corruption and greed should not be allowed to take root or to flourish in our society,” said Pohamba.The President said it was imperative that the fight against corruption had to go hand-in-hand with the promotion of ethics and ethical behaviour in society.”Each and every Namibian can play a role in this joint effort to shape an honest society with a strong sense of ethics and morals.In this light, our commitment to the fight against corruption must be complete and uncompromising,” said Pohamba.He said it was a misconception that Government was only now taking action to root out corruption and that it had, in fact, been instituting measures to curb the abuse and misappropriation of public assets since Independence.Pohamba cited the Public Service Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman, which paved the way for preventing the abuse of power.WRATH OF LAW He said the State Finance Act of 1991, the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977 and the Tender Board Act of 1996 were all legislative measures in operation over the years which bore testimony to Government’s unwavering commitment to fight corruption.”There is ample evidence in our country where public officials have faced the full wrath of our laws and have been prosecuted for the wrongs they have committed,” said Pohamba.But he said the Anti-Corruption Act was born out of the recognition that more needed to be done to combat crime and corruption.Pohamba said he hoped the new Criminal Procedure Act – passed in 2004 and providing for stiffer sentences for perpetrators of fraud and theft against the State – would become law soon to strengthen efforts to curb the misappropriation of public assets.”It does not matter whether such property is a pen, the minimum sentence is five years,” said Pohamba.Parliament also passed the Prevention of Organised Crime Act of 2004, which empowers authorities to seize any property or wealth of individuals suspected of having acquired it in a criminal manner.Noa and Van der Merwe both come from legal backgrounds – Noa has served as a magistrate for several years, while Van der Merwe has extensive experience as a legal drafter.President Hifikepunye Pohamba said corruption had to be fought with an iron fist.DRASTIC STEPS He said there was consensus that corruption and corrupt practices had become a problem in Namibia and reports of theft, misappropriation of resources and fraud in both the public and private sectors were appearing ever more frequently in the news media.”In my view, our country has reached a stage where drastic steps must be taken to address corruption and its effects in a frontal and direct manner,” Pohamba told a large gathering of politicians, the diplomatic corps, the business fraternity, traditional and church leaders in Windhoek.Pohamba warned that status would play no role in punishing those guilty of corrupt practices.”This event [inauguration of the ACC], demonstrates the fruition of our long-standing commitment to fight corruption, not only by word of mouth, but through concrete actions including the establishment of relevant institutions and structures,” said Pohamba.EXECUTE ACTION Pohamba handed Paulus Noa his card of authority as the director of the commission, while Erna van der Merwe was officially recognised as his deputy.These cards not only signify their appointments, but are to be presented to anyone the pair wish to execute action against.They set up offices in Windhoek last month already, but are yet to finalise a budget and advertise for staff to get cracking on complaints that have already been handed to them for action. “The commission should not become a tool in the hands of anyone, or at the behest of anybody, to victimise innocent citizens,” stressed Pohamba.He encouraged ordinary Namibians to join efforts to eradicate corruption by reporting incidents, both in the public and private sector, to the commission and promised protection against being harassed, victimised or intimidated.NO INTIMIDATION “Those who intimidate whistleblowers or attempt to do so are hereby warned.The State will use every available means at its disposal, within the framework of the law, to deal with such culprits,” he said.The same would also hold true for those who harassed officials of the commission.Pohamba pledged Government’s maximum support to the commission in ensuring its complete and uncompromised independence.Namibia, he said, could not allow itself to fall into the trap of other African nations where corruption had harmed national economies and robbed nations of the opportunity to benefit from their resources.”In my view it is a threat to our democratic way of life and a cancer that corrodes good governance,” said Pohamba.”All too often, developing countries, especially those in Africa, have by the attitude of some corrupt officials totally failed to live up to the aspirations of the people they were supposed to serve.Public offices have been turned into opportunities for personal enrichment.”Corruption, Pohamba added, had the potential to make citizens cynical about Government’s ability to bring tangible benefits to their lives and had the effect of causing a country to degenerate into lawlessness and anarchy.PROMOTING ETHICS “It is obvious that corruption and corrupt practices represent one of the greatest threats to stability, peace and security of any nation.It is for these reasons that the vices of corruption and greed should not be allowed to take root or to flourish in our society,” said Pohamba.The President said it was imperative that the fight against corruption had to go hand-in-hand with the promotion of ethics and ethical behaviour in society.”Each and every Namibian can play a role in this joint effort to shape an honest society with a strong sense of ethics and morals.In this light, our commitment to the fight against corruption must be complete and uncompromising,” said Pohamba.He said it was a misconception that Government was only now taking action to root out corruption and that it had, in fact, been instituting measures to curb the abuse and misappropriation of public assets since Independence.Pohamba cited the Public Service Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman, which paved the way for preventing the abuse of power.WRATH OF LAW He said the State Finance Act of 1991, the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977 and the Tender Board Act of 1996 were all legislative measures in operation over the years which bore testimony to Government’s unwavering commitment to fight corruption.”There is ample evidence in our country where public officials have faced the full wrath of our laws and have been prosecuted for the wrongs they have committed,” said Pohamba.But he said the Anti-Corruption Act was born out of the recognition that more needed to be done to combat crime and corruption.Pohamba said he hoped the new Criminal Procedure Act – passed in 2004 and providing for stiffer sentences for perpetrators of fraud and theft against the State – would become law soon to strengthen efforts to curb the misappropriation of public assets.”It does not matter whether such property is a pen, the minimum sentence is five years,” said Pohamba.Parliament also passed the Prevention of Organised Crime Act of 2004, which empowers authorities to seize any property or wealth of individuals suspected of having acquired it in a criminal manner.Noa and Van der Merwe both come from legal backgrounds – Noa has served as a magistrate for several years, while Van der Merwe has extensive experience as a legal drafter.

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