Namibia stagnates in anti-corruption efforts

Graham Hopwood

Institute of Public Policy and Research (IPPR) director Graham Hopwood says Namibia needs concerted actions in order to demonstrate its seriousness in fighting corruption.

This comes as the 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows that Namibia has made no progress in tackling public sector corruption in the last three years.

The index, released yesterday by Transparency International, shows the country maintained a score of 49 out of 100 (where 100 represents low corruption levels and 0 signifies high corruption levels).

The country’s ranking remains stagnant at 59th out of 180 nations, mirroring its position in the 2022 CPI report.

“It is likely that Namibia gains credit for commencing prosecutions in the Fishrot case in the CPI. But this is counteracted by the areas where Namibia should be taking action to tackle corruption but where we are lagging behind,” Hopwood said.

Hopwood said there is an urgent need for implementing key measures to enhance the country’s anti-corruption efforts.

These include fully enforcing the Access to Information Act and the Whistleblower Protection Act, as well as joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

Additionally, he urged the Electoral Commission of Namibia to ensure transparency in political party funding, as mandated by the Electoral Act.

Hopwood also advocated transparent and systematic asset declaration for public officials and elected politicians.

Political analyst Henning Melber said Namibia stagnating in the CPI can be seen as the proverbial glass that is half full and half empty at the same time.

“It is half full, because it means Namibia has not scored less, and it’s half empty, because of no improvements,” Melber said.

He cautioned that one needs to keep in mind that the CPI is based on publicly recorded perceptions, which means that the real degree of corruption is not assessed.

“Simply for that reason that you cannot assess corruption not publicly revealed and discussed. So the CPI simply records that in the Namibian public sphere not much has changed when it comes to the perception of corruption,” Melber said.

In its most recent report, the Public Service Commission (PSC) listed the corruption reported in the government with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security.

“The regional offices of the ministry seem to be prone to abuse and corruption due to a lack of strict supervision and control in the area of issuance of national documents,” the report reads.

The commission also flagged the then Ministry of Finance for solicitation and bribes.

“The PSC is also aware of pocket incidents where some staff members accept or solicit bribes to carry out their duties. This behaviour is construed as corrupt and has the effect of compromising proper adherence to established norms and systems in the ministry and the public service,” the report reads.

It is believed that Namibia has recorded progress on e-citizenship and online services, but stagnated on control for corruption for the rest.
“Despite the good human rights infrastructure, government favouritism is still widespread and the domination of one party over almost three decades has consolidated and is not seriously challenged by a press and a judiciary that otherwise work far better than the regional average.”

FISHROT EFFECT

Hopwood further said the IPPR is working with Transparency International Iceland to call to account all the actors involved in the Fishrot scandal.

Transparency International Iceland cites Icelandic fishing company Samherji’s involvement in the Fishrot scandal in Namibia as a factor contributing to Iceland’s lowest-ever score in the CPI.

“Transparency International Iceland points out that Namibia has lost three points since the revelations of Samherji’s actions in Namibia. Iceland’s score has dropped by six points during the same period,” Transparency International noted.

In 2023 CPI, Iceland’s score fell two points from the previous year, reaching 72 out of 100. This aligns with Iceland’s long-term trend, having lost six points in the last five years and 10 points over the past decade.

According to the organisation, corruption in top-ranking countries often manifests in less visible forms, such as blurred lines between politics and business, inadequate controls on political finance, and revolving doors between industries and regulators.

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