WE have over the years documented that Government financial woes have been acerbated by public servants who continue to loot state coffers through dubious payments to ghost companies, over-invoicing, and other diversionary actions leading to a rise in people on modest salaries living immodestly.
Corruption has become a major problem in recent times and partly explains the financial crisis that the Government now finds itself in. Whilst financial overextension has always been the first step toward being bribed or at least being open to bribery and corruption, President Hage Geingob’s call for lifestyle audits should be applauded as an initiative long overdue and one that can rid the country of corruption and complement the assets declaration stance.
Imperatively, Namibia’s filthy rich tycoons, Swapo bigwigs and wheeler-dealers, who live in lavish mansions sprawling across vast acres of space with landscaped surroundings and drive luxury cars, face a lifestyle audit together with others who have for decades manipulated Government systems for personal gain.
According to Geingob, Government is determined to eradicate poverty, but most importantly corruption with investigations of unexplained wealth a good indicator of this determination. It is no secret that some public officials currently own property worth billion inclusive of enormous farms. Some can afford to buy luxury vehicles such as the latest Ferraris and the 2016 edition of the Range Rover yet their incomes are not equivalent to such spending hence the question of where they get this money from needs to be interrogated.
We had hoped that assets declaration would prove successful but to date the only Government minister that has publicly declared his assets is Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein, who did so more than a year after Geingob and his wife, Monica Geingos, declared their assets with the majority members of Parliament having only declared their interests.
For this reason as a publication, we hope that this move by President Geingob, unlike previous recommendations, will receive unequivocal attention from Government and should not be used to divert attention away from corrupt public representatives and make public servants scapegoats.
We have always maintained that corruption has never done this country any good, and in asserting this long held view we reiterate that it must be uprooted with the tenacity it deserves. In order to give meaning and effect to this recommendation, we strongly believe that this decision must, as a matter of priority, be focused on senior public servants as a starting point. It is obvious that most of those, who are susceptible to corruption within the public service are those placed in strategic positions tasked with decision taking responsibilities.
This will not only strengthen corruption fighting systems but will also encourage civil society to become vocal proponents in the fight against corruption as ministers and other top state officials will particularly sweat to explain their dodgy wealth. Their material fortunes often get exposed during divorce cases will meet the law if government legislates this initiative.
Conclusively, this should not be a one-off campaign. It should be a continuous process. However, this will require political will at the highest levels to ensure that the culprits do not escape censure because they enjoy political patronage.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015