Enter the Anti-Graft Agency

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK President Hifikepunye Pohamba has sternly warned people with corrupt tendencies that they would face the “full wrath of the law, if found guilty of corruption”, regardless of their public standing. The Head of State said this when he officially launched the long-awaited Anti-Corruption Commission in Windhoek yesterday, with close to 300 VIPs, parliamentarians, ambassadors, private and public sector representatives and other dignitaries in attendance. With the clarion call to fight this cancerous evil with an iron fist, Pohamba further stressed that those people who make themselves guilty of corruption will be dealt with “sternly and swiftly”. Therefore no suspect will be allowed to escape the law. At the same time the Head of State encouraged whistleblowers and informants to report any corrupt practices to the newly launched ACC without any fear, as they would be protected by the State. Therefore even though Namibia does not have a law in place to protect whistleblowers, government has expressed their commitment to take on this responsibility when it comes to corruption. “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,” stressed President Pohamba with a clenched fist, adding that through the ACC “corruption must be fought with an iron fist”. Besides whistleblowers, officials and employees of the ACC who may also become targets of intimidation and threats from racketeers, organised crime kingpins and other criminals will also be protected by Government to enable them to carry out their duties in a “deliberate and straight-forward manner”. Before handing over the Cards of Authority to the Director of ACC Paulus Kalomoh Noa and his Deputy Erna Lorraine van der Merwe, the Head of State stated firmly that the days of corruption must come to an end with the ushering in of the new agency. He therefore urged all Namibians to join government in fighting this challenge “as we need to mould a society that values virtues that can further strengthen our social fabric”. At the same time law enforcement agencies and the justice system have been urged to also send a strong and clear message that “corruption does not pay”. Echoing the Head of State’s sentiment, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah added that “for the corruptible and those who get their so-called comfort through corrupt activities” the start of the ACC means “bad days for them”. Speaking to New Era at the end of the official ceremony, newly appointed director Noa reiterated his position that “no stone will be left unturned” until corrupt officials have been brought to book. “This Commission is going to intensify its work by investigating corrupt cases reported to us. We have also put up mechanisms to protect our whistleblowers,” stated Noa firmly. Recruitment of competent investigators will get underway soon, ensuring that investigations are dealt with efficiently and effectively. “This Commission will be a credible one of the highest standard and not turn out to be a white elephant,” added Noa. Commenting on the latest milestone event, Founding Father Dr Sam Nujoma told New Era that the Swapo Party would by all beans support the ACC in order to uproot corruption in the country. Representatives from the church fraternity, like Reverend Nangula Kathindi said the new anti-graft body is long overdue to instil a culture of morality and honesty back into society, which has been of grave concern lately.