Whistleblowers Flood Graft Agency

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Barely a week after it was inaugurated, the graft-busting agency the Anti-Corruption Commission is already being kept on its toes with whistleblowers flooding the office with tip-offs on corrupt practices. So far, over 50 complaints have been brought to the attention of the ACC Director Paulus Noa, that include suspected bribery in the awarding of tenders, bribery of police officers by the public in issuing traffic tickets, abuse of public vehicles by Government officials, obtaining illegal licences and the appointment or promotion of people who are relatives of those working at various Government ministries. Sitting with a stack of documents on his desk, Noa said that at the moment, the office is only taking down the statements, after which it would carry out investigations, before sending them to the Prosecutor General’s Office. He encouraged the public to continue coming forward with cases of corruption, as this would go a long way to ensure a corruption-free democracy and a vibrant economy at the same time. “People should come forward and reveal corrupt practices in the public or private sector. We are ready to investigate these cases and working on it already. People should not be surprised that some arrests will be carried out soon,” said Noa. When President Hifike-punye Pohamba launched the graft-busting agency last Wednesday, an assurance was given that whistleblow-ers or informants who report on alleged corrupt practices would be protected by the State. Even though Namibia does not have a law in place to protect whistleblowers, the Government has expressed its commitment to do that in order to stamp out 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. Noa echoed the same to the public, saying they should freely report cases of corruption in the country without any fear or favour, as their identity would be kept confidential. “We can take down the statements but not disclose the identity of the person until the investigation is complete,” he assured. Generally, most Namibians have a culture of fear when it comes to reporting any wrongdoing like fraud, mismanagement of funds and waste of public resources. However, Noa said the ACC would go round the country conducting education campaigns to inform the public about the dangers and negative consequences of corruption. “Corruption starts with your mindset. If you start teaching yourself not to be associated with corruption, then you won’t be corrupt. Therefore, we plan to teach the community especially from the grassroots level not to be associated with it.” While Noa and his deputy Erna Lorraine van der Merwe are currently only collecting witness reports, they look forward to more action once the ACC has appointed efficient investigators onto its team. Currently, the ACC is temporarily being housed at Frans Indongo Building in the city. Meanwhile, as of yesterday, Noa is representing Namibia at a weeklong United Nations Anti-Corruption Regional summit underway in Pretoria, South Africa. Significantly, this is the first time for Namibia to be placed on the map as one of the countries that have made a move against corruption, through the ACC. The summit is geared towards Southern African countries to ratify the UN Convention against Corruption already ratified by Namibia.