Fighting Corruption

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Farayi Munyuki This week, the government sent on forced leave a top official from the Caprivi Region for negligence and for allowing food meant for distribution to flood victims to rot. The decision that the government took should be applauded. Many of our top officials have had the temerity of allowing instruments meant for hospitals and other institutions to be left to rust. They seem not to understand that this is another form of corruption. And when they are reprimanded for wrongdoing, they seem not to understand why such actions are being taken against them. The Government of President Pohamba since its inception has on several occasions stated its position clearly on corruption. In fact, fighting corruption is the cornerstone of its policy. The reason is quite clear – corruption in the long run infects all forms of government. The government knows that in the long term it cannot afford the social, political or economic costs that corruption entails. Not only has the governor of the Caprivi region failed in his duty to execute what is mandated to him in terms of feeding the hungry and victims of floods, but also he failed to realise that foreign governments who are friends of Namibia donated the food. He is not the only person to have slackened in his duties. Many others have done so as well. Take the case of the governor who has zoned large tracts of land so that her cattle can graze alone. This is misuse of power and authority. And another governor who took away a sewing business from a person who had been awarded the contract to make office curtains and instead gave the contract to her relative. Inefficiency and corruption has been the root of the canker since independence. Today, Kenya is riddled with all sorts of corruption. The head of the anti-corruption unit was forced to flee his country after he unearthed massive corruption among certain cabinet ministers. The Minister of Finance, who earlier had denied vehemently that he was not corrupt or involved in corrupt practices, finally resigned last week. The new Kenyan government is now totally discredited by the international community. We saw what happened to the Chiluba government in Zambia. Corruption became so rife that in the end, Zambians refused to be associated with a corrupt government. Today the former president is spending some of his time defending himself in court on what happened to millions of Kwacha that vanished during his time in office. In West Africa, corruption is a form of life. Another form of corruption that is daily being practiced is usually manifested at our borders with Zambia and Botswana at Ngoma. Buses from Zambia and Botswana, or from Namibia into Zambia and Botswana en route to Zimbabwe are held for five or more hours in order for officials to receive some form of bribe. It will be in the interest of good governance if countries sharing common borders can agree on measures of anti-bribery standards through a number of outreach activities in the anti-corruption campaign. Suspending officials who leave food to rot is not enough. Government needs to develop shark-like teeth in order to counter the damage. What about officials who leave government buildings to rot? Those officials who misuse government vehicles and petrol? To imagine that the governor of the Caprivi region is the only one who has slackened in his duties in the last 15 years of independence would be unfortunate. Within the top echelon of our civil service, many would have fallen by the wayside.