By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Women’s Action for Development (WAD) has called for an information drive to sensitise rural communities about the pivotal role they can play in stamping out corruption. The call was made during a recent orientation visit by WAD’s National and Regional Women’s Voices to the Anti-Corruption Commis-sion’s (ACC) office in Windhoek. According to Executive Director of WAD Veronica De Klerk, the main objective of the visit was to encourage grassroots people through the organisation’s national women’s voice groups to know what key role they can play in uprooting corruption in their communities. In order to help rural communities to know the appropriate steps they need to take when reporting any forms of corrupt practices to the Commission, chairpersons of the National Women’s Voice and some members of the Hardap Women’s voice formed part of last week’s delegation to the ACC offices. Since education is vital in making the nation aware of the dangers and how to report corruption in the country, WAD saw it fit to start up their own information drive with assistance from the ACC. “We are calling for information brochures in all local languages for the rural people to understand and know the steps to take in order to access the Commission when reporting corruption cases,” said De Klerk, adding that it is imperative for people in the communities to know how to make use of the ACC in order to root out corruption in their respective areas. As watchdogs for the grassroots people, the six Regional Women’s Voice bodies in the country could turn out to be the eyes and ears of the people in solving social problems. All too often, it is the un-fortunate ordinary citizens who become victims of corruption at the end of the day, she said. Alleged corruption cited by the WAD members during the visit ranged from medicines and patients’ bedding being stolen at state hospitals and some police officers who get frequently involved in crimes like stock and vehicle theft and their cases ultimately getting thrown out due to lack of evidence. De Klerk noted with concern that WAD is “profoundly disturbed by the incidence of corruption which is continuously surfacing in the Namibian society, while the poor and unemployed are struggling to merely feed and clothe their families”. Since President Hifikepunye Pohamba inaugurated the ACC on February 1, many rural people are still ignorant of the role of the agency and how they can go about reporting corrupt practices. That is why a simplified information brochure about the commission would be helpful, she said. “WAD is convinced that the more members of the public are informed about the steps to take to report cases of corruption of the Commission, the greater the deterring effect it would have on potential offenders of corruption,” concluded De Klerk. On his part, ACC Director Paulus Noa accompanied by his Deputy Erna van der Merwe stressed the importance of getting public assistance in the fight against corruption. “The Commission can only succeed in its functions if it has the back up of the community. You are the eyes and watchdogs of the commission, so familiarise yourselves with the commission, because it is your commission.” Noa added that all allegations of corruption brought to the attention of the ACC are taken seriously. Cases that do not fall under its ambit are referred to other relevant authorities like the Ombudsman. He encouraged the public to report cases of corruption, saying whistleblowers would be protected by the State. In light of this, Noa said parliamentarians should be encouraged to come up with legislation to protect whistle-blowers from intimidation or any threat to their lives after reporting alleged corruption cases.
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