ACC Chief Urges More Legislation

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) says there is need for legislation that not only reinforces the protection of whistle-blowers but also obliges senior officers to blow the whistle on graft. While this will enable the public to expose corrupt officials without fear of victimisation, it will also create an enabling environment for officials in government, the private sector and parastatals who do not blow the whistle to face the music. “I strongly believe that once the public is educated on the dangers of corruption and their protection of victimisation is guaranteed by way of legislation, they can be of great source of information to the commission,” Paulus Noa, Director of ACC said at the launch of the Zero Tolerance for Corruption Campaign yesterday. Noa said the public needs education and information on the evils and dangers of corruption, which he said had a transnational dimension and termed it “the mother of all crimes”. The government has been lauded for its political will to root out the evil that among other things leads to violations of human rights, undermines the rule of law and impacts adversely on the poor. Apart from establishing the graft agency, the government has also ratified the UN Convention against Corruption and the SADC Protocol against Corruption. But according to Noa, although some bodies aimed at fighting corruption have failed due to lack of a clear commitment of political leadership to combat corruption and to take decisive action against corrupt officials, lack of political will alone is not enough as the commission needs adequate resources. The commission is now in the process of submitting a staff establishment structure to the Public Service Commission for possible recommendation. Due to the importance of the staff structure to the effective investigations and subsequent prosecution, Noa said it is vital that the recommended structure attracts competent and experienced personnel to join the commission. “As soon as the staff component is fully put in place, the fight against this monster will escalate. We shall with the necessary vigour investigate or cause to be investigated all complaints lodged with the commission,” he said. When required, Noa said, the commission would also initiate investigations against corrupt practices to assemble evidence for possible prosecution. Amongst the people the commission will investigate are those employed in public and private bodies, which in the commission’s opinion may be connected with or conducive to a corrupt practice. Apart from criminal corruption, said Noa, there is also another form of corruption, namely administrative or political corruption, which is committed when consti-tutional principles are ignored. “It is further committed when democratic principles, such as participation by the public in government affairs through regular general elections, are ignored,” he ad-ded. In this case, refusing to take unpopular but right decisions is another kind of corruption.