Graft Body – What Functions?

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Though primarily tasked with investigating allegations of graft, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) office has since the beginning of this year also received numerous labour and family-related cases. According to the Director of the Anti Corruption Commission Paulus Noa, it seems the general public does not necessarily understand the main functions of the commission, and there is need to educate them on the core functions of the ACC. Though he could not break down cases into categories, Noa told New Era yesterday that over 70 cases of corruption, labour and family-related matters have been reported since his office became operational in January. He says once the commission appoints its own personnel, education campaigns shall be carried out to inform Namibians on the functions of the commission and what constitutes corruption and other shady practices. “We can only fight corruption if the members of the society are educated on the dangers that can be caused by corruption,” he said. The commission has a wide range of functions, among them investigating complaints or allegations lodged or it may initiate an investigation of the allegation that it becomes aware of through the media or elsewhere. Given that its other function is to consult, co-operate and exchange information with appropriate bodies or authorities including bodies beyond the borders of the country, the ACC guru says cases that might necessarily need the intervention of the body will be forwarded to relevant bodies. Noa further said that once Cabinet approves the staff structure of the commission, advertisements would be publicised followed by the appointment of staff. He added that the commission would give priority to the appointment of investigators, given the rising number of cases reported. Corruption, a problem that has received attention of late, has affected many countries worldwide. According to Noa, corruption is a monster that can seriously constrain development of the national economies and prevent good governance. Given its deteriorating effect on development, the anti Corruption commission has therefore been created to expose corrupt officials in both the public and private sectors through whistle-blowers and let them undergo a process of prosecution. Being the only way to reinforce accountability and transparency to prevent unethical behaviour, he added, there is a great need to train personnel to ensure accurate investigations. However, this would not be realised if resources are not availed to the commission. Hence he appealed to Government to consider this when they make available resources, particularly financial resources. “Adequate training and resources are necessary to ensure that reported cases are dealt with effectively,” he stressed. Further, training of staff members would act as a determinant on how early whistle-blowers will report corrupt cases. “Whistle-blowers will only blow the whistle if they are confident that effective action against corruption will be the result,” Noa added. The commission has vowed to take measures for the prevention of corruption seriously and commission officials who will be found to be ignoring cases reported to their offices will equally dance to the tune of the law, as this on its own would qualify to be considered corruption, the director warned. He reiterated that there would be no mercy on identified perpetrators.