Anti-Corruption Drive Gets into Gear

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The Director of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Paulus Noa, yesterday briefed President Hifikepunye Pohamba on the investigations into the hundreds of alleged corruption cases reported to the agency. The ACC has officially begun to operate in earnest. Paying a courtesy call to President Pohamba at State House yesterday, Noa informed the Head of State about the latest developments of the ACC since it was established at the beginning of January this year. Speaking to New Era after the visit, the ACC director was positive that the information was well received by President Pohamba as rooting out corruption has always been his policy priority since he came into power in March last year. Due to high public demand for information about the numerous Presidential Commissions of Inquiry held in the last few years, the director said that he had approached the President with a request for these reports to be made public and investigated by the ACC. The Presidential Commissions of Inquiry include that into the Social Security Commission, the Development Brigade Corporation and the Roads Authority. Another new development regarding the corruption-busting agency is that a new staff compliment has been approved by the Office of the Prime Minister a few days ago. This means that advertisement will now appear for applications to fill the 30 envisaged positions at the ACC. Noa said although the staff compliment is small, it is expected to grow based on the number of corruption cases lodged at the Commission’s office, currently at the Frans Indongo buildings. The office is however expected to move near the Polytechnic soon. “Investigations take on different dimensions and it depends on what kind of cases we will be getting in as time progresses”, explained Noa. While there’ll be a unit for investigating officials, there will also be a different units for Prosecution, Intelligence, Education Campaigns and Corruption Prevention as well as Support staff. More than 200 alleged corruption cases have been reported to the ACC so far. They will now be investigated while some will be referred to the Office of the Ombudsman and other institutions for investigation. “Not all cases that come in or reported to us are corruption related. So for these we will send through to appropriate institutions for more investigation”, added the ACC Director. So far, the cases stacked up in the office range from bribery in awarding tenders, bribery of police officers by the public when issuing traffic tickets to abuse of public vehicles by government officials. Others are about obtaining illegal licences and the appointment or promotion of people who are relatives to those working in government ministries. The director also informed President Pohamba about the pertinent need to review the Public Service Policy Regulations in order to put in place measures that would oblige those responsible for disciplinary hearings to speed up the process. “This has become a serious problem,” he added. The director is of the opinion that any public official who deliberately delays this process will have to face the music of prosecution by the Anti-Corruption Commission. “The commission is all geared up to completely destroy any incidents of corruption in the country”, he said. In the light of this policy, he encourages the public to continue coming forward with cases of corruption since this will go a long way towards ensuring a corruption-free democracy and a vibrant economy at the same time. Drumming home the message of preventing corruption and encouraging the public to continuously root out this cancer, Noa had this message: “People should come forward and reveal corrupt practices in the public or the 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.” The investigations into alleged corruption cases started four months after the ACC was officially inaugurated by President Pohamba in early January this year.