Fighting Corruption Needs More Bucks

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek Leading politicians and lawyers strongly believe that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Namibia requires adequate funding for it to be effective. Namibia’s first Prime Minister Hage Geingob, former attorney-generals Vekuii Rukoro and Hartmut Ruppel shared the sentiment on Monday during a videoconference with Robert Klitgaard on corruption prevention. Contributing to the discussion, Geingob said the ACC definitely needs more financial and human resources to enable it to perform its duties. The former premier said highly skilled people such as computer experts are needed to investigate the complex issues involved in corruption. Rukoro shared the sentiments and noted that after the Namibian parliament had shown the political will and put up the legal framework and set up the agency, it needed to increase the funding of the ACC. The former deputy justice minister (Rukoro) said although corruption is not rife, the red lights are flickering and government needs to act. He added that it should not only be the responsibility of government to provide funding, while the private sector and foreign agencies could help in this regard. Ruppel on his part said it is critical for the ACC to preserve its credibility in fighting corruption and that it can only do so if it is effective in its mission. He added that legal frameworks and political will are not sufficient for corruption to be addressed effectively. Cultural and attitude change are needed to support the legal framework. He also noted that sometimes the change should start from the bottom and move to the top, and that smaller offences such as those involving traffic should be addressed strongly in order to instill an anti-corruption culture. Klitgaard, who is from the United States, highlighted three points, namely, corruption and decentralization, systems and corruption as well as the period it takes to root out corruption. Klitgaard said decentralization in many countries often leads to corruption, adding that local councillors and administrators because of the lack of adequate skills and direct access to resources, indulge in this malpractice and create a local elite. He argued that at times the system leads to corruption and not necessarily of individuals. “If the system has a monopoly and lacks accountability it leads to corruption,” he contended, adding that corruption is a crime of economic calculation. “If the probability of being caught is small and the penalty is mild and the pay-off is large relative to the positive incentives facing the government official, then we will tend to find corruption.” Klitgaard further noted that it is true that different individuals react differently to the temptations of corruption, and that many public and private officials refrain from corruption even when temptations are great. “But it is crucial for fighting corruption to recognize that as temptations rise so do levels of corruption.” He added that to control corruption one approach could be to lessen monopoly, clarify and limit discretion and enhance accountability. “Reducing corruption is not the only problem and we might spend so much money attacking corruption, or generate so much red tape and bureaucracy, that the cost and losses in efficiency would outweigh the benefits of lower corruption.” The videoconference was organized by the American Cultural Center and attended by various individuals including journalists, politicians and students, as well as the Director of the ACC, Paulus Noa.