By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK African lawmakers are equally as guilty of corruption if they fail to pass anti-corruption laws in their countries that would aid in the fight against this ‘cancer’. This is the view of the Director of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Paulus Noa, who urged southern African legislators to pass laws and penalties that could effectively address the scourge of corruption in their respective countries. He is also of the opinion that failure to act against corruption is tantamount to corruption. “MPs, you have a responsibility. When you fail to bring into place laws that are closing all the gaps, you are making yourself accomplices in corruption,” he said. The anti-graft boss was speaking at the start of a three-day Southern African Regional Parliamentary Conference which got underway in Windhoek on Monday. If legal instruments are in place, SADC anti-corruption commissions would be able to carry out their tasks more effectively, especially in eliminating this anti-developmental practice altogether. At the end of the day, there will be what Noa terms “no safe haven for them to operate anymore.” He asked who would be to blame if there is no anti-corruption law in place in many African countries, which empowers agencies to act. Whether it is just petty corruption like bribery, or serious ones like money-laundering and mismanagement of huge public funds, such acts are “totally unacceptable”, said Noa. During the first day of deliberations yesterday, sentiments from some of the parliamentarians and experts on anti-corruption were that low morale, low salaries and poor worth ethics in the public sector are major causes of corruption. It turns out that, due to the prevailing situation, many civil servants fall prey to bribery, favours and gifts for self-enrichment which, in a nutshell, are defined as corruption. However, Noa responded that these could be the reason or excuse for corruption to be committed in the first place. “Government is there to address the needs of public servants. Corruption is not only by way of doing, but by even omitting to do something. Failure to perform is corruption. Therefore, corruption should be viewed in a wider context,” added Noa. In essence, corruption is a criminal offence – which not only affects the economy, but also negatively deprives the majority of people of the very resources that could have helped them to develop in the first place. Instead, millions of dollars fall into the hands of a few selfish people who use them for personal gain at the expense of the general public. Corruption is also said to be dynamic and therefore, those responsible for making anti-corruption laws and fighting the problem, should be abreast with the changing forms of corruption. Corruption can be initiated in one country and transacted in another. Therefore, it is imperative that all countries have anti-corruption measures in place that are in line with the SADC Protocol Against Corruption and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, in order to effectively fight the problem. “As you think 24 hours on how to eliminate corruption, the corruptors are also planning new ways on how to carry out their deed. That’s why it is a trans-national problem too,” said Noa. He stressed that there is no justification to defend corruption, whether it be from an ordinary citizen or those in high positions. With the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission beginning this year, Namibia has existing laws in place to deal with the problem, including the Prevention of Organized Crime Act.