Scourge of Corruption Must be Tackled Head On

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Doreen Sioka, urged African legislators to be exemplary and to continuously strive to eliminate the scourge of corruption that heavily strips livelihood from the poor, the women and the vulnerable children. “The poor are becoming poorer, especially the marginalized. Then there are those who are filthy rich. We cannot continue to preach Anti-Corruption when, indeed, our own dealings are not transparent and we continue to be involved in transactions that present conflicts of interests,” said Sioka. The Deputy Speaker said this when she officially closed the three-day Regional Parliamentary Conference Against Corruption in the capital yesterday. In light of the growing challenge of corruption in both the public and private sectors, SADC Members of Parliament have to restore the trust and confidence in public institutions in line with the principle of good governance. There is concern that if corruption is not tackled head on, it could ultimately lead a “sick generation with no morals or ethical values to guide us,” she added. In view of this, Sioka urged that the outcome of the just-ended MP’s Regional Conference against corruption must not merely be a “talk show” but be carried out in practice on the ground. “The public out there are hungry for more and more action and not just words and empty promises…We should therefore not be complacent that we have Anti-Corruption bodies and adequate laws to deal with corruption in our countries, but should be more concerned with the output,” said Sioka. At the end of the three-day deliberations, the African parliamentarians at the conference came up with a communiquÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© in which they made a declaration to stand by and fight against corruption. The communiquÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© raised concern about how corruption negatively impacts on development, governance and the general livelihood of Africans. It was also acknowledged that corruption has seriously affected marginalized groups in societies, particularly the poor, women and children. The communiquÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© noted the role and responsibilities which parliamentarians play in making laws that would ensure that the SADC Protocol Against Corruption is implemented. Declaration was also made that laws should be enacted that protect whistleblowers and promote access to information and transparency in governance. However, all of these can only be possible if all stakeholders – local, regional and international networks – against corruption work together on a common goal. “Create partnerships between parliaments, the SADC Parliamentary Forum with local, regional and international networks on anti-corruption, anti-corruption agencies, civil society and the media,” the communiquÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© reads. Twenty-seven MP’s from 11 Parliaments participated in the recently-concluded conference. Besides Namibia, these MPs came from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.