By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Smaller and seemingly insignificant instances of corruption should also be seen as dangerous in society, as they could have an accumulative effect, just as much as the bigger cases. Contributing to the recently-published book “Tackling Corruption – Opinions on the Way Forward in Namibia”, the Executive Director of Women’s Action for Development, Veronica de Klerk, wrote in her chapter “Citizen’s Responsibility” that every Namibian must join government in fighting corruption in all its guises. “One should not just think of great anti-corruption schemes, since the smaller and ostensibly insignificant versions of the same malpractice can have a cumulative effect, which can eventually amount to substantial losses,” said De Klerk. The danger in the latter, she added, lies within its unobtrusive appearance, which usually discourages the observer from taking steps as it may look like pettiness. Some of the petty corrupt tendencies are tax-evasion, misuse of government vehicles, doing private work during official hours, receipt of financial benefits in exchange for favours from government officials, and cheating in public examinations. De Klerk also points out that civil society is now beginning to realize its watchdog function in fighting corruption. “Since independence, the government has had to deal with a multitude of challenges to normalize life for all Namibians, and many aspects of this work are still to be completed. One of the matters calling for a forceful and a continued programme of action is civil education that would inculcate a keen sense of responsibility in civil society.” During the previous years, the mentality of “us against them” among people would cause many of them not to blow the whistle on fellow oppressed citizens. “In fact, it was widely known in the previous dispensation that an oppressed person stealing from the oppressor – individual, corporate or government – and not being caught out, revealed skilfulness and ingenuity,” stated De Klerk. She believes people’s mindsets must now change and join government in the bandwagon in the fight against corruption, especially the youth. “As a firm believer in a better tomorrow with our present-day youth as the players on that stage, I believe much work should be done among them to establish values and civil responsibilities, which may shape a promising future,” she noted. The cancer of corruption in the public sector, according to De Klerk, can only be curbed with great resolve and commitment from all stakeholders, namely: government, the general public, the private sector and civil society. Yet the best way to deal with corruption head-on is to address this malaise from what she termed “the cradle of the new generation”. “Parental homes, schools, churches, youth movements and sports clubs provide important contact occasions with young people. Such contacts should be exploited to establish core values in the new generation.” Fighting corruption should therefore otherwise become “a way of life”, where parents can nurture this in the minds of children. “Women’s Action for Development (WAD) are calling on all parents in the country to assertively join this national drive to combat corruption, by sensitizing their children to respect values and norms that would give birth to a future civilization that would spurn corruption,” stressed Dr Klerk. From this view, every Namibian should now be mobilized to stop corruption dead in its tracks, while steps should also taken to address the root causes of this social cancer. WAD also called for more attention to be placed on incompetent government officials who reportedly only collect their salaries for which they do not perform efficiently. She concluded with a number of measures that could be taken to tackle corruption, namely: the introduction of heavy fines meted out against those found guilty of corruption, more public anti-corruption rallies, as well as anti-corruption slogans which could be used on trendy clothes.
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