By Alexactus T. Kaure
Two issues continue to dog the work of the country’s anti-corruption watchdog.
Space and personnel, says the Anti-Corruption Commission’s Director Paulus Noa, have been the main challenges since the inception of the ACC in 2006.
Even the cosy office space on the 12th floor of Frans Indongo Gardens, which commands an impressive view of the city, is neither enough for its staff of 23, nor is it appropriate for the work of the ACC, says the director.
Given the nature of its work and the sensitivity of the documents they keep, he says, the ACC needs a purposely and properly structured building with fortified rooms where sensitive documents can be stored.
As for now, all the sensitive documents are kept elsewhere and not at their office. He would not be drawn into saying where.
Noa says the ACC is still a small institution with only 10 investigating officers and given the nature and complexity of cases it has to deal with, this is a drop in the ocean.
One case can take a long time and a lot of manpower to investigate. The director says they sometimes have to call in the help of forensic experts to help with investigations, for example if they are trying to establish if handwriting is genuine or not.
And if such expertise is not available here then they have to look elsewhere across the border for assistance, and this also leads to unnecessary delays in investigations. He also says they do not want to rush cases because they want to make sure that cases are conclusively proved beyond doubt before they take further action.
However, Noa says that corruption is not just about investigating, it should also involve an element of education. Therefore, a new directorate of public education and crime prevention has been established and the ACC is busy recruiting people. Its main role would be to educate the public at large on the dangers and negative impact of corruption on the economy and society. He says cases of corruption affect mainly the poor and the young because they are deprived of much-needed resources to improve their lot.
Noa says he is happy with the level of support the ACC gets from the public and institutions. He wants the ACC to be seen and felt in all the corners of the country.
Asked about a specific success story thus far, the director argues that corruption is corruption whether big or small and they all must be fought tooth and nail. He, however, says that since the establishment of the ACC in 2006, there have not been major reported cases of corruption. And this, according to him, is enough proof that the ACC is having an impact – that big brother is watching.
Quizzed about the controversial Namibia Liquid Fuel deal, the director is firm that the deal conformed to all the tender and other policy requirements and there was no whitewashing in that case as some people insinuate.
The ACC, according to Noa, is going to have a very busy and hectic schedule this year. He says the Office of the President has been very cooperative and supportive and has handed all the relevant reports from previous Presidential Commissions of Inquiry to the ACC. And the ACC has now selected all those that merit investigation. It is also getting support from the Inspector General in terms of dockets.
Unfortunately, says Noa, new cases will suffer because the ACC wants to concentrate on the old reports that have been collecting dust over the past few years.