Authorities Drag Feet on Corruption Cases – Survey

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By Wezi Tjaronda

WINDHOEK

Although the Namibian media reported on more corruption cases in 2006/7 than between 2004 and 2006, authorities are not acting on most of them, a survey has found.

The survey found that the number of cases that the media reported on jumped from 92 cases in 2004/6 period to 240 cases in the 2006/7 survey period.

The number of articles generated from these cases also increased from 682 in 2004/6 to 709 articles from 2006/7 period. During the 1990/2004 period, the media produced 83 articles from 31 cases per year.

These are findings of a Namibia Institute for Democracy (NID) publication “Actual Instances of Corruption as Reported in the Namibia Print Media, 2006-2007”, which was launched yesterday.

The publication, which forms part of the organisation’s zero tolerance for corruption campaign aims at identifying trends in the occurrence of corruption and in the print media’s reporting on actual corrupt cases.

Graham Hopwood, project manager for the Public Dialogue Centre at NID, said, “The media is doing its part of the deal although the authorities showed disinterest in acting on these cases.”

The survey said the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) received 686 complaints about corruption in 2006, of which 85 were closed because of lack of evidence or because the allegations were unfounded, while another 145 cases were passed on to other authorities.

The ACC did not take action against 259 cases because they either fell under the jurisdiction of other authorities or because other authorities were already taking action, said Hopwood in the report.

Of the 686 cases, five were consolidated with others, while 192 were carried over to 2007.

Last year, the ACC received 831 complaints.

Hopwood said in terms of the 2006/7 cases, it showed that the anti-corruption agency took on 192 cases but either rejected or passed on 489 cases.

“This study found that the print media reported on 240 cases from April 2006 to March last year. This indicates that the media, which almost certainly did not report on all the complaints taken up by the ACC covered many other cases that were being investigated by other authorities, had been uncovered directly by the media, or were old cases that were being reported on because of continuing delays and inaction,” he added.

He explained the reason for the increase in the reporting as being the pubic interest that was created after the Avid/Social Security Commission (SSC) scandal and the launch of the Anti-Corruption Commission. Hopwood said the media has become more energetic and focussed by covering a far greater range of cases in the last survey period.

The Namibian newspaper generated the highest number of articles (247) followed by the Republikein (192) and New Era with 114. The Namibia Economist had the greatest share of the articles published on the front page with 58 percent, followed by the Namibian, which had 53 percent while New Era came third with 43 percent. Informante had 35.6 percent while the Republikein published 32 percent of the corruption articles on the front page.

On average, the survey found that 41 percent of the corruption articles were carried on the front page.

Some of the 27 main agencies cited in the publication that were involved in corruption cases include the Social Security Commission, Avid Investment, the police, TransNamib, Hardap Regional Council, Offshore Development Company, Ministry of Justice, Roads Construction Company, Northland, Namibia Broadcasting Corporation, University of Namibia, Swapo Youth League, Namibia Development Corporation, City of Windhoek and Namibia Liquid Fuels.

The types of agencies involved were mainly parastatals, the private sector, followed by government ministries, local authorities, police and prisons, regional councils, political parties and tertiary education institutions.

The survey found that 49 percent of the cases were embezzlement of funds, followed by abuse of power, which had 26 percent. Of the corruption cases reported on, 84 percent had charges laid while in 72.7 cases the suspects pleaded not guilty, 16.7 pleaded guilty and 10 percent pleaded ignorance.

The verdict has not been reached yet on 76.9 of the cases, 18.8 percent were found guilty, 2.4 percent were innocent and 1.8 percent settled out of court.

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