WINDHOEK – In a bid to continue government’s robust drive to wipe out corruption, President-Elect Dr Hage Geingob has urged the incoming 104 parliamentarians to register and declare their assets both to the presidency and the National Assembly to ensure transparency.
Namibian lawmakers last declared their assets to the National Assembly in 2009, a situation which has since left them vulnerable to accusations of acquiring assets dubiously or crafting laws in favour of their business interests or that of their cronies.
“The declaration of assets is an indicator of transparency and accountability, and if you do things legitimately then what do you have to hide? Accountability and transparency help to develop trust,” stated Geingob on Wednesday when he announced his executive team.
The team comprises of Geingob, Dr Nickey Iyambo as deputy president- designate, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amathila as prime minister-designate and Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah as deputy prime minister-designate.
Geingob did not suggest a timeframe during which new MPs should declare their assets.
“Transparency should be the guiding light because governance is a partnership of equals which works only in transparency and accountability,” he elaborated.
“We will see to it that the declaration of assets is done timeously, and it is not just a matter of filing it but we will interrogate the process and enquire how they got it [assets] as well as help where we can,” he added.
He noted that many a time lawmakers have been wrongly accused of acquiring their assets in a corrupt, underhanded manner. “Some ministers have children who admire them but then they are accused of being corrupt, which is not good. The only way to end this is by being transparent,” he said.
He said although corruption has not been entirely wiped out of the country “we continue to work on it and we are not joking when we talk of ending corruption.”
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Director General, Paulus Noa, previously said the absence of an asset declaration register for MPs has made his work difficult at times because when a need arises to investigate an MP, it becomes difficult if there are no records of their assets.
He called for the formulation of a law compelling lawmakers to register and declare their assets on a regular basis, claiming the graft body’s calls over the years for the asset declaration law have fallen on deaf ears.
Incumbent Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab also last year said parliament has on several occasions urged MPs to declare their assets but nothing has been forthcoming.
Some members of Cabinet have hidden behind the fact that they declare their assets to the appointing authority [the President] therefore they do not see the need to make a second declaration – to parliament.
When asked whether lawmakers are undermining the authority of the National Assembly by not declaring their assets, Gurirab answered: “To a certain extent yes, but someone must take the initiative and clarify whether cabinet ministers should declare their assets and interests both to parliament and the appointing authority.”