Speakers at the ongoing National Anti-Corruption Conference have spoken extensively on the role of the media to curb corruption as well as legislation needed to ensure the scourge of corruption is subdued and eliminated.
Statistics provided by Prosecutor General, Martha Imalwa, indicate that public servants are the ones most implicated when it comes to corruption. Imalwa revealed that from 2007 to 2014 there were 562 corruption related cases referred to her office. Of those cases, 344 of the cases referred to her office emanated from the public service, 40 parastatals and 82 private persons.
The PG expressed concern over the fact that employers, especially in the public service, delay the disciplinary hearing of corrupt officials/employees pending the outcome of a criminal case against such official/employee.
“Swift disciplinary hearings should be instituted as soon there is an act of misconduct with corrupt connotations. Disciplinary hearings should not be dependent on the outcome of a criminal case because criminal trials take long,” said Imalwa. Regarding the media’s role when it comes to combatting corruption, Namibia Media Trust chairperson, Gwen Lister, believes some of the steps that can be taken to facilitate the role of media in fighting corruption include the adoption of a freedom of information law after a process of widespread consultation with media and other stakeholders.
She also highlighted the importance of public servants declaring their interests.
“A clear commitment to transparent and open government, not just by the President, but all state players, by declaring their own interests, and also to unequivocally recognise the vital role of media in fighting the scourge,” she said.
Lister also pointed out the need for more investment in journalism training to ensure enhanced standards of professionalism in the media, adherence to codes of conduct and support for self-regulation.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi, highlighted importance of a legal framework for government operations that ensures that procurement processes are transparent, efficient and accountable.
“Public sector procurement is often very vulnerable to corruption,” said Katjavivi.
Several bills have been proposed to parliament in recent years to give more legitimacy to the work of the Anti-Corruption Commission such as the, Public Procurement Bill, Access to Information Bill, Whistle-blowers Protection Bill and the Witness Protection Bill.