Swakopmund – President Hage Geingob yesterday said he did not publicly declare his assets last year to impress anyone or be considered as the first African head of state to have undertaken such an exercise.
Geingob, in his attempt to inspire other public officials in the country, declared that he was worth about N$50 million in assets and hard cash.
First Lady Monica Geingos, one of the leading female business personalities in the country, also declared her assets.
She’s worth between N$45 million and N$60 million, according to an audit of the first family’s wealth by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Statutorily, neither the president nor his wife is obliged to declare their assets.
Members of parliament are required to declare their assets, an exercise meant to plug potential holes of conflict of interest within the public sector.
Yesterday Geingob said contrary to the belief of some, his declaration of assets was not a stunt to drum up his image or attract publicity.
He was speaking at the official opening of the four-day 6th Annual General Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa that started yesterday in Swakopmund.
The conference is attended by 80 delegates from Commonwealth African countries. The meeting is held under the theme “Practitioners exchanges peer-to-peer engagement in the fight against corruption.”
Delegates will share experiences and benchmark activities that have occurred in various member countries, it was stated yesterday.
Speaking at the occasion, Geingob said the first family’s public declaration of assets was born of a conviction that accountability and transparency are important for shared inclusive and sustained economic development, which in turn is required for poverty eradication.
“We have incorporated income and asset declarations as an annual target in the Harambee Prosperity Plan for all ministers and all senior servants,” he told those in attendance.
“However, we shouldn’t only think that Africa is corrupt but we should also acknowledge the significant achievement made by Africa,” the president said.
Asset declaration may result in increased media scrutiny but ultimately also address real or perceived conflict of interest, the president said.
“These efforts have been noticed and Namibia’s ranking on the Transparency International index rose with 10 points in one calendar year.”
“As we work towards a public sector which is accountable and transparent, we call for a private sector with same standards of accountability. For an act of corruption to take place there is always a corrupter and a corruptee, each as corrupt as the other,” Geingob observed.
According to the president the 2016 Transparency International report noted that there are developed countries that are perceived to be relatively corruption free, yet their firms engage and promote corrupt practices in developing countries.
Similarly, there are western countries which are anti-corruption warriors yet the proceeds of corruption of developing countries easily find a way into their financial systems, he said.
“We need to debunk the hypocrisy and double-speak that points to corruption as a largely developing-world, public-sector issue, as corruption is a manifestation of human greed that needs to be rooted out and exposed at all levels.”
He then explained that while all corruption is destructive, it is important to distinguish whether corruption is endemic or not.
“We aspire for a corruption-free society but we are mindful that in a society there will always be those who seek dishonest means of self-enrichment.”
“We will however enforce zero tolerance for corruption as isolated corruption, which if not dealt with, can quickly gain momentum and become systemic corruption,” said Geingob.