Thus far the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has stopped short of intervening in the issue of the N$24 million from the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) that supposedly should have been used for the marketing and promotion of Namibia as tourist destination, in tandem with the now aborted Kora All Africa Music Awards. The now disgraced awards ceremony was to take place in Namibia in March.
What this means is that until the Ministry of Environment and Tourism shows cause differently, there is no suspicion of corruption.
Whether there has been corruption or not in this matter, is a matter of conjecture because either way nothing has been proven or may be proven as yet. However, there’s no denying that the matter somehow smacks of some improprieties that ordinarily must be subject to an investigation by the ACC.
In the first place the ACC does not necessarily investigate prima facie cases of corruption but investigates any seeming improprieties, to come to the bottom of the truth. This truth being whether there is a case of corruption or not depending on what the Anti-Corruption Act defines as corrupt acts or activities.
The bottom line for now is that the ACC has given the Ministry the benefit of the doubt. In fact, this is in line with the Anti-Corruption Act of 2003 according to which the functions of the ACC are, among others (a) “to receive or initiate and investigate allegations of corrupt practices”; and (b) “to consider whether investigation is needed in relation to an allegation, and if so, whether the matter should be referred to any other appropriate authority for investigation or action.”
Whether in terms of the Act, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism is “any other appropriate” authority, especially in terms of further investigating the matter, is open to interpretation.
As much whether also it is the “appropriate authority” to take further action? Granted, yes, that the Ministry as an oversight body to the NTB, which is at the centre of the missing millions, it is proper that it is given the benefit of the doubt to further follow up the matter. But the flip side of this is can the Ministry, being part of the NTB, not be seen to be a judge in its own cause or is this principle of natural justice not applicable to this case and the institutions in question in this regard?
But be that as it may, many a time I have always been of the opinion that time and again the ACC has been called upon to intervene in investigating matters that ordinarily may not fall within the realm of matters relating to graft that it can and must investigate. One has seen matters that are purely administrative in nature, and thus resulting in one or the other administrative omission or oversight, being referred to the ACC for investigation, while administrative rules and regulations are loud and clear how the higher echelons within such an administrative body should and could deal with any transgression in this regard. Some of the matters have also purely been due to maladministration, and thus ordinarily within the realm of the Ombudsman. Yet more often than not the ACC has been dealing with such. As a result its valuable time and meagre resources have been seeming to be expended, if not altogether expended, on matters that any other authority may properly have dealt with, as the case may be with the latest case of the missing millions of the NTB.
As much as the Ministry is now dealing with the matter, one cannot help but wonder if the matter may have seen daylight, or the Ministry may have eventually dealt with it, as it is now doing, had it not been for the media and other whistle-blowers, let alone the intervention of the ACC?
Because surely there must be many cases out there which may not have come to the attention of either the media or the authorities that be but would never ever come to light, let alone those in charge shall never pretend to deal with in the absence of other whistle-blowers and the media. Therefore, one cannot but wait and see if the said internal mechanisms with regard to the N$24 million saga would ever bear fruit.