Last year, a councillor in one of the constituencies in the Omaheke Region went on NBC radio about the wholesale of communal land, which is state land, implicating traditional leaders in this corrupt act.
I alerted a colleague in the newsroom to further follow this matter up, which resulted in a confession by the said councillor. Such and similar acts of corruption have been rife in communal areas in the regions of Omaheke and Otjozondjupa.
As a corollary, this information and/or acts of corruption must also somehow have reached the ears of the traditional authorities that be, particularly those of the traditional leaders who may not have been implicated, and thus the chiefs of such authorities. More often than not, Namibian officialdom makes society believe that corruption is to become endemic to Namibia, or the red lights have not been flickering yet. Thus, often the excuse of high-ranking public officials rarely being called upon to account for any corrupt acts, and resultantly brought to book.
The councillor in question flatly denies ever implicating traditional leaders. This is despite the fact that the councillor’s voice was recorded on NBC, and thus there was clear evidence of his confessions.
The story ended there and then. To this day, the culprit traditional leaders have not only been basking in their ill-gotten kickbacks, which by now may also have evaporated in thin air, but they may as much be continuing with their corrupt acts unabated.
In a way, both the councillor and my colleague cannot but be accused of unwittingly conniving with corrupt leaders in our midst. This columnist is equally guilty for not being persistent and insistent on his reporter pursuing the story to its logical conclusion. Yours truly concedes that he should have advised his colleague to not take the councillor’s denial at face value but go a step further to verify the claims.
There is much expectation on the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to deal decisively with corruption, something, as a matter of fact, it has not been able to deal decisively with, close to 13 years now after the establishment of this office. But given our inimitable councillor, and his subsequent denial that he may have said what he said, and the lack of will and determination by members of the media, surely not much can be done against corruption. Not as long as this is left to the ACC alone, without the necessary cooperation from all individuals and instances in society – least the consciousness and conscientiousness of our councillors and traditional authorities.
Not while those implicated in the wholesaling communal land are the very custodians of this land, and it seems they are doing it without impunity, and/or even fear of prosecution, and against the very best wishes of their traditional communal subjects who themselves are in dire need of land.
Those at the helm of our traditional authorities, as much, should and must be women and men of high integrity and moral impeccability. However, it is disturbing and worrying that traditional authorities have been equally silent in the face of such wanton wholesale of the land they are custodians of.
A few, if any, traditional leaders uttered a word on such daylight robbery of the people’s land. One has yet to hear of or see any traditional leader, especially in the regions of Omaheke and Otjozondjupa, being brought to justice for these rife acts.
And as much as some of these traditional leaders are and have been well-known to their traditional leaders and their chiefs, supreme leaders and/or paramount chiefs, as may be the case.
The wholesaling of communal land is not the only rot infesting these traditional authorities. Illegal fencing and favouritism in the allocation of land to the most favoured, being friends and/or relatives, and to tribal and/or political darlings, is very much in vogue and increasingly a norm, only for the very same traditional authorities to quickly point to the corruption of others, especially on the local, regional and central level of government.
But believe it or not, the very same councillor who denied ever implicating traditional leaders in land wholesaling, repeated himself in the affirmative again only last month. And this time we have him on record. So, Dear Councillor, here we go again. The Whistleblower Protection Act and the Witness Protection Act were signed into law by the President last year, under which improper conduct can be disclosed. Needless to say, the said councillor, who is also a member of parliament, and thus instrumental in the passing of the two acts, is very much aware of them. Why she/he has been quiet about the traditional leaders, who have been selling land is only baffling? And how then can members of the public be expected to make use of the two acts, if lawmakers cannot? And if given this attitude, even among lawmakers, can the country realistically be expected to effectively combat corruption?