Last Friday’s landmark ruling in the marathon Avid-SSC case that has gone on for 14 years will have far-reaching implications for justice in Namibia. Positive implications, we hope.
Lately, our courts are swamped with criminal cases involving top officials – but many Namibians do not believe they would see justice being served in such matters.
The Avid ruling is likely to spark a paradigm shift in such perceptions going forward. The long-held belief that those that command power and influence in our society can get away with the metaphoric murder is slowly dwindling.
To the long list of Namibia’s problems such as unemployment, perennial droughts, crime and alcoholism, we can now add abuse of power as another burning issue.
Abuse of power has been at the centre of every corruption case involving top officials. It’s a crisis of monumental proportions – but whose reality is little known. It has become a cliché in our everyday conversation, so much we forget its real impact on society.
The Avid case epitomises the very meaning of abuse of power and influence. How an unknown company came to lay its hands on a massive N$30 million investment deal is anyone’s guess.
Only ‘connections’, political or otherwise, could get a company with no track record such a deal. We live in a country where people log into databases of political parties first before they approve a government tender or top job for individuals. It’s a circus!
In many places of our society, academic qualifications have been replaced by membership cards of political formations, while boardrooms have turned into turfs for manipulations for nefarious ends.
This calls for war. A war against corruption, fraud and all related evils. And the courts, which to their credit have maintained their independence, credibility and fearlessness, must be at the centre of this war as dispensers of justice.
We thus are excited to see signs that corruption would be dealt with, irrespective of who it involves. This is the Namibia we fought for and yearned to have and parade to the world as a shining example.
Government should thus decisively deal with the scourge of corruption, particularly by people of influence in society for the country to reach its good governance targets.
We must reduce corruption to the barest minimum – and this cannot be achieved if the systems protect the powerful and connected.
It goes without saying that the fight against corruption is a collective responsibility. From media to citizen whistle-blowers, the duty to weed out this evil rests on the shoulders of all and sundry.
But while that is true, the onus rests on our leaders to show commitment not just by word of mouth but to prosecute those who are found to be culpable of any corrupt practice.
Leaders have all the power and tools of trade in their hands but without them at the forefront of this battle, we can only watch the looting go on unabated until the second coming of Jesus!