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New Era Newspaper Friday September 1, 2017

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14 thought leaders

14 thought leaders Friday, September 1 2017| NEW ERA Is Namibia Corrupt? In his inaugural address as second president of the Republic President Pohamba made a personal declaration of war against corruption. Whether he had lived up to this declaration is no longer the issue. What is important is to make three acknowledgements in the national interest. First, we have to accept that when president Pohamba made the declaration in the 15th year of our Republic, something must have driven him to this point, since he was neither an outsider nor a member of the opposition. Pohamba was at pains to tell the world in his first statement as president that corruption was a cancer eating away at the nation’s well being. He must have known of something that had gone on in the first 15 years of self-rule when he was a minister holding various portfolios. Pohamba made the pledge to the world: “As before, there will be zero tolerance for waste and corruption in public life. I, therefore, make a solemn pledge to you my compatriots, and fellow citizens that I shall set a personal example.” The context that time was that several presidential commissions were tasked to investigate matters of corruption, yet they yielded no fruit. In fact, so far only one such report, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Ministry of Health and Social Services under Minister Richard Kamwi was published. President Geingob did not mention corruption in his inaugural speech, but dwelt somewhat on corruption in his first and most memorable State of the Nation Address in April 2015, when he said, inter alia: “According to Transparency International, Namibia has remained one of the least corrupt countries in the world. It is important for public officials, to take note that corruption, in any form, whether it is a kickback, commission or any other benefit in the regular execution of duty is unacceptable. “Private sector should also take note that by paying a bribe, it perpetuates and entrenches the very corruption it laments. As a rulesbased Nation, we must capacitate and allow our institutions such the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Namibian police and our courts to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption without fear or favour.” By way of state and the official pronouncements thus far, one sees only that there is no corruption in Namibia’s officials of state and government is free of corruption, save in the definitions that are in the Constitution and standards of all anti-graft laws and all precepts and requirements of good corporate governance. It would also appear that Afrikan political leaders, with a very few exceptions, do not see corruption in the same manner as the world and people see it. Afrikan leaders have their own notion of corruption, which exempts them because they are the leaders and any mention of their ill-gotten wealth is in their opinion anti-peace and antistability talk. Namibia 27 years after independence is right where most of Afrika has been and still is: namely the unfortunate reality that good people, once in power, become more greedy and begin to take from the national wealth a great deal, then baptise it private property or private this and private that. This reality makes it difficult for good citizens to have normal and objective conversations about the growth of corruption within our state and public sectors because any discussion will point to very high officials who are involved in dealings of corruption. In the end people are labeled against the leader or against the government and the consequences are often dire retribution. Before we point fingers, let us agree on some fundamental rules that shall guide our conversation. First, that Namibia has done very well in managing corruption thus far, thanks to the political leadership we have had. Second, human nature is such that corruption and greed can never be eradicated, no matter how well intentioned we sound, just as it is not possible to eradicate poverty (by 2025), however committed we so are. Third, most of the consternation in our debates about corruption has nothing to do with corruption as such, but other ills in our body politic, such as incompetency, maladministration, malpractice, theft and various forms of abuse of power. One must also hasten to put the record straight that corruption is not an exclusive province of Afrikan leaders or black people. Cupidity is a disease that is part of the human existentialist experience as we scramble for more safety and security over others. This moves over to greed, power and influence. What makes the Afrikan version of cupidity worse is the tendency of those who have influence and power to exact inconvenience on others. Other civilisations have their own share of managing corruption better than most African nations, but corruption there is in all societies where people compete for the same survival based upon the instinct of self-preservation and survival. What is corruption? Many of us tend to all kinds of behaviour that causes bad experience at the hands of public servants as corruption. There are many instances of bad practices that are not part of the fibre of corruption, but are conducts of malfeasance, misfeasance, maladministration, malpractice and sheer theft—all of which could be part of a dysfunctioning system. Malfeasance is the wrongdoing when an official who handles public affairs takes graft or violates trust. Misfeasance is the wrongdoing when an official does a lawful act in an unlawful manner, so that there is an infringement on the rights of others. Maladministration is the wrongdoing of administering public affairs in a manner that violates the original intention of the process at hand. Malpractice is the wrongdoing when unprofessional conduct leads to injury of others, like when a medical doctor is guilty of wrong prescriptions or neglect of patients, which leads to misconduct. Theft is the illegal taking of something that is not offered. The word corruption derives from the Latin word corruptus, (verb: corrumpere), meaning the degeneration of something from the original state of well being to where it is no longer as good as it used to be, the deterioration of something from a sound condition to an unsound condition. A fruit gets corrupted when left to decay in the scorching sun, and its looks and shape will show that it is no longer what/how it was before it got to the state of corruptedness. It means therefore that something, in order to be corrupt, must have been in a purer and more perfect state before. In the context of the ongoing discussions on the subject, corruption has been defined invariably as the use of public office for personal gain in one way or the other, directly or indirectly. It is a two-way activity – one offers and the other accepts. One demands and another complies, even with the use of agencies as intermediaries. It is the practice of offering, giving, receiving, obtaining or collecting of a bribe or any advantage to influence action for the benefit one’s own or related parties. It is also the abuse of public office or entrusted power for private gain. Examples of corrupt behavior are: bribery, fraud, including tax evasion, embezzlement of resources, public or other, extortion from or of coercion of vulnerable persons to pay, influence peddling - such as party financing during national elections in exchange for influence or protection, abuse of position or authority for personal benefit, facilitation of payments or services with kickbacks for the facilitator, intervening to influence tender or prosecutorial processes on behalf of a person who is induced to pay a token of appreciation in return, formal stopping or concealing of statutory investigations when findings are seen not to favour a particular outcome, changing of rules in aid of advancing a particular outcome or preferred result from a process, and using access to information to influence outcomes of deals in order to derive benefit or cause to benefit, such as under-invoicing using insider information for personal gain. One way of measuring whether a country is corrupt is by looking at the costs of what is on the ground: corruption, undoubtedly, has a negative effect on economic growth and the moral fiber of any society or organization. Corruption causes the system to be unpredictable and untransparent and can thus not promote justice. Corruption leads to excessive high expenditure. Corruption leads to personalised fights in the system and renders the national system unable to defend and protect the innocent. Corruption creates a culture of the law of the jungle wherein the fittest survives. Corruption leads to loss of faith and confidence in public institutions and law enforcement agencies such as the police. Corruption leads to a national political culture where the leaders are arrogant, defensive in their conduct with the preconceived and aloof and unable to respond to the issues affecting the people, as the leaders no longer work for the people, but only serve themselves in the name of the people. Corruption is when people get appointed to positions that everybody knows the appointee does not possess the competency to do the job, but everyone is compromised to say that it is not right, the result of which is to sacrifice the common good and national development. If we accept the legal definition of corruption as the use of public office for personal gain in one way or the other, directly or indirectly – even with the use of agencies as intermediaries to process the exchange of material goods that one would not have had if one was not in such an office for the benefit one’s own or family, we have all the signs to assert that Namibia is corrupt, from top to bottom. Consider the following factors and gauge whether they pass the smell test of official corruption: many Cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament get into business after they are sworn in as people’s representatives, thus gaining access to loans and bonds to buy farms, properties and even own shebeens that they would otherwise not qualify for; appointed regional governors and highly placed heads of parastatals dabble in real estate business and other activities, where they rely on their corruptors, often Chinese partners, who do the work at the expense of the Namibian electorate; spouses and children of government officials ride on the reputations of their honourable spouses to access loans and land; foreign scholarships for children for state officials and mini- Nkandlas in the regions belonging to ministers, MPs and permanent secretaries. In democracies where leaders are not only expected to be clean, but are expected to be seen to be clean, such shenanigans would not be tolerated. In Namibia, these are not signs of corruption, and to point them out is a sign of being unpatriotic and disloyalty to the liberation struggle, thus deserving of condemnation and vilification. What exciting times we live in!

Friday, September 1 2017| NEW ERA thought leaders 15 August 26, 1966: Its relative link to slums in Namibia On the 26th of August 1966, Namibia – through Swapo – officially launched its armed liberation struggle to free the nation from the South African colonial regime. The aim was to ensure that anyone who lived in the country enjoyed unfettered peace, economic prosperity, security and stability. The country’s natural mineral resources were to be at the centre of all this. The armed liberation struggle lasted for over 21 years within which many sons and daughters sacrificed their lives for their motherland to be free from social injustice, racial discrimination and segregation. With that sense of patriotism Namibia eventually emerged victorious with the attainment of its national independence on the 21st of March 1990. This year’s Heroes Day were held last Saturday in Oshana Region – another occasion where we needed to reflect on how history has helped shape Namibia into what it is today. While recognising the positives, let’s also not forget to cite the plight of those finding themselves in miserable living conditions which, if not aggressively addressed and reversed, could become a permanent sight and state for many generations to come. In that historic context and link, it is hence my patriotic view that the current situation of large-scale informal settlements that have mushroomed across the country is a national disgrace, a shame and an insult to all those whose blood waters our freedom. This sad state of affairs hence signals a complete systematic failure of leadership, especially for a nation with a mere population of less than 2.5 million people and our impregnable history of solidarity. Historically, Namibians have always been their brothers’ keepers. Namibians deserve a lot better living conditions than the raw deal they are facing today. In this simple but highly complex situation no one else is to blame than the lukewarm political approach that is without any sense of urgency being used against the welfare and progress of the people. In this regard, I would like to highlight two major contributing factors that in my view have led the nation to this despicable state of affairs whereby present day politicians do not even seem to have any tangible solutions. Firstly, party politics post-independence sadly divided the nation based on political loyalty, patronage and eventual tribal clusters to such an extent that national issues such as the fast-tracking of large-scale land servicing and distribution, inclusive of an absence of a nationalistic wealth redistribution policy for the welfare of the majority of the citizens, was no longer a priority. This sad development resulted in Namibians losing determined national political champion(s) or leader(s) to drive the land and wealth redistribution issue as was supposed to be based on our history. At this juncture it is important to note that Namibians were pre-independence led by Dr Sam Nujoma through unity of purpose to liberate the country but we dispersed into various political units where the vision of nation building eventually disappeared due to a lack of strong political will to such an extent that everybody started looking after their own interest and political survival. This sad political leadership vacuum eventually led to many citizens grabbing land in many urban areas. Secondly, the absence of a national domestic sectoral industrialization drive that could lead to mass employment opportunities upon which many citizens could earn a decent living wage has exacerbated the situation. Namibia, despite have a Vision 2030 industrialization plan, has not seriously looked at directly investing in large-scale manufacturing areas in which Namibians as a nation could easily venture into, such as the manufacturing of products for government institutions such as for schools, the army, police force, nurses, hospitals, in products such as furniture, uniforms, beds, bed sheets, curtains, benches, welding. The government could have also contributed significantly to the agricultural sector whereby directives could be issued whereby all government institutions such as schools, army, hospitals, police force procure all or most (at least 70%) of their poultry and basic agricultural products such as onions, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, including daily products such as milk, strictly from local sources. This directive could have incentivized large-scale local investment in the agricultural sector as a guaranteed market is secured due to the directive. So, despite huge potentials in the abovementioned production areas, the country is still importing largescale basic industrial essentials which could have easily been manufactured locally. This sad situation hence perpetuates Namibia as a consumption country with no clear intentions to manufacture anything of significance for domestic building. This lack of a large-scale industrialization initiative continues to contribute to low wages in the domestic economic system leading many to opt for informal settlement. In conclusion, Namibia based on its strong history and preindependence determination, was never supposed to have informal settlements especially at the scale and scope that it is in currently. These settlements are certainly degrading, totally inhuman and an insult to many voters who despite their loyalty to the ruling party still find themselves in these despicable living conditions. The nation needs to revert back to its initial goals of creating an environment that will propel prosperity for all and a dignified living standard. * Pendapala Hangala is a Namibian Socio-Economist. Can Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma give voters enough reason to head to the polls come 2019? tephen Grootes kosazana Dlamini-Zuma does ot appear to be a natural political ampaigner. She has very little ime for glad-handing, or speaking o the media, or even answering uestions. Unlike Deputy President yril Ramaphosa, who takes on the ssues of the day directly (corruption, he #GuptaLeaks, the economy), lamini-Zuma tends to avoid them. n Tuesday she refused to answer uestions from journalists, saying t was not a press conference. It’s a trategy unlikely to win her friends mong the urban-based media. But when she speaks at a podium, t is all about Radical Economic ransformation. About why white eople should not fear it, about why t is necessary to keep the peace in ur society, about why it is a historic mperative to change the ownership atterns and those who manage usinesses and own the JSE. She has ever spoken like this before. Generally speaking, in her iterations s African Union Commission Chair, ome Affairs Minister, Foreign ffairs Minister and Health Minister, lamini-Zuma has not spoken much bout the economy. One should emember that during the Mbeki era, he only people who ever mentioned he economy were Thabo Mbeki imself, and Trevor Manuel. It was ot the kind of open issue that it is ow. All of this indicates that she is doing this either because she believes all of the ANC policy she helped to implement in the past was wrong, or because it is useful to her campaign. There can be no doubt that this issue is an indicator to people in the ANC of which side she is on. If someone uses the phrase, they generally support Zuma, if they talk about “inclusive growth” they’re more likely to be on the Ramaphosa side of things. This is why Malusi Gigaba does so much tap-dancing and uses both phrases interchangeably. But, for general ANC members, those in the branches in both urban and rural areas, Dlamini-Zuma’s message is also about change. Considering our racialised inequality and the rural/ urban divide, it has the potential to be a powerful message. Imagine for a moment that you are one of Ramaphosa’s advisers. How do you counter it? By saying that a vote for him is to keep things as they are? So, if Dlamini-Zuma were to be able to win in December, what would happen next, how would this message fare around the country, among the people who actually have to vote, and decide whether the ANC continues in power or some other formation takes over? In these discussions there is often a simplistic notion that the poor will always want to eat the rich, that as a result of there being more poor people than rich people the ANC will stay in power, and the middle classes, and particularly white people, will go to the wall. There are massive problems with this analysis. It presumes that the economy is the only issue, and that the vast majority of the country will simply swallow the notion that the rich must be eaten. Voters are more complicated than that. The ANC has consistently positioned itself as the guardian of the poor, and with less and less success. Last year’s local elections show that in urban areas, people don’t buy it as easily as they used to. They have become cynical about this message. With good reason. For this message to work, the Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma ANC would also have to ensure that the economy was the only issue. In many democracies, this is effective, as Bill Clinton’s adviser James Carville said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” But, generally speaking, a slowing economy leads to political change. It is the party in opposition that benefits, and the party in power that suffers. In other words, voters may hear the message of “RET”, but also know that it’s coming from the same green, gold and black colours that have led to the current economic situation. This makes it a much harder message to sell. It also should not be presumed that the opposition will be standing still. They will try very hard to make the main issue about corruption. Should Dlamini-Zuma win, and President Jacob Zuma himself stay on in the Union Buildings after December, the scandals will only continue. In fact, they’ll probably just reproduce. This would mean that the only way not to have corruption become the major issue of the election would be to control the media. Suddenly, the people who run the SABC will become important again. But the staff at the SABC have become proficient in finding ways to push back against people like Hlaudi Motsoeneng. The independent media, despite declining revenues, is unlikely to die in just two years. Corruption scandals will continue to seep through to voters. Then there is the issue of land, and land restitution. There is no doubt of this issue’s power but until recently there has been no wide-scale hunger for radical action there. The ANC government has demonstrated how low on the list of priorities this has been by the amount of money given over to land restitution. And while Julius Malema may claim otherwise, his manifesto of land expropriation without compensation has not won him power in any part of the country. So, while it may appear obvious that just this issue alone could win an election, the evidence suggests that is actually quite slim. - Daily Maverick

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New Era Newspaper Vol 22 No 167

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