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29 June 2012 | Kamalpreet Badasha
The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) has recommended that Namibia introduce an Audit Law to make it easier to identify and punish corrupt public individuals and authorities.
The Risking Corruption – regional and local governance in Namibia report from the not-for-profit organisation details anti-corruption proposals covering accountability, financial management and ethical conduct.
It said misconduct is rife in tenders for public procurement, with officials favouring companies linked to family members or associates. It details 48 cases reported by national papers relating to local governance problems in the country since 2005. Long-term media attention would help act as a deterrent, it said, but the newspapers that first report local authority corruption stories eventually lose interest.
The decentralisation of procurement from central government to local authorities, which has been taking place over the past few decades, requires stricter regulation, the IPPR suggests. For example, the local authority tender boards, which consist of officials overseeing public procurement, are flawed, because appointments allow for favouritism. A procurement bill expected to be tabled this year should address the issue.
The IPPR said increased accountability is required. For financial management it advocates the use of audits and increased governance of councils by the Ministry of Local and Regional Government. It proposes that the Anti-Corruption Commission examine audit reports to ensure there are no discrepancies. It also suggests the introduction of an Audit Bill to help identify problems and enable punitive action be taken against authorities and individuals.
In terms of ethical conduct, the report recommends the mandatory implementation of the Code of Conduct for Regional Councillors. The code covers issues relating to governance including the prohibiting of bribes for council officials. It states that there should be a Register of Councillors’ Interests available for public view and suggests the appointment of an ethics commissioner to encourage the public scrutiny of information.