The 9th of December was designated by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Anti-Corruption Day following the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the United Nations Assembly in its Resolution of 31 October 2003. The Convention was opened for signature in Merida, Mexico from 9 – 11 December 2003 where more than 120 countries including Namibia met for the signing conference. The day also brings nations together to reflect jointly on this scourge that transverses national borders, with a view to promote and facilitate international cooperation.
More than 80 invited guests from the Parliament, diplomatic corps, law-enforcement, civil society, Non-Government organisations, media, public and private sectors attended the Anti-Corruption Seminar held at NIPAM.
Advocate Erna van der Merwe, Acting-Director General of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), opened the event and emphasised the ACC’s commitment against corruption. Over the past 10 years the ACC has successfully build up a formidable investigation unit. “This of course sends a very strong message to the Namibian public to remain from participating in corrupt practices,” said Advocate van der Merwe. She added that the ACC will continue to promote the sustenance of the unit by equipping the investigating officers with the most up to date forensic and over tools as well as by exposing them through training to the latest investigation techniques.
Ms Izumi Morota-Alakija, Deputy Resident Representative of the the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), urged the nation to join hands to prevent corruption. According to her, if corruption is left unchecked, it will have serious obstacles to sustainable development and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.
The Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi, advised the African nations to stand together against corruption. “Corruption manifests itself in many forms and has been responsible for the destruction of many livelihoods and plenty of the world’s resources in a way of mismanagement for selfish interest”, he stated.
The Speaker highlighted that the Parliament's contribution in the fight against corruption in Namibia is mainly in the form of legislative and policy measures. He emphasised that in order to stand against corruption every country should have objectives of prevention, detection, punishment and eradication of corruption. “The fight against corruption is not a simple one, but in order to combat corruption in the public service, it should involve establishment of codes of conduct for public officials, declaration of wealth as well as disciplinary measures against public officials,” he concluded.
Advocate Steven Powell, the Forensics Executive of the Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs Incorporated in South Africa, embraced Hon. Katjavivi’s speech. According to him the only way to fight against corruption is for all nations to work together and for Namibia to consider incorporating the anti-bribery in their organisations such as South Africa succeeded to implement it. Incidents of bribery have increased, along with the general awareness of anti-bribery compliance among organisations. Advocate Powell said that corruption occur in different forms, but definitions of corruption are mostly focused on government officials, whereas the private sectors also bribe the government.
Powell advised that corruption can be eradicated through International Anti-Corruption Conventions, implementing national legislation by forcing companies to put proactive measures in place to address corruption risks and by internal controls, ethics and compliance programmes. Professor Joseph Diescho, the Executive Director of NIPAM stressed that most of the times we get lost in the definition of corruption as well as its concept because the rules are not clear therefore the challenge to prevent corruption is not easy.
Professor Diescho added that Namibia needs strong enforcement laws so that people can understand the concept of corruption.