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Namibia - Corruption

On 13 November 2019, two Namibian government ministers resigned following allegations of corruption and money-laundering in the Namibian fishing industry. Bernhard Esau, minister of fisheries and marine resources, and justice minister Sacky Shanghala were accused of receiving bribes in return for giving preferential access to Namibia's rich fishing grounds to Samherji, one of Iceland's largest fishing companies. Esau and Shanghala stepped down "following press and media reports in which allegations of corruption have been made against" them, presidential spokesman Alfredo Hengari said in a statement.

From 2012 Samherji made payments to businesses associated with Shanghala worth close to $10m, the Al Jazeera investigation found. Shanghala had a swift ascent in Namibian politics, from being the chairman of the Law Reform and Development Commission, to being the country's attorney general until becoming justice minister. The well-connected politicians appear to have fixed a bilateral fishing agreement with neighbouring Angola in order to provide Samherji with greater access to Namibian fishing quotas.

The Anti-Corruption Act of 2003 created an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which began operations in 2006. The ACC attempts to complement civil societyís anti-corruption programs and support existing institutions such as the Ombudsman's Office and the Office of the Attorney General. Anti-corruption legislation is in place to combat public corruption. In a nationwide survey commissioned by the ACC and released in December 2011, corruption was listed at the second-most important development challenge facing Namibia (12.8 percent, after unemployment at 39.6 percent). Over half (54 percent) of survey respondents rated corruption as ďvery highĒ, although relatively few professed a personal experience with corruption.

According to the Namibian Anti-Corruption Commission, Public Services Commissioner Teckla Lameck, her Namibian business partner Kongo Mokaxwa, and Chinese National Yang Fan defrauded the government of 42 million Namibian dollars (approximately USD $4.22 million). The charge is in connection with the government's purchase of USD $55.3 million in X-ray scanning equipment from NucTech a Chinese company. Lameck and her co-defendants do not dispute receiving the money, but they argue the transaction was a commission for consulting services rendered to NucTech by their company Teko Trading.

In early February 2009, NucTech and Teko reportedly entered into a consultancy agreement. On February 27, two-and-a-half weeks later, the Ministry of Finance provided an advance payment of USD $12.8 million to NucTech for the X-ray scanners - an arrangement considered highly unusual for a GRN procurement. On March 11, NucTech paid Teko Trading USD $4.2M, although it is not clear what services were provided. The Chinese government provided a concessionary loan to fund most of the X-ray scanners, and President Hu Jintao's son Hu Haifeng was the CEO of NucTech when the Namibian government approved the deal.

Another 2009 corruption scandal, which involved high-level military officials and alleged Chinese conspirators, also generated significant media attention. The Chief of the Namibian Defense Force (NDF), Lieutenant General Martin Shalli, was suspended pending the completion of an investigation into an alleged fraud scheme where another (as yet unnamed) senior NDF officer facilitated the acquisition of an exploratory mining license. Press reports claimed a Chinese national paid USD $1 million to the senior NDF officer, who in turn transferred USD $250,000 to Shalli. Shalli reportedly facilitated the deal. Shalli allegedly placed his cut in a Zambian bank account under another person's name while he was serving as Namibia's High Commissioner in Lusaka.

Early speculation about Shalli's suspension was that it was instigated by SWAPO-party stalwarts who believed that the general was a closet sympathizer of the opposition party, Rally for Democracy Progress (RDP). Shalli had long been rumored to be an ally of RDP's Hidipo Hamutenya, and in recent months there have been calls from more radical elements within SWAPO (especially individuals connected to the SWAPO Party Youth League) to oust "non-loyal" party members from government. Public sentiment was generally supportive of Shalli, however, as he was considered a strong contributor to the liberation movement.

During 2015 the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) continued awareness campaigns and workshops for government officials, politicians, civil society organizations, church leaders, and schoolchildren on the dangers of corruption. Corruption: The ACC, Prosecutor Generalís Office, NamPol, Auditor Generalís Office, Financial Investigative Center at the Bank of Namibia, Public Service Commission, and Ombudsmanís Office are responsible for combating corruption. The ACC and the Ombudsmanís Office receive and investigate corruption complaints, often from the public. The Financial Investigative Center investigates and reports suspicious money transfers. The Public Service Commission investigates corruption complaints in the civil service hiring process. The Auditor Generalís Office also investigates corruption and turns cases over to the Prosecutor Generalís Office and NamPol for further investigation and criminal prosecution where appropriate. These organizations actively collaborated with civil society, conducted thorough investigations, and operated both effectively and independently.

The corruption trial of suspended magistrate Melanie Theron continued during 2015. Police finished their investigations of three employees of the Walvis Bay Magistrateís Court arrested in 2013 for allegedly soliciting illegal payments from motorists to cancel traffic tickets and arrest warrants. The prosecutor general referred their cases to the control prosecutor in Swakopmund for a decision on whether to prosecute, and the case remained with that office at yearís end.

In October 2015 the National Assembly adopted a parliamentary code of conduct requiring the annual declaration of financial interests. The adopted declaration form included a confidential portion to which the public will not have access. The National Council, the countryís upper house of parliament, already had a code of conduct and annually produced a register listing membersí financial interests. In May the president voluntarily published an accounting of his and his wifeís assets.

The law prohibits public employees from sharing information held by a government ministry without permission from the minister or permanent secretary of the ministry. No law provides for public access to government information, but media outlets generally found the government willing to provide information when requested.

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Page last modified: 17-11-2019 19:18:54 ZULU