’Pressurise Ministers to Declare Assets’

FOLLOWING the First Family’s asset declaration yesterday, commentators said the President should now pressurise ministers to do the same and punish those who fail to make their assets public.

University of Namibia senior lecturer Hoze Riruako and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) director, Graham Hopwood, commended the First Family for the disclosure.

Republican Party president Henk Mudge also commended the move, saying it will force ministers to do the same.

Riruako described the First Family’s move as worth emulating since it was done without external pressure, while Hopwood said the couple’s decision is highly commendable as it sets a precedent for transparency and is an example from the very top.

“It is possible for ministers to declare their assets. It does not mean everybody would be transparent. The President should put pressure on them and push them to declare. It is something they owe to themselves and the nation at large, to follow the law they claim to be protecting,” said Riruako.

He also said Geingob is the first president on the continent to declare his assets and this shows that he is definitely prepared to walk the talk. Riruako suggested that the practice should be extended to other sectors within the public domain to show the world how much the leaders are worth because Namibia lost a lot of foreign aid and bilateral relations because of its middle income category tag.

According to Hopwood, what is needed now is for a system of asset declaration to be formalised in law so that there should be a holistic system applying to the President, ministers, members of parliament and senior government officials.

Hopwood further said the National Assembly is currently devising a new system for parliamentarians’ asset declaration which is a very welcome development after many years of delays.

“The Public Service Act is very weak on this issue only requiring that public servants [should] inform seniors of any remunerative work being undertaken beyond official duties. This needs to be reformed,” said Hopwood.

He further said there is need for sanctions and punishment if parliamentarians or officials attempt to hide assets and interests from the public as this will stop public officials from trying to use fronts.

“For example, if an MP makes a false or misleading declaration they should face suspension or expulsion from the house,” he said.

Mudge said there are a lot of people using their power to accumulate wealth.

“At some stage, the only way to make this effective is for a forensic audit to be performed. There may be some people declaring that they only have a few assets while stacking away the bulk of their wealth in offshore accounts,” he said.

However, RDP presidential candidate Jeremiah Nambinga asked why Geingob did not declare his assets when he was Prime Minister.

“Why now? Why did he not do it before? He is not new having been a prime minister before. I just think it is interesting that he should be doing it now. Who is he trying to please?” asked Nambinga.

Mudge further said that if the time came for him to declare his public assets, he would do so without hesitation.

Source : The Namibian