Venaani Wants Lawmakers’ Proxies Probed

If the declarations of assets and business interests of lawmakers are to yield the desired results, the state must devise ways to probe the proxies of lawmakers, who in most cases are smokescreens of their political masters in the private sector, DTA president McHenry Venaani has suggested.

In a wide-ranging interview with New Era on Wednesday, Venaani accused some lawmakers of declaring their assets and interests in a dishonest manner and promised that the group of DTA lawmakers will by the end of this month be ready to make public their interests.

“I expressed myself profoundly on several occasions on the issue of the erosion of fairness in the private sector because nearly every second politician participates in a business venture in which they are represented by proxies,” he said.

Venaani wants parliament to open the “web” by investigating proxies of MPs and to close the loopholes in the country’s laws that allow people to be used as proxies.

For too long now, lawmakers have disregarded the obligation to declare their assets as is required by law. The last time assets were declared in the National Assembly was in 2009. The situation has left lawmakers exposed to allegations of unjust enrichment and formulating laws that aantage their cronies.

The National Assembly secretariat has often been blamed for not taking a firm stand on the issue of asset declaration. If people are busy with proxy deals, charged Venaani, it erodes the whole point of declarations. “Although we declare our interests as lawmakers, are we declaring our proxies and our cousins holding shares on our behalf?” Venaani queried.

“Even if I declare that I have a farm, house, car and cattle while I have a proxy in a mining company, it means there is no fairness in the process because I am not declaring fully,” he said. Venaani said he would not hide his interests “regardless of how small or big they are”.

“It is important that we as lawmakers comply. DTA will be the first to do so because we have given ourselves a target date of end May to declare our assets and interests,” he said.

“The honesty around declarations is worrisome, some ministers are wealthy but their declarations state a different story,” he said. Nation awaits President’s declarations Venaani also welcomed President Hage Geingob’s announcement last month that he [Geingob] will declare his assets and interests during the second week of May when he delivered his maiden State of the Nation Address.

“It is good that the President will declare his assets and interests. Declarations will give the public a chance to assess a person’s wealth to see whether that person has unduly used their office,” he said.

With only two days to go before the second week of May passes, the country is still waiting for Geingob to fulfil his promise.

Geingob said his wife, Monica, would also declare her assets and interests for the sake of transparency. The President said at the time a key requirement in preventing undue benefits accruing to public officials is preventing conflicts of interest and the disclosure of assets.

“The law does not require the President to disclose his personal assets. However, managing conflict of interest is a matter which requires political will. Therefore, I feel obliged to publicly declare my personal assets,” the President said at the time. Political parties must be held accountable Transparency and accountability have not only been a concern when it comes to lawmakers, the public has also over the years expressed deep concern regarding political parties that do not disclose how they spent money received through state funding.

There have been repeated calls for the Office of the Auditor General to audit the books of political parties who receive state funding to ensure that the parties do not misuse the taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

For the 201516 financial year, the 10 political parties represented in parliament will receive a combined N$116.8 million from the state purse. Each seat in parliament is worth N$958 000.

Earlier this month during separate interviews, both the Auditor General Junias Kandjeke and Anti-Corruption Commission Director Paulus Noa said there is a need for political parties to disclose how they are spending state money.

“There is a need for parties to disclose how they spent state money. My office, however, can only audit the books of companies as provided for by the law. Right now we are not mandated to do the books of political parties,” said Kandjeke.

Noa, on the other hand, said parties cannot be allowed to go scot-free with the state funds. “It is a lot of money they are receiving from the state, therefore they must be brought to book,” said the anti-graft body’s director.

Source : New Era