Evidence paramount in whistleblowing
AS we continue to fight the scourge of corruption within our society, it is important for whistle-blowers to realise that without evidence as a key component to justice delivery, most of the information that they leak to corruption watchdogs such as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) fails to get required attention and thus criminals go loose.
Verily as a publication, we have encountered circumstances where the ACC has attested to have received claims which would have been made by faceless whistle-blowers who send anonymous emails with allegations that are not supported by any documentation or any type of evidence.
Even though these whistle-blowers most of the time are offering credible information particularly within the public sector, the acute lack of supporting facts has seen many acts of corruption survive the long arm of prosecution.
There is no denying that corruption is a notoriously secretive activity and it is usually only those engaged in corrupt deals or those who work with them that are aware of it. Insiders are among the few people who are able to report cases of corruption (past or ongoing) and identify the risk of future wrongdoing. By helping to detect corruption cases, whistle-blowers play a critical role in converting a vicious cycle of secrecy into a virtuous cycle. It is therefore essential that when whistle-blowers take this step, they do not just state the allegations but also play a key role in the process of evidence gathering.
With government’s financial woes having been exacerbated by public servants indulging in perilous acts such as dubious payments to ghost companies, over-invoicing, and other diversionary actions, a more vigilant citizenry which is able to be evidence driven will go a long way in complementing other corruption fighting mechanisms such as lifestyle audits.
As a publication, we have always maintained that corruption has never done this country any good, and in asserting this long held view we reiterate that it must be uprooted with the tenacity it deserves. In order to give meaning and effect to this recommendation, we strongly believe that the laws aimed at protecting whistle-blowers must be further amplified with more platforms that are convenient for whistle-blowers to participate being brought to the fore.
This will not only strengthen corruption fighting systems but will also encourage civil society as well and the public sector to become vocal proponents in the fight against corruption.
Realistically, corruption in Namibia can be said to be one of the greatest factors of poverty, development and economic decline. Although the country is endowed with prized natural resources, it continues to struggle and scramble for positions in the lower rungs of the United Nations Development Index.
For this reason, we encourage that whistle-blowers become more evidence savvy and try at the very least to attach some evidence in their leaks to ACC as well as the media. This will undoubtedly increase the rate at which corruption is being dealt with and subsequently lead to greater developmental prospects for Namibia.