Name droppers should face criminal prosecution

The recent and widely circulated affidavit penned by fugitive lawyer Maren de Klerk who was allegedly the paymaster of the ongoing Fishrot scandal bears testimony to how the culture of name dropping is deeply entrenched in our society to the benefit of greedy and unscrupulous business people.

It is clear now how Fishrot masterminds, former Minister of Justice Sacky Shanghala and his business partner James Hatuikulipi borrowed a leaf from the tricks of old to use President Hage Geingob’s name to illegally secure millions of Namibian dollars for their self-enrichment.

This culture is not new and has prejudiced the state and taxpayers’ money particularly in most -if not all- of the major corruption scandals that Namibia has known to date. We would recall how founding father, Sam Nujoma’s name was allegedly used to unlock the Avid/Social Security Commission scandal while former President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s name was used in empowerment scheme, TIPEG where millions of taxpayers revenue was lost and never recovered.

The current revelations are only a manifestation of a social cancer that needs to be effectively dealt with through stern legislation that makes it punishable by law to use the names of people who are not involved in corrupt practice.

It would also be safe to suggest that this culture has given birth to tenderprenuership in Namibia where business people have made overnight riches while only having a briefcase and a name to drop.

What is important to realise is that most of the people who indulge in senseless name dropping are narcissistic. They are more inclined to believe they are unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions). This is why President Geingob has in the past warned that no businessman should use State House as an avenue to attract business. As we have known for a long time now, government’s financial woes have been acerbated by public servants indulging in perilous acts some of which get their way via the use of names of powerful individuals.

It is no secret that some public officials currently own properties worth billions inclusive of enormous farms. Some can afford to buy luxury vehicles such as the latest Ferraris and the 2020 edition of the Range Rover yet their incomes are not equivalent to such spending hence the question of where they get this money from needs to be interrogated.

We have come to understand that corruption has become a major problem in recent times and partly explains the financial crisis that the government now finds itself in. Whilst financial overextension has always been the first step towards being bribed or at least being open to bribery and corruption, a move to criminalise name dropping could be one way to stop the leaking taps bleeding government of millions if not billions of taxpayers’ money.

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.

For this reason, we should now as a nation come to a point where we have to admit that fraudulent misrepresentation potentially entails criminal liability and these should be investigated and, if criminality is found, they should be charged.