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Corruption is a problem in certain sectors in Namibia. The country's public procurement sector is particularly susceptible to corruption due to the monopoly of state-owned companies (parastatals). The Anti-Corruption Act is Namibia's primary anti-corruption law, covering passive bribery, active bribery, attempted corruption, extortion and bribing a foreign public official. A range of legislation covers other corruption offences; however, despite a strong framework for curbing corruption, enforcement of the legislation is inconsistent. Gifts and facilitation payments given or received as an inducement for an act are illegal under the Anti-Corruption Act, and there are few reports of gifts being expected. However, facilitation payments are common, particularly in the customs sector.
Last updated: June 2015
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Judicial corruption is not considered a problem in Namibia. The country's courts are independent and free from government interference (GCR 2014-2015), but its judicial process is very slow due to inadequate staffing (ICS 2014). Judges act in accordance with the constitution and the rule of law (BTI 2014). It is easier and less time-consuming to enforce commercial contracts in Namibia than in comparable countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (DB 2015). Despite this, a significant percentage of Namibian citizens perceive judges and magistrates to be involved in corruption (Afrobarometer, 2013).
There are reports of corruption and impunity in Namibia's police (HRR 2013). Police services in Namibia cannot be relied upon to protect companies from crime (GCR 2014-2015). Even though a significant proportion of Namibians believe the police force is involved in corruption, very few claim to have paid a bribe to the police (Afrobarometer, 2013).
There are reports of corruption in relation to electricity and water supply in Namibia (BTI 2014). Companies should be prepared to deal with an inefficient public sector: Businesses consider government administrative requirements to be burdensome (GCR 2014-2015). Some companies report being expected to give bribes to obtain operating licences or water/electrical connections, but the numbers are below regional averages (ES 2014). However, a significant number of firms expect to pay bribes to obtain construction permits (ES 2014). Even though surveyed Namibians report very few instances of paying bribes or giving gifts to government officials to obtain documents, permits, health services or household utilities, a significant proportion of citizens perceive public officials to be involved in corruption (Afrobarometer, 2013).
There is a high-risk of corruption in Namibia's land administration sector. The country ranks among the lowest in the world in relation to the time, cost and number of steps involved in registering property (DB 2015), and its legal system is effective in enforcing property and contractual rights (ICS 2014), constituting a competitive advantage for the country (GETR 2014). Foreign investors should note land reform is a growing political issue, but no expropriations have occurred to date without appropriate compensation (BTI 2014).
The resettlement programme established by the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act was to provide assistance to the vulnerable groups in Namibia, but politically connected individuals have most-benefited from the programme (Informanté, July 2012). The land resettlement programme has worsened corruption in the country (World Bank, 2011).
Namibian tax regulations do not represent a challenge for foreign companies (GCR 2014-2015), and corruption and demands for bribery payments by tax authorities are rare. The country performs better than the Sub-Saharan Africa average in relation to paying taxes (DB 2015), yet a significant number of Namibians believe tax officials are corrupt (Afrobarometer, 2013).
Corruption by customs authorities is not a significant barrier to business in Namibia, but import procedures are very burdensome (GETR 2014). While Namibia performs better than averages in Sub-Saharan Africa in relation to trading across borders, it nonetheless performs poorly in relation to the costs and number of procedures involved in the customs process (DB 2015). Cumbersome and costly procedures are frequently associated with high-levels of corruption in the form of facilitation payments made to expedite procedures (DB 2015).
The tender systems at all levels of government are susceptible to corruption in Namibia (BTI 2014). State-owned companies (parastatals) are closed to all investors (Namibian and foreign), and foreign investors participate in joint ventures with parastatals only in certain sectors, such as mobile telecommunications; nevertheless, the process is slow, and many parastatals remain in the hands of the government (ICS 2013). Namibia's procurement process permits preferential treatment according to certain strategies and goals of the government, and the benefits are often reserved for Namibia-based individuals and companies (ICS 2013).
Corruption in the procurement process of Namibia's extractive industries is a well-known issue (BTI 2014). Businesses believe public funds are sometimes diverted to companies, individuals or groups due to corruption (GCR 2014-2015). Companies in Namibia are recommended to use a specialised public procurement due diligence tool to help manage risks in the sector.
Namibia's extractive industries offer huge opportunities for illicit enrichment, particularly through the granting of licences for mining and fishing or through international companies' involvement (BTI 2014). Namibia's natural resources have been exploited by companies because of gaps in tendering and licensing processes, leading to corruption in the sector (World Bank, 2011).
The legal framework for curbing corruption in Namibia is strong, but enforcement is inconsistent. The Anti-Corruption Act specifies and criminalises all relevant corruption offences, including passive bribery, active bribery, attempted corruption, extortion, bribing a foreign public official, money laundering and abuse of public office. The Act prescribes a fine not exceeding NAD 500,000 and/or a prison term not exceeding 25 years. Members of Parliament are required to disclose assets, but the asset register has not been published since 2009. Namibian law also outlaws conflicts of interest and potential abuses of power by public officials, but enforcement mechanisms are weak. Under the Public Service Act of 1995, civil servants are not allowed to hold positions in the private sector while employed by the state, but the Public Service Commission or the prime minister can grant exceptions, creating potential conflicts of interest. The Freedom of Information Act is a fundamental component of the government's anti-corruption initiative. The Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA) seeks to combat organised crime, money laundering and people trafficking. The Act imposes reporting obligations on suspicions of unlawful activities and provides for the establishment of the Criminal Assets Recovery Fund and Criminal Assets Recovery Committee. The Financial Intelligence Act of 2007 (FIA) makes it mandatory for financial institutions and designated businesses to implement adequate policies and procedures, such as know-your-customer policies and customer due diligence. The FIA establishes the Anti-Money Laundering Advisory Council as the policy-making body on Namibian Anti-Money Laundering (AML) matters. Namibia has ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.
Freedom of the press is guaranteed by the Constitution of Namibia 1990, but private broadcasters and independent newspapers are not completely free from political interference: Sometimes party leaders issue harsh criticisms against the independent press (FitW 2014). Recently, state-run media has faced pressure from political forces over programming and personnel, resulting in some journalists practicing self-censorship (FotP 2014). Namibia's press environment is considered 'partly free' (FotP 2014).
Neither by law nor in practice are there any notable restrictions on the activities of civil society organisations, but Namibia's civil society lacks strength because of ineffective management capacity, limited staff and weak organisation (BTI 2014).
- World Bank & IFC: Doing Business 2015.
- World Economic Forum: Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015.
- US Department of State: Investment Climate Statements 2014.
- World Economic Forum: Global Enabling Trade Report 2014.
- Bertelsmann Foundation: Transformation Index 2014.
- Freedom House: Freedom in the World 2014.
- Freedom House: Freedom of the Press 2014.
- US Department of State: Human Rights Practices Report 2013.
- US Department of State: Investment Climate Statement - Namibia 2013.
- Afrobarometer: Summary of Results Namibia 2012-2013.
- All Africa: 'Ex-NBC staffers admit TV licence corruption', 14 September 2012.
- Informanté: 'Lands ministry denies corrupt practices', 11 July 2012.
- World Bank: Ill-gotten Money and the Economy: Experiences from Malawi and Namibia 2011.