State of the Nation 2019: Has Namibia improved in governance rankings?

During the State of the Nation address in the National Assembly chamber on 17 April 2019, President Hage Geingob made the following statements:

“Namibia’s position for Governance in Africa, as measured by the Mo Ibrahim Index improved from 6th position in 2016, to 4th position in 2018.

Namibia’s ranking on Transparency International improved from number 6 in 2016, to number 4 in Africa, in 2018. The implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan, and the declaration of income and assets by Public Office Bearers, Parliamentarians and Management Cadre are some of the key initiatives that could have contributed positively to our ranking.”

We identified three areas of questionable issues with these statements:

1. Namibia’s stated ranking in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance over the last few years;
2. Namibia’s stated ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International over the last few years;
3. The suggestion that declarations of income and assets by public office bearers and government managers primarily influenced an improvement in standing on international governance indices.

What are the facts?

  1. On the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, Namibia was fifth in both 2016 and 2017. Despite rising by one place, Namibia’s score has worsened since 2016 from 71.2 to 68.6;
  2. On the Corruption Perceptions Index, Namibia is currently fifth – not fourth – in Africa and 52nd globally. The African countries ahead of Namibia are: Seychelles (28), Botswana (34), Cape Verde (45), Rwanda (48). Namibia was also 5th in 2016 – not sixth – behind Botswana  (35), Cape Verde (38), Mauritius (50), Rwanda (50);
  3. MPs have declared just once in the current parliament. Assets declarations by the executive have not been public, and aside from President Geingob, only finance minister Calle Schlettwein has publicly declared his income, assets and liabilities. The spotty record on declarations since 2015 thus bring into question their significance in having “contributed positively to our ranking”.

Our assessment

The president’s statements are mostly true, despite mis-referencing the international indices mentioned in the speech.

However, while it is true that Namibia on the whole continues to be positively regarded internationally, as reflected by the country’s standing on the mentioned continental and international indices, it is important to realise that the regard for Namibia and its standing are a lot more nuanced than what the president’s statements suggest.

13th June 2019

Frederico Links

Frederico Links is the editor and lead researcher of Namibia Fact Check and a research associate at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)