Photo courtesy: The Namibian
Government is providing some information on how donations are being spent, but more could be done
On 22 May 2019, government called on Namibians to voluntarily contribute a small portion of their incomes to the drought relief effort to assist farmers and drought-stricken communities.
The call came after president Hage Geingob declared the long-standing drought a state of emergency in May 2019.
Namibians were asked to contribute 2% of their incomes to the effort, and many corporates, parastatals, foreign governments and ordinary Namibians responded with donations, with reports indicating that over N$99 million had been received in donations by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) by late July 2019.
Namibia Fact Check was recently asked to check how transparent government has been with the management and reporting on the voluntary drought relief contributions.
This was in response to the executive director in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT), Mbeuta Ua-Ndjarakana, having assured the public in June this year that the drought relief donation account would be transparently handled.
He said reporting on the account would be transparent and managed by the public, government, and private sector, including the auditing of the funds by government and external auditors, and that reports that would be issued periodically, highlighting expenditures and who benefited.
Against this backdrop, what we specifically checked was the following:
- Are the bank account details for the drought relief donations publicly available and accessible;
- Is government publicly accounting for how the donated funds are being spent.
What we found:
- With regard to the bank account, the particulars are available on the website of the OPM. The account is with Standard Bank, and is named the Drought Relief Account 2019;
- With regard to accounting for the donations, prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has given several statements on the account in parliament, speaking to the balance of the account and the scope of expenditures. However, there do not appear to be documentary account statements available in public as yet.
Namibia Fact Check recently sent some questions to I-Ben Nashandi, executive director in the OPM, about accounting of donations and his response was: “The report of donations are made public time and again. We shall email you the same by source.”
When asked why documentary reports were not available in public, Nashandi responded: “Parliamentary addresses are public.”
In light of all this, it is mostly true that government is somewhat transparent about the account and reporting on the drought relief donations.