Namibia’s Auditor General Junias Kandjeke has warned that the Information System used to control, review and approve Environmental Clearance Certificates (ECC) in the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism are not effective in avoiding the risk of fraud and corruption either internally or externally.
“There are weak controls in place regarding granting and revoking access rights, system password length and complexities, segregation of duties, change of management on the IT system, back-up policies and user access rights,” said Kandjeke.
This is contained in the Environmental Impact Assessments, Environmental Management Plans and Environmental Clearance Certificates within the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism for the 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years.
Kandjeke said that the Department of Environment Affairs in the ministry did not ensure that all proponents were operating with valid ECC as per the Environmental Management Act. The audit found through physical observations conducted at the sites of 66 sampled proponents’ in Khomas, Erongo, Oshikoto, Oshana, Otjozondjupa and Kunene regions that only 37 of the 66 proponents were operating with valid ECCs, whereas the remaining 29 were either expired or not available at all.
According to Kandjeke, the audit also found that the inspection execution rate of the Department of Environment Affairs (DEA) on the reported 1894 approved ECC in the Government Accountability report during the period under review was only 13 percent.
“The audit found that the DEA did not put sufficient controls in place to timely detect and report fraud and corruption in terms of the management of ECCs during the period under review. The audit found that the Internal Audit Department of the Ministry does not conduct regular audits on the DEA to avoid the risk of fraud and corruption. The audit also found that the DEA does not timely implement the recommendations of the Internal Audit Department to avoid the risk of fraud and corruption,” said Kandjeke. The Auditor General further stated that the Executive Director in the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism did not provide sufficient, appropriate audit evidence during the time of the audit on whether the Department of Environmental Affairs has provided good service delivery to the Namibian citizens, in terms of developing and executing plans to ensure the timely implementation and monitoring of Environmental Impact Assessments, Environmental Management Plans and Environmental Clearance Certificat
es. As a result, there is an overall risk that Section 3(1)(L) of the Environmental Management Act, 2007 (Act No.7 of 2007) principle of damage to the environment must be prevented and activities which cause such damage must be reduced and limited.