Finally! Auditor General to audit Defence Ministry

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

The Office of the Auditor General, which was previously prohibited from entering military bases has been granted access to audit the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs.

This is according to a reliable source at the Attorney General’s Office, who revealed that they will soon embark on the much anticipated audit.

In 2020, the Attorney General, Junias Kandjeke was blocked from inspecting N$506,4 million of the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) expenditure for the 2018/19 financial year. Kandjeke revealed this in the ministry’s 2018/19 financial year audit report.

This is despite the law providing that the Attorney General or his delegate must access all books of a given Government entity.

Former Minister of Defence, Peter Vilho in an interview with the Windhoek Observer said that people should discard the notion that the office of the Attorney General was infallible or superior to the executive arm of government and that the notion that he refused the Attorney General access was misunderstood.

“I did not refuse the Attorney General to audit the Defence Ministry as many media outlets claimed when I was the Minister. Rather, i welcomed the Auditor General to do so as mandated by the law of the country. There is no problem in auditing at all, however, the Ministry of Defence is not allowed to share sensitive information which can put the ministry in danger. This is what we advised the Auditor General during that time, for example, let’s say we have five war tanks and out of five only two are working, this is very sensitive information that can alert enemies to attack the country and that is why I did not want such information being publicly shared in their auditing reports,” Vilho said.

According to Vilho, the Auditor General is allowed to report on these, but this should be kept outside the public domain and only be made known to the President.

“The only time that such information can be publicly shared is when you write a letter to the President to accord you permission to do so, which I did and it was declined because these are matters of national security that the public is not supposed to know”, he said.

Furthermore, he claimed that auditors made an error when they provided the ministry with a qualified audit opinion based on controversial spending of N$506 million, which the auditors were unable to evaluate because they were forbidden access to some military bases.

In December 2021 the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts (PSCA) grilled the ministry’s management for denying the Auditor General entry into the military bases, saying that both the minister Frans Kapofi and Executive Director Wilhelmina Shivute did not have authority to block the Auditor General from doing his job.

The Committee, chaired by Dudu Murorua, demanded answers from the ministry’s Executive Director Shivute, why the Auditor General was not allowed access. Shivute, said part of the Auditor General’s request was to see equipment capability and military aircraft flying certificates, adds that the ministry realised that military information would be made public at the expense of state security.

Meanwhile, Kapofi says the ministry has always been audited and has never been refused to be audited.

“Maybe in the past but during my time the ministry has not been reluctant or perhaps on other things , this or that. Not that it was not being audited. The Auditor General is the government auditor and audits whatever is part of the government. During my stay at the ministry of denfence I have never been in informed that there are instances where the AG cannot audit. The Auditor General has all access to the affairs of the state and we are not an exception,” Kapofi said in an interview with the Windhoek Observer.

Questions sent to Kandjeke remained unanswered despite numerous attempts.

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