The country’s consumer and human rights activist, John Kapito, has called on the Malawian public to carefully scrutinize the assets declarations by public officers including President Peter Mutharika.
Mutharika, his deputy Saulos Chilima, former president Joyce Banda, Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya and leader of opposition Lazarous Chakwera have made their assets public in accordance with the country’s constitution.
But there have been a lot of questions on the wealth declared, with critics suspecting the details to be exaggerated.
“How did these people manage to have so much wealth when people are languishing in poverty?” Kapito, executive director of the Consumers Association of Malawi, queried.
“We need to audit and continue monitoring the wealth [of politicians],” he said.
Section 88 of Malawi’s constitution requires presidents and cabinet ministers to declare their assets – and those of their spouses – within three months of their election or appointment.
However, the declarations were postponed after Malawi’s Office of the Director of Public Officers Declarations gave public officials until December 31, 2014 to make them.
Director of Public Officers’ Declarations (DPOD) Christopher Tukula has since warned that those that might have doctored assets in their declarations will have to face the long arm of the law as physical verifications are expected to be done soon.
Mutharika’s declaration of wealth fits him in the bracket of the country’s billionaires as declared that he had about $10 million deposited in banks in Malawi and the United States.
The details of his declared wealth show that Mutharika had a number of bank accounts both within and outside Malawi containing close to 4 billion Malawi kwacha (roughly $10 million) in cash.
The Malawi leader has over $8 million in two U.S. bank accounts. In Malawi, Mutharika has about $1.7 million at a local bank, along with a fleet of nine vehicles that he reportedly bought between 2001 and 2014.
Special aide to President Mutharika, Ben Phiri told the local radio Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) on Friday that the Malawi leader has made his assets public in accordance with the country’s constitution.
“He is operating within the law,” said Phiri.
He dismissed assertions that the wealth declared may be exaggerated. Asked if the President can explain how he attained his wealth, Phiri said the law does not provide such provision.
“The law says he should declare and it does not say that he should explain what he declared,” said Phiri.
The idea behind the declaration of assets by elected or appointed officers is to check whether whatever assets they acquire while in office is commensurate with the perks of their offices.
Late president Bingu wa Mutharika, who died suddenly of cardiac arrest in 2012, had in May 2004 declared his wealth to be around K150 million. However, in an assessment of his estate after his death valued his wealth at K61 billion.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :