Now that the assets declared by public officers can be accessed through application to the Public officers Declarations Directorate, some local civil society organisations (CSOs) have applyied to inquire the wealth of President Peter Mutharika declared.
President Mutharika is said to have now become one of the wealthiest leader in the African continent.
However, the CSOs want to have access to the records and know how much Mutharika owns
so that they can easily undertake their watchdog role of ensuring public officers do not accumulate wealth illegally.
Nyasa Times media group has also applied to access the documents.
Assets Director Christopher Tukula, told Daily Times: “I can confirm that the CSO community is among those seeking access to declared assets. But I am not in a position to disclose their identities because the law does not allow me. It up to them to disclose their identities.”
Section 88 A (1) of the Constitution stipulates that the President and members of cabinet must disclose all their assets, liabilities and business interests – as well as those of their spouses or any assets that are held on their behalf – upon election or appointment .
And this obligation is extended to Members of Parliament by Section 213.
But despite these very clear constitutional provisions and the importance of government officials being publicly accountable to citizens, it has proven very difficult to implement practically binding principles that are observed by those in high office. Indeed, it has become a thorny issue among politicians in Malawi as nobody wants to give details of their (often) unexplained property or wealth.
In other countries, the media might be able to use another route by using an access to information law to get the assets document. But regrettably in Malawi after an access to information bill was drafted, it has still not been enacted into Law – leaving Malawian citizens in the dark on many critical issues.
Apart from President Muntharika, other public officers whose assets are ready for public access include Vice President Saulosi Chilima, Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya, Leader of Opposition
Lazarus Chakwera and Members of Parliament.
Tukula said his office holds the discretion to grant or refuse access to declarations.
“if there are reasonable grounds taking into account the objectives of the account. In particular, the right to privacy and the personal security of public officers shall be one of the key considerations in granting or
refusing approval for public access.
“To that end, necessary precautions shall be exercised during the screening process and all released information shall be closely monitored to ensure that the process is not abused”,he said as quoted by Daily Times.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :