Malawi President Peter Mutharika is under intense pressure to fire Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda, who has flouted the law by not updating his assets, liabilities and business interests to the Office of the Director of Public Officers’ Declarations.
Chaponda is a powerful minister in Mutharika’s cabinet and repositions himself as possible successor for the presidency. He is also leader of government in Parliament and second-in-command in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rank and file.
Director of the Office of Director of Public Officers’ Declarations Christopher Tukula said Section 18 (1) of the Act said if a public officer fails to submit the required declaration without reasonable cause within the time determined by the Declaration of Assets Act (2013), he or she is liable to be dismissed from public office.
He said since time for declarations had elapsed and no deadline extensions were made, he would be writing the appointing authority of the ministers, the President, for him to act as prescribed by the Act.
Chaponda, a lawyer by profession, confirmed that he had not updated his assets.
Civil society leader Timothy Mtambo has not minced words on the issue, calling on the Head of State to fire the “disgracing” ministers who have not complied with the law.
“They are a disagrace, they have dented the image of the government. As cabinet ministers they are supposed to lead by example but their failure to declare their assets begs a lot of answers; what are they running away from?” Mtambo said.
He said Malawians want swift action on the matter for failing to be transparent and accountable to Malawians.
The rights campaigner said the civil society organisations are ready to protest if the governent thinks the issue will be talked and forgotten as has been the case with other issues in the past.
Mtambo, who is also executive director of Human Rights and Rehabilitation asked the director of the Office of the Declaration of Assets Chris Tukula to act swiftly on the matter.
Failure to declare assets within the prescribed time attracts a dismissal from office upon recommendation of the Office of the Director of Public Officers Declarations while public officers who submit inaccurate or false information face conviction and disqualification from holding any public office for seven years, according to Section 21 of the Declaration of Assets Act.
Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Dr. Jean Kalilani is another Cabinet minister who did not submit her declarations but she gave a ‘reasonable excuse’ that her annual update would be submitted late due to official engagements.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe, who was listed to have not submitted his updated declarations , said he had done so now through the Office of the President and Cabinet.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Joseph Mwanamvekha and Minister of Home Affairs Grace Chiumia have also reportedly submitted their updated files.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :