Malawi lawmakers start debating Assets Declaration Bill

Malawi Parliament enters its second week of sitting Monday afternoon with the legislatures set to start their debate on the controversial new Assets Declaration Bill.

The Members of Parliament went for a weekend recess last Friday after an emotional week of debate on Capital Hill looting which recent reports a whopping K109 billion has been siphoned from government coffers since 2009.

Once the new bill is passed, it will make mandatory for all public officials including the President to disclose all their wealth.

Speaker of Parliament, Henry Chimunthu Banda said the Business Committee of Parliament agreed to start debating the bill once the House resumes sitting Monday afternoon.

MPs starts assets bill debate
MPs starts assets bill debate

“On Monday business in the House shall start with government business first reading of Bill number 21 of 2012 Public Officers Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests,” Chimunthu Banda.

The speaker also disclosed that the MPs will no longer debate on Capital Hill scandal after it was curtailed last Friday to give enough time to the House’s Parliamentary Appointments Committee (PAC) to come up with a detailed report on the matter.

“This is so to consider all the proposals that came from the floor during last week’s sitting for inclusion in the Parliamentary Appointments Committee’s report which is expected to be tabled in the House again,” he explained.

Chimunthu Banda said the PAC report will be re-tabled in the House on Tuesday just after question time in the morning.

The bill, according to Attorney General Anthony Kamanga, the current bill has a lot of loopholes and is also silent on what should happen upon one’s exit from the presidency.

President Joyce Banda, who reportedly instructed the Attorney General to hasten the process of reviewing and enacting the new bill, is alleged to have declared her wealth and deposited it to the Speaker of Parliament.

Cabinet approved the new bill just few days before its dissolution on October 10, 2013 and gazetted a day later.

According to the new bill on Section 88A of the Constitution  it has covered  the President, vice president,  ministers, some civil servants, who shall be required to declare their assets annually.

A summary of the declaration shall be gazetted for the public to have access.

The proposed law also calls for the establishment of the office of the Director of the Asset Declaration who shall be appointed by the President with no confirmation by Parliament.

Any member of the public will have the freedom to write the Director of the Office of Public Declarations for access to the full declaration, although the director shall reserve the right to reject the request if it violates certain principles of the Act.

The proposed law says the assets to be declared will not only be those in an officers’ name but also for family members or business associates and those one is economically associated with.

It also says officers who fail to declare assets within three months shall be removed from office.

Meanwhile,  opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) president and leader of the party in Parliament Atupele Muluzi says he is ready to declare his assets even though the Constitution does not mandate him to do so.

Muluzi told Parliament:” I am prepared to declare my assets, I can do it even without the law in place.”

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