Malawi new ‘robust’ assets declaration bill ready

Malawi government has said the new Assets Declaration Bill to make it mandatory for public official including the President to disclose their wealth.

President Joyce Banda instructed the Office of Attorney General to hasten the process of reviewing and enacting the new Assets Declaration.

The bill, according to Attorney General Anthony Kamanda,  will be tabled in parliament during the next sitting in November.

According to President Banda, who declared her wealth and deposited to the Speaker of Parliament, the current bill has a lot of loopholes and it is also silent what should happen upon one’s exit from the presidency.

Attorney General Kamanga:  Bill ready for parliament
Attorney General Kamanga: Bill ready for parliament

According to the new bill on Section 88A of the Constitution  seen by Nyasa Times which was approved before cabinet dissolution on Thursday and gazetted on Friday, it has covered  the President, vice president,  ministers, some civil servants, who shall be required to declare their assets.

A summary of the declaration shall be gazetted for the public to have access. The wealth declaration shall be done annually.

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 can 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. When a declaration is made, the Director can ask for evidence to support that declaration,” it reads.

“The assets to be declared will not only be those in your name but also for family members or business associates or indeed anyone or anything you are economically associated with.”

The proposed law says officers who fail to declare assets within three months shall be removed from office.

Among other aspects, the bill has given more powers to the law in tackling corruption including setting guidelines on punishments for failure to declare or incorrectly declaring information.

The bill also seeks to promote public confidence in the public sector through curbing corrupt practices by strengthening the legal framework for declarations of assets, liabilities and business interests by public officers.

It also makes it an offence for a listed public officer who fails to submit a declaration without a reasonable cause or deliberately filing inaccurate or misleading information.

The legislation will also protect whistle-blowers and makes it an offence punishable by a fine or jail sentence to reveal his identity, victimize a whistle-blower in any manner and further makes it an offence to give wrong information as whistle-blower.

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