Hope soared amongst Malawians when the Assets Declarations law was first enacted and excitement was high even among prosecuting agencies like Anti-Corruption Bureau.
It was believed that with the Public Declarations law in place, a net had been cast wide to catch the presumably big fish, but this has not been the case as reported this week.
While the law obliges every public officer listed in the schedule to declare the full financial status, including that of close members of the family, cabinet ministers in President Peter Mutharika’s government have not done so.
In fact, they have gone as far as declaring bags of maize in the case of Minister of Information Nicholas Dausi but not disclosing how much is in his bank accounts, assets held by a spouse and children as well as physical assets acquired before and after he came into office.
The audacity of the cabinet ministers is so daring that some high-ranking members, including Minister of Agriculture Joseph Mwanamvekha, Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi and Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe claimed they had nothing to declare in the 2016/17 reporting period.
Are these ministers informing Malawians that they hold no bank accounts and have no source of income apart from their ministerial salaries?
As if that is not enough, in addition to Dausi declaring he has 2 000 bags of maize to his name, Minister of Education Bright Msaka declared a K5 million Mercedes Benz vehicle. It baffles the mind in what condition this vehicle must be to be valued at that low amount, but acquired by a whole minister and former Chief Secretary nonetheless.
The man previously at the helm of University of Malawi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Emmanuel Fabiano declared a plot, a wholesale shop and 20 herd of cattle.
Of all the ministers, Minister of Labour Francis Kasaila at least did not make it so obvious that he was pulling wool over our eyes when he declared a pick-up, K25 million in cash from a contracting business and K12 million whose source was the sale of soy beans and maize.
What is more shocking is that while these cabinet ministers were exercising such blatant impunity, the man who appointed them into these offices, President Mutharika declared his assets, never mind how sketchy they seem to be.
This blatant disregard for the law begs the question about what these ministers have to hide by not disclosing their assets.
If these ministers were able to declare assets in the previous years but as they go towards the end of their term they declare bags of maize and a K5 million Mercedes Benz, would it be wrong to rightly imply that money laundering took place.
Malawians are not stupid to believe the ministers could not have acquired any assets in that period, not even an increase in their income? It cannot be.
The ministers are taking Malawians for fools and mocking their intelligence if they think citizens of this country can believe the likes of Dausi and Msaka can acquire bags of maize assets or one motor vehicle valued so lowly.
It is sad that the Public Declarations has all the legal ammunition to punish these ministers but obviously that is unlikely to happen.
The institutions that would prosecute these ministers for reneging on their obligations are powerless to touch them.
It would be too much to hope that the president, mandated to dismiss those who fail to comply with the law will do his job and get rid of these errant ministers and replace them with those that would respect the rule of law.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :