Malawi government has interdicted Director of Public Officers’ Declarations Christopher Tukula , a move seen as derailing the December 31 deadline for public officers to declare their wealth.
Tukula has been interdicted on half pay with effect from December 17 2014, “following his arrest” on 17th October, 2014 by Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) , Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa said.
Tukula in an interview with Nyasa Times on Monday said he learnt from the grape vine but has not received any communication from parliament.
“I have heard the rumours of the interdiction but I have not yet received the letter,” said Tukula.
“ In the past week I have been in the field conducting asset declaration briefings with various public sector institutions and coordinating logistical arrangements in the run up to the December 31st deadline. I don’t know where the letter is coming from but I only expect it to come from Parliament because under the Asset Declaration Act, the appointing authority is the PAC Public Appointments Committee) of Parliament and it’s the only authority empowered to confirm my suspension or removal,” Tukula, a lawyer by profession, told Nyasa Times.
Under section 8 of the Public Officers (Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and business interests Act only the Committee can remove the Director although the President can recommend to PAC that the director be suspended and in that case he can only be suspended with the confirmation of PAC.
PAC chairman Lingston Belekanyama said the committe had not met to approve the interdiction of Tukula and the decision as far as the Act is concerned lacks legal backing.
The first ever Assets Declaration Director was arrested for allegedly interfering with investigations the on-going ‘cashgate’ cases and later released on bail.
Tukula’s interdiction puts in limbo the future of the newly-established office of the Director of Assets Declaration which was received with fanfare. His office was established to ensure that public officers, including the President, the Vice President, members of Parliament and senior public officers, declare their assets to check corruption.
The interdiction comes barely days to the deadline of December 31 2014 for all public officers that are listed to declare their assets.
President Mutharika, his deputy Saulos Chilima, cabinet minister and MPs were supposed to declare their assets within 90 days (three months) upon election or appointment. But since there was no director the deadline passed but Tukula extended it to December 31, 2014 and has since been receiving the declared assets for the public to scrutinise on demand.
Although Mutharika and Chilima have said they have already declared their assets, the public has no way of inspecting the declared assets since effectively there is no director.
The idea behind the declaration of assets by elected or appointed officers is to check whether whatever assets they acquire while in office is commensurate to the perks of their offices.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :