President Banda challenged on accountability, ‘declare assets’

Malawi’s Attorney General who also doubles as Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Ralph Kasambara,  has attracted wrath of activists for informing  that President Joyce Banda will not declare her assets because she did that soon after she was elected as the country’s vice president in 2009.

Civil society leaders, politicians and the general public at large has been calling upon President Banda to declare her assets after her Joyce Banda Foundation has suddenly become flush with cash when she has just been in power for three months.

Kasambara is quoted in the Daily Times on Thursday, saying “there is no reason for [Banda] to declare her assets now because she was a member of the cabinet that was sworn in 2009.”

Kasambara: JB won't declare her assets again

Law

Section 88A (1) of the Malawi Republican Constitution requires that the President and Cabinet Ministers, including Members of Parliament, to disclose all their assets, liabilities and business interests – as well as those of their spouses or any assets that are held on their behalf – upon election or appointment.

Such a declaration should be made in writing to the Speaker of the National Assembly within three months of their election or appointment.

Section 13 (o) of the Constitution further obliges the State to progressively adopt and implement policies and legislation aimed at achieving public trust and good governance as a principle of national policy byintroducing measures which will guarantee accountability, transparency, personal integrity and financial probity and which by virtue of their effectiveness and transparency will strengthen confidence in public institutions.

The Attorney General has since accused those asking the President to declare her assets as being “ emotional without looking at the law.”

Morality

But  outspoken  social-political activist Ben Chiza Mkandawire reacted on social networking site Facebook with a post , saying Attorney General needs to be reminded that “Malawians deserve better, morally upright leaders. “

He posted: “Yes we cannot legislate morality. But morality is about right and wrong, and that’s why we have in place laws, can you think of one law which doesn’t declare one behaviour right and its opposite wrong? The truth is all laws legislate morality (even speed limits imply a moral right to life).

“Advising  the President not to declare her assets when Malawians want to see an end to corruption puts her credibility in question. It’s a moral requirement to give Malawians hope in the promotion of accountability.”

State House press secretary Steven Nhlane also told the same paper that the president can only declare her assets again only if the law requires her to do so since she already declared her asserts after being sworn in as Vice president.

Legal expert Justin Dzonzi  also argues that the President needs to declare her assets on moral grounds  in her new capacity as president.

Accountability

Dzonzi says Malawians need to  know how much she is coming into the presidency with for the sake of accountability and transparency.

He suggests  that Malawi also needs to develop a mechanism so that donations going to and out of presidential foundations are also accounted for to clear the image of the presidency.

“We no longer need to tolerate clandestine donations. We need to open on these things. Whatever is donated to such foundations should be published to deal with speculations and fears of a public official acquiring wealth illicitly or those with money buying favours,” he said.

Banda ascended to the position of presidency following the untimely death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika who succumbed to a cardiac arrest in April this year.

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