Some newly appointed members of parastatal boards have expressed reservations with the requirement that they should declare their assets, liabilities and business interests within 90 days from the day they accept the appointments, The Daily Times has learnt.
According to the Assets Act, every public and elected officer is supposed to declare their assets as part of the transparency and accountability drive for which the assets directorate was instituted.
We have talked to some recently appointed board members who argue that their positions in the government agencies are just part-time and that, therefore, there is no need for them to declare their assets.
“Why should I declare my assets when I have my own full-time work through which I earn a living?
My assets have nothing to do with anyone knowing them because I am not a public servant,” said one board appointee who opted for anonymity.
But in an interview yesterday Assets Director, Christopher Tukula, said any board appointee cannot avoid declaring their assets because the requirement is clearly stipulated in the Assets Act.
He said his office has received some enquiries from recently appointed board members, who have expressed shock that they will have to go through the process of declaring their assets, liabilities and business interests.
“Because of their strategic roles in the governance structures of their organisations, board members are supposed to declare their assets and the law is very clear on that. It is our duty to ensure that all the appointees have declared their assets within three months,” Tukula said.
In a separate interview, Justice Link Executive Director, Justin Dzonzi, said the rationale behind board members declaring their assets is that most of them preside over procurement processes involving huge cash such that there is potential that they can illegally benefit from the transactions.
“If one is uncomfortable with declaring their assets, the best they can do is to decline the appointment. Most boards, like Escom, Blantyre Water Board and Lilongwe Water Board, often have huge procurement [deals] where the board members have the final say.
“Why the law has been extended to members in this category is that public resources must be protected. If we loved this country, people would be happy to declare their assets,” Dzonzi said.
Malawi introduced the Public Officers Declarations of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests in 2013 to check illicit accumulation of wealth and entrench transparency and accountability among listed public officers.
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