By Rebecca Chimjeka
Office of Director of Public Officers Declaration (Odop) has made public declarations of assets for President Lazarus Chakwera and his Vice Saulos Chilima.
The declarations were gazetted on June 3, 2022 by Odop Director Michael Chiusiwa.
This is the first time for declaration of assets to be gazetted since 2014 when the law became operational.
The summary of declaration of the President’s and his Vice’s wealth spans from 2019 Tripartite Elections to June 2021.
According to the Gazette, Chakwera has two houses, three plots, seven motor vehicles, five bank accounts and one business interest among other things.
The Gazette shows that Chilima has two houses, 14 plots, 11 motor vehicles, two business interests and seven bank accounts among other properties.
However, the Gazette has neither specified the amount of money worth the assets nor the amount of money stashed in the bank accounts as declared by the two leaders and other political leaders.
According to the summary, former president Peter Mutharika declared four houses, three plots, two motor vehicles and two bank accounts while his wife Gertrude declared a house and two plots.
The couple’s testimony shows they had no business interest at the time of their declarations.
Public Appointments Committee of Parliament Chairperson Joyce Chitsulo, whose committee also acts as Monitoring Committee for Assets Declaration, confirmed to have seen the gazetted declarations, describing it as a step towards the end of corruption in the country.
“This is an achievement for the country. This will help in the fight against corruption and it will help audit politicians and public officials’ lifestyle. This is one way leaders should explain how they accumulated their wealth,” Chitsulo said.
In 2014, Chakwera, among other assets, declared three plots, a farm and three houses, all in Lilongwe, while Mutharika (APM) declared nine vehicles, two bank accounts; one at Standard Bank with K70 million and the other in a foreign country.
Chilima, who paired with APM in 2014 presidential elections, declared five farms among other properties.
But while applauding Odop for gazzeting the declarations, Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willy Kambwandira said his organisation has welcomed the declarations with reservations.
“It is encouraging that for the first time we have seen the gazzeting of the declarations and the President and his Vice have led by example. However, when you compare with what some listed public officers declared in 2014, you will see it does not speak to what they declared in 2019.
“There is a lot of under-declaration of assets. Again, the declarations do not say how much money was stashed in their bank accounts at the time of declaration. This information is key if we are to check their lifestyles” Kambwandira said.
He has since asked Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara to remove from office listed public officers who have failed to declare their assets as required by law.
Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests Act of 2013 came into force in 2014 and requires president, vice-president, members of Cabinet, members of Parliament and other public officers to declare their assets.