Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development has found himself seeking cover after it transpired that he did not actually submit his annual declarations before July 31 as per requirement.
Gondwe told Malawi News of September 3-9 2016 that he submitted his annual declarations to the Office of the President and Cabinet and that he would say so if the assets office inquired from him.
But our findings, which shocked Gondwe on Thursday, revealed that he did not submit the annual declarations. He only did so after we had interviewed him and he submitted his declaration form on September 5.
His submission of Asset Declaration Form is dated September 2 2016 the day he was interviewed for our story last week and has the stamp of the Director of Public Officer’s Declarations dated September 5 2016. The form has reference number MF/2/19.
The form, which bears Gondwe’s signature, reads: “Dear Mr Tukula, I wish to submit an update to my declaration of assets which I made in 2014. The update has been submitted late due to the fact that I had travelled to India for medical treatment. I should be grateful for your consideration.”
Told that he lied, Gondwe fumed, suspecting that the Office of Asset and Declarations had leaked the document. We did not get the form from the assets office as Gondwe suspected.
But he confessed that he did not submit the annual declarations form on time because he did not know that the exercise has to be done annually.
“I was the first minister that was appointed in 2014 and I was asked to fill a form and bring it to OPC. When the assets office was established, I had already submitted to the OPC. Later, they said my form had to be redone. I don’t recall doing it,” he said.
Gondwe added: “This question of asset declaration caught me when I was away. I confirm I didn’t submit the annual one. I didn’t know that we have to do this yearly. The first one is there but the second one I was completely confused. The press reminded me so I had to do it. I don’t have anything yet to add to what I declared anyway.”
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has since cautioned Gondwe and other public officers against dishonesty.
“Honesty is a virtue that all progressive leaders in a democratic dispensation should champion. Leaders are supposed to lead by example at all times so that they earn the trust of the people.
“Our Asset Declaration law seeks to entrench accountability and transparency in our leaders. Leaders who deliberately misinform or conceal the truth should face punitive measures in accordance with the law,” said CCJP National Secretary Martin Chiphwanya.
Chiphwanya further said: “Perpetrating lies in any way is a betrayal to the people of Malawi and such leaders are a disservice to the nation and should not in any way be allowed to thrive in the system.”
In our September 3-9 edition of Malawi News, we reported that ministers George Chaponda, Jean Kalirani, Grace Chiumia, Gondwe himself and Joseph Mwanamvekha had not declared their assets.
President Peter Mutharika and Vice President Saulos Chilima declared their assets on time.
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