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Legal pitfalls frustrate assets disclosure office

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TUKULA—It is an employer who can
dismiss an employee

The Office of the Director of Public Officers’ Declaration has said legal pitfalls and lack of support from the public service are frustrating its operations as it fails to sanction defaulters in declaration of assets.

Director of the institution, Chris Tukula, told a Parliamentary Monitoring Committee meeting that his office does not have the legal mandate to act on people that fail to declare their assets as required by Assets Declaration Act.

He has since proposed to the committee for statutory review to strengthen institution’s mandate on defaulters.

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“One of the sanctions under the law is that those that fail to submit within a reasonable course should be dismissed from the public service. But as you know it is an employer who can dismiss an employee.

“In public service, it is the Controlling Officer who is supposed to discipline the defaulters and, if need be, to dismiss them from the service,” Tukula said.

He added that currently 20 public officers have been sanctioned with one being recommended for investigation and prosecution.

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Since May 2019, the declaration report from the institution indicates that, among others, 260 out of 460 Ward Councillors across the country, 193 Members of Parliament and Cabinet ministers have complied with the law in terms of declaring their assets, liabilities and business interests.

The report further shows that six districts of Balaka, Chitipa, Mulanje, Mzimba, Nkhata Bay and Phalombe were yet to submit their declarations.

Tukula then told the committee that his institution needs about K5.2 billion to achieve its vision for the next five years. He also disclosed that the institution needs K359.8 million for the online declaration system to be rolled out next year.

Chairperson of the committee Collins Kajawa said the lawmakers will look into the submissions from the assets directorate and make necessary recommendations to the government.

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