THE Office of Director of Public Officers’ Declarations has said there are some public officers including Members of Parliament and Cabinet ministers who still think the directorate is a tool for political witch-hunting.
Assets Director, Christopher Tukula, told Parliamentary Committee on Privileges Wednesday this week that general apathy is one of the main challenges affecting the operations of his office.
Tukula said some public officers are failing to understand that the institution is legally away from any political influence.
“Some officers in government think we are sent by Parliament to victimise them, while some officers in opposition think we are sent by Capital Hill to victimise them. People do not trust us as an institution that operates independently,” Tukula said.
He, however, conceded that the directorate is failing to perform its duties on civic education due to funding challenges. To increase awareness and compliance, the directorate said all public institutions should have a desk for assets declaration.
“We have requested all institutions to submit a name of an officer who will be responsible for assets declaration. Some public officers are not taking this seriously,” he said.
Currently the media and civil society are the only parties interested in accessing information on declared assets and their interest is usually directed at cabinet members and senior political party leaders.
Tukula attributed the situation to the directorate being away from the communities and said the office will be sending access forms to districts for the sake of interested individuals.
The assets director said the office also plans relationships with other investigating bodies such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Financial Intelligence Unit and Department of Immigration for other activities including the physical verification of assets declared.
In terms of assets law declaration compliance, politicians are doing better than civil servants. According to Tukula, out of over 13,000 public officers earmarked for declaration, about 12,400 did the initial declarations and have done the annual updates.
Chairperson of Privileges Committee Christopher Mzomera Ngwira said the directorate should do more on civic education to ensure that public officers understand the declaration concept better.
“You have a very noble responsibility of promoting transparency and accountability in this country. But for you to achieve that, you need to do more awareness,” Ngwira told the directorate.
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