Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Member of Parliament for Mangochi South West Shadreck Namalomba has expressed scepticism over the move by the government to introduce a mandatory requirement of tax clearance certificate for all people vying for elected office.
Finance Minister Felix Mlusu announced when he presented the 2021/22 National Budget that the government would introduce a new requirement demanding that people vying for public office should produce a tax clearance certificate.
But, reacting to the move, Namalomba, who is also Public Accounts Committee of Parliament Chairperson, said, while the initiative appeared noble, Malawians must be wary of introducing a requirement that is “not constitutional”.
“The Constitution of Malawi, under Section 80(6)(7) is clear on the requirements for those seeking elected office and these requirements do not include a tax clearance certificate.
“Additionally, this requirement can be seen to be an attempt to rig elections in the favour of those that are in power,” Namalomba said.
He observed that tax clearance certificates are issued by the Commissioner- General (CG) of the Malawi Revenue Authority at his discretion when a person has fully discharged their tax obligation.
Namalomba said, considering that the current CG is a politically appointed person by the Tonse Alliance-led administration, those in power now could use this requirement to bar opponents whether at presidency, member of Parliament or councillor level.
“This kind of rigging has been well documented in history. The case of Madagascar with Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana should come to the fore. It is my considered view that this requirement for tax clearance for elected office should be refused by all meaning Malawians.
“Let us not destroy the hard-worn democracy we fought for,” Namalomba said.
Mlusu was not immediately available for comment yesterday.
Lawmakers, who are not at the cluster stage, are expected to start deliberating on the budget next week.