as Malawi not been on this road before? According to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara, Pres Joyce Banda will not declare her assets because she did that soon after she was elected as the country's vice president.
"There is no reason for her to declare her assets now because she was a member of the cabinet that was sworn in 2009. The [Republican] Constitution, Section 88 (A) is very clear on this that the president or the vice president shall declare their assets within three months of being elected or appointedKasambara was quoted by The Daily Times saying capitalising on a constitutional loophole that defeats the whole purpose of declaring assets.
Trashing public demand on Pres Joyce Banda to go an extra mile and aim a little higher as far as transparency and accountability are concerned, Kasambara said:
"This is all covered; some people are just being emotional without looking at the law."
In a conflicting statement, fast becoming trademark of the new administration, the State House Press Secretary Steve Nhlane has countered the AG saying the president is ready to declare her assets again if that is what the law requires.
"The attorney general should know better if the president is required to declare assets again after she previously declared. If she has declared, the speaker [of [parliament] being the custodian of such information is in a better position to advise," said Nhlane in an e-mail response to the daily.
Reportedly, the Speaker of Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda confirmed separately that Pres Banda, the former president Mutharika, cabinet ministers and deputy ministers in the former administration declared their assets in their former capacities and that the current cabinet ministers and deputy ministers have already declared their assets.Bad advice and the moral dimension:
According to one Justin Dzonzi of Justice Links, the attorney general has given the president bad advice that she shouldn’t declare her assets although, strictly speaking, it’s legally correct.
"This goes against the intention of the law. The aim of the law was to curb corruption. The position of presidency creates potential to acquire wealth by corrupt means. The opportunities which are available at the level of president are different from the opportunities at the vice presidency level," argued Dzonzi.
He further said the aim of the law was to curtail self-enrichment of public officers through illicit means.
"It would make sense if she declares her assets. Legally, there is no need for her to declare her assets again but morally, she needs to do so," said Dzonzi.Celebrating 100 days of not declaring assets:
As the president celebrated her 100 days in office last week, missing from her achievements was an accolade to the effect that she had, transparency-wise, gone an extra mile to declare her assets upon assuming the new and high office of the Republic of Malawi.
What prompted calls from the civil society groups for her to re-declare her assets is the noticeable but unexplainable increase in the solvency of her charity.Once beaten twice shy?
Her Joyce Banda Foundation is all over a sudden very solvent; dishing funds to charities and other organizations. This could probably be good, but unless she declares her assets the suspicion that she is sourcing the money illegally will continue to linger.
In a country where there is a long outstanding court case in which a former head of state, also well-known for his “generosity”, is alleged to have diverted donor funds into a personal account; peoples’ fears can’t be written-off as baseless.
Again, it's just year ago when the Malawi Police killed 19 demonstrators who among other things, wanted an explanation from the then president, Bingu wa Mutharika, on how he had amassed his fortune.
This is the background against which Pres Joyce Banda’s refusal to re-declare her assets is sending very wrong signals.
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Alternatively, use this link by clicking here. It's our country, for once give a damn!
©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.