Two more non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have asked Malawi President Joyce Banda to declare her assets.
The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and the Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) said in a statement issued on Sunday that they supported the call by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and other NGOs for the President to declare her assets.
In their statement, CHRR and Cedep said the call goes not only to the President, but also her deputy, Cabinet ministers, members of Parliament (MPs) and other public servants in conformity with the principles of rule of law, good governance and democracy in general.
The Attorney General (AG) recently gave a legal opinion to the Speaker of the National Assembly, advising him against revealing to the public details of the President’s wealth as earlier requested by the Malawi Law Society (MLS).
AG Anthony Kamanga opined that the current legal framework does not empower the Speaker to release or make public the contents of the declared assets.
But CHRR and Cedep said they recognise that all citizens of any democratic State are entitled to access information regarding the assets of their public officials, including the President, whom they put in office on trust to represent their general interests.
Reads the CHRR and Cedep statement in part: “This is [the citizens’] democratic right, which they ought to enjoy without any derogation.
“Government, through the Attorney General, needs to be reminded that public service is no place for the protection of privacy…”
The two NGOs said while subscribing to the fact that there are already other agents such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) which can access the information on assets in cases of an individual being investigated for accumulating wealth suspiciously, as was suggested by the AG, they said such an existing tactic may only manage to unearth the wealth of few individuals who have been successfully tried and convicted.
Further reads the statement: “We at CHRR and Cedep are further surprised by the continued failure by the Speaker of the National Assembly to disclose the details of the assets of the President despite being reportedly presented to him.
CHRR and Cedep said declaration of assets would not only help in curbing corruption, but will also attract direct foreign investments and improved public and donor confidence in the government.
The statement, co-signed by Timothy Mtambo of CHRR and Gift Trapence of Cedep, reads: “In addition, by declaring her assets public the President would be candidly showing her renewed commitment and political will towards combating corruption and abuse of power in the country.”