Director of Declarations of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests Christopher Tukula has warned public officers who are required to declare their assets to his office to adhere to the December 31 deadline or face dismissal.
In an exclusive interview with Nation on Sunday on Saturday, Tukula said that despite several calls from some quarters for extension of the period for declaration of the assets, his office has not received any plausible reasons to extend the deadline, emphasising that this Wednesday will be the final day for his office to receive all declarations.
But reports indicate that three days to the deadline, not all government ministries, departments and agencies have complied with a circular that the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) issued instructing controlling officers to submit names of listed officers who need to comply with the requirement.
Tukula said without the names, the Office of the Director of Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests is blank on how many listed officers have complied or failed to abide by the December 31 2014 cut-off date.
He also said he is not sure of the accuracy of the information provided by some officers so far.
He said until his office receives lists of names of public officers that are expected to declare their assets and match them with what has been submitted to his office, he would not know who has failed to comply with the law or not.
“[But] we will stop receiving declaration forms by December 31 2014, match the list with the forms, and then we will write a report to Parliament,” he said.
He said his office will make recommendations to controlling officers for further action on those who will not comply.
“We expect controlling officers to take administrative discipline against those that will not comply without good reasons and dismissal would be one of the measures to be taken,” he said.
Listed officers and elected politicians are expected to comply with the Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests Act—supplementary provisions of sections 88A and 213 of the Constitution—that was enacted in 2013 in reaction to the theft of public funds known as Cashgate.
So far, Tukula said some of the listed officers are steadily presenting their assets declaration forms but they have to still wait up to end of January 2015 to know whether their declarations have been accepted or not as the scrutiny for accuracy of the submitted information has not started yet.
“Listed officers will be given 30 days to amend their declarations where inconsistency has been discovered,” he said.
But Chief Secretary to Government George Mkondiwa said he is optimistic that listed officers will comply with the law despite only few days remaining to the deadline.
Asked whether government is prepared to dismiss officers that have failed to comply with the law, Mkondiwa said: “Let’s cross the bridge when we reach it. Malawians always do things last minute; the remaining days would be enough.”
The 2013 Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests Act states that a listed public officer who, without reasonable cause, fails to submit the required declaration within the required time determined by it shall be liable to dismissal from public office.
It further states that a listed public officer who files a declaration which the public officer knows or believes to be inaccurate or misleading or does not believe to be true, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of K500 000 and imprisonment for two years and shall be dismissed from public office.