The move by Zimbabwe’s MPs to push for the declaration of assets by public officials is a very noble idea which needs to be supported.
So far, about 25 MPs have declared their assets to the Speaker of Parliament according to our report yesterday. The nation should applaud them for setting the pace. We find nothing wrong at all with public figures disclosing their assets.
When they went to the electorate seeking votes, these officials claimed they had nothing to hide – some of them even flaunted their wealth, buying votes and claiming to be better off than their rivals.
They should therefore not feel invaded when the public calls on them to expose what they own, except of course if they acquired that wealth in a criminal manner.
Declaration of assets by government ministers and other public office bearers like MPs is a common practice in most democracies. There is need for transparency in public life in order to protect public property from corrupt officials.
Filing of financial disclosure statements by senior state officials after their appointment became necessary in many countries when it became too common for public officials’ lives to transform from rags to riches overnight.
Names of some such officials in Zimbabwe have become synonymous with corruption.
Graft is a criminal breach of public trust and allows corruption and immorality to prevail in administrative and economic bodies.
It is madness to allow individuals to continue amassing immense wealth without questioning the source of those riches — even when it becomes public knowledge the officials are involved in nefarious activities.
Periodic financial accountability by public officials is therefore necessary because without it, the respect for public offices and subsequently the government itself, is diluted.
Officials should be forced to submit periodic financial disclosure statements, preferably at the beginning of their tenure and at the end of each year.
Such requisites will deter officials from becoming rich overnight by effectively dealing with such issues such as the demand for bribery, interest of conflict and outright embezzlement.
We call upon our MPs to fight for legislation that requires all public officials to declare their assets.
That is the only way Zimbabwe can enhance transparency and accountability. It strengthens the country’s democracy and governance.
We expect our public officials, including ministers and MPs, to exhibit self-discipline in the discharge of their duties. Corruption breeds poverty and deprives people of their right to basic needs while retarding development.
The media should be allowed to expose corruption in high offices without fear of unnecessary legislation meant to protect plunderers of national assets.
Instead of aiding these criminals with such laws as criminal defamation, government should embrace independent journalists and watchdogs as vital components of communication strategies for combating corruption.