Home Affairs co-minister Theresa Makone has become the first Cabinet minister to declare her assets to the Speaker of Parliament and has challenged other ministers to prove their honesty and “cleanliness” by following suit.
Makone said she decided to declare her assets a few days after listening to a speech by the African Parliamentarians Against Corruption (APNAC) chairman, Willas Madzimure, on World Day Against Corruption, which was held on December 5 2010, where 25 MPs publicly declared their assets.
Makone said as one heading a ministry that most people perceived as full of corrupt practices, she decided to be exemplary by publicly declaring her assets to encourage honesty on the part of other staff in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“What compelled me to declare my assets is that I am in a very responsible ministry where people actually look upon me to be honest and you cannot tell people under you to be honest and be servant type of leaders unless you are honest yourself,” said Makone.
“When Madzimure asked MPs to declare their assets, I took it as a challenge and decided to do that, two days after World Anti-Corruption Day.”
She said she wanted to be clean outside and inside, morally and socially in every way possible and said other ministers should not be afraid to do likewise if their wealth was gotten in honest ways.
Madzimure, the APNAC chairman which is fighting corruption among bearers of high public office, yesterday confirmed the Home Affairs co-minister had indeed declared her assets to set the pace for other MPs and ministers to follow suit.
“We have one minister, Theresa Makone, the co-minister of Home Affairs, who has since publicly declared her assets. The impact of such a move is that a person in high public office will be mindful of the assets they have acquired and the ordinary people will be able to hold that person accountable,” said Madzimure.
“It makes life even easier for the MP because if they declare their assets as soon as they are elected into office, when they become rich or even poorer because they have been using their personal funds to help people in their constituencies, the public would know why they became rich or poor,” Madzimure said.
A motion to compel MPs to declare their assets as soon as they got elected into Parliament would soon be introduced in the House of Assembly when it resumes sitting early next month, Madzimure also revealed to NewsDay.
The Kambuzuma MP said APNAC had decided to move such a motion in the House to ensure the declaration of assets became obligatory.
“As MPs against corruption, we have started working on a motion on the declaration of assets by lawmakers so that it becomes an obligation,” said Madzimure.
“At the moment we encourage MPs to declare their assets voluntarily, but we want it to be a law soon.”
Madzimure said the aim was to have every MP declare what they had as soon as they were sworn into Parliament.
Madzimure heads the Zimbabwean chapter of APNAC, a body of African parliamentarians whose aim is to stamp out all forms of corruption among the higher echelons of society.
Although media reports revealed some critics viewed the move by APNAC to try and push for the declaration of assets by MPs as a ploy to win cheap popularity by its members, Madzimure said his organisation was making significant progress in trying to promote accountability by people in high public office to the extent that one Cabinet minister had already declared her assets to the Speaker of Parliament.
Early in December last year, 25 MPs declared their assets in a move aimed at pushing other public office bearers, like government ministers, to do the same, as a way of clamping down on corruption.
Critics, who included MPs who did not take the move to publicly declare their assets, however said those MPs who had done so were nothing but “small fish”.