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Another minister to declare assets

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Another senior government official, a Zanu PF deputy minister, has joined the asset-declaration crusade and is keen to present a register of his assets to the Speaker of Parliament, NewsDay has learnt.

African Parliamentarians Against Corruption (APNAC) chairman Willias Madzimure said the deputy minister, whom he was not at liberty to name as yet, was still seeking approval from his party to make the declaration.

“The deputy minister is interested in declaring his assets but he said he needed the approval from Zanu PF first and that is why he has not yet done so,” Madzimure said.

“But as soon as he gets that go-ahead, he will immediately do so because he has expressed genuine interest to do so.”

Madzimure, who is MP for Kambuzuma, also cleared the air over the manner and extent of the asset declaration saying it was not necessary to put details of what the officials owned into the public domain as that information could endanger the officials.

He said there should be at least a legal framework put in place to protect the officials’ assets before they could be publicly listed.

The information on the assets thus far declared was however available for scrutiny to anybody that was interested and that information could be accessed from the Speaker of Parliament who is the custodian of the assets register.

“The arrangement is that if there is a query that someone might have amassed wealth in a corrupt manner, interested people should go to the Speaker of Parliament and demand to know the assets that the person in question owns,” Madzimure said.

He said declaration of assets by MPs was not politicking but was the practice the world over.

“This is not politicking because in Zimbabwe, due to polarisation, anything that is said is perceived to be political. It is not about Zanu PF and MDC, it is about every MP, including ministers and all those in high public offices,” he said.

He said it was all about fighting corruption and the drafting of a legal framework to enforce that would legalise access to information about who owns what by every Zimbabwean.

“The legal framework should be there because if you publicise someone’s assets and they are very poor, people might laugh at them. There is also a danger that due to the volatile political situation in the country, a person’s assets could be destroyed and so it is imperative for them to be protected by the law,” Madzimure said.

He said the legal framework would oblige the Speaker of Parliament to give information about a person’s assets if people felt the person needed to be investigated, but at the moment, APNAC was only concentrating on those MPs who declared their assets voluntarily.

The Speaker of Parliament, Lovemore Moyo, could not be reached for comment as he was said to be out of the country.

Meanwhile, Greg Linington, a constitutional lawyer and political science expert, told NewsDay in an interview on Friday that assets that MPs and ministers said they had declared should at least be published on the parliamentary website so that there is transparency.

Linington said it was a good idea to make it mandatory for MPs and other people in high office to declare their assets as soon as they were elected into power.

He said currently there was no provision in the Constitution or a law to compel MPs and other people in high leadership positions to declare their assets so that they could be accountable to the people.

“It would be a good idea to have people in high leadership position declare their assets,” said Linington. “However, at the moment there is nothing in the Constitution that stipulates that MPs should do so.”

Linington said it would certainly be in the public interest for them to know the financial interests of MPs as it would stop corruption and any conflict of interest if they declared they were shareholders of any companies.

“People who go into public service must be able to make their assets known to the public,” Linington said.
At least 25 MPs have so far declared their assets, including Home Affairs co-minister Theresa Makone.

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