The declaration of assets by Members of Parliament (MPs) and government officials in influential positions has become the subject of intense and widespread
Although some MPs said it was a noble idea, others said they could not support the idea unless their political parties gave them the nod to go ahead and declare their assets.
African Parliamentarians Against Corruption (Apnac) chairman, who is also Kambuzuma MP, Willias Madzimure, said it was necessary for people in positions of power to declare their assets as a way of discouraging corruption in the country.
He said when Parliament resumes sitting in February, a motion would be introduced in the House on declaration of assets by high-profile people, with the aim of making it legally binding for newly-elected MPs to declare their assets to the public.
However, not all MPs interviewed by NewsDay agreed with Madzimure’s views. The following are excerpts of MPs’ views across the political divide on the declaration of assets.
Edward Cross (MDC-T) — Bulawayo South MP
I am totally in favour of the concept that MPs should be compelled to declare their assets as soon as they are elected into Parliament.
I personally have already done so and have submitted my declaration to the Speaker of Parliament, Lovemore Moyo. However, I think a lot of MPs are against it, but if one owns properties, they have to disclose what they own as part of building democracy in the country.
Fred Kanzama (Zanu PF) — Mutare South MP
Whilst I may not want to dwell too much on the issue of Apnac, I want to point out that it is just a pressure group and is not a constitutionally-created group.
I also think that for anyone to become an MP in any part of the country they belong to a political party and that political party will guide them into the system.
Political parties have constitutions and my party, Zanu PF, has a way of doing things. If Zanu PF gives a directive that we must declare our assets, then we will do so.
I cannot speak about the issue in my personal capacity until my political party says so.
For now, I stand guided by my political party.
For instance, every family has a father and the children have to follow what the father prescribes.
Moses Mzila Ndlovu (MDC) — Bulilima West MP
First of all we need to see the legislation that requires people to do that. If there is no legislation and this declaration of assets is based on free will it would not help.
I think what is a good idea is that we cannot achieve much and it leaves a lot of loopholes in the sense that it is voluntary and one is not clear whether it is in the interest of fighting corruption or some moral decadence.
I agree with the idea but a lot needs to be done to enforce it.
We need to take this seriously and not repeat what happened in the 1980s at the advent of independence, when the Zanu PF government at that time required its leadership to declare their assets and there was no legal framework to support that.
Some Zanu PF leaders decided to volunteer to declare their assets and it turned out they misled the nation until those involved in the Willogate vehicle scandal were exposed and people were using that as a cover-up for a lot of corrupt activities.
A lot of us in the current Parliament have not done that because it is not a requirement and because the public has no way of knowing whether it is true.
Since the public are the beneficiaries of that information, they should have a way to hold Parliament accountable.
This is therefore a ploy that is not likely to produce much except a repeat of our previous experiences.
I doubt the sincerity of those initiating this and it is like they are trying to pretend to be clean when most MPs are dirty.
This also includes opposition MPs who before they came into Parliament lived in high-density suburbs, but they are now suddenly rich and own suburban houses.
It is all a waste of time. I want to speak for the voiceless people who are bombarded with such information, to say as leadership in Parliament, we want to pretend to be morally upright when the listener cannot verify that.
Definitely, it is not likely to yield results and should be based on a piece of legislation so that when that law is violated, the public can seek legal recourse.
Zanu PF has looted this country and is now lying and blaming sanctions while people cannot hold them accountable.
I am against lying and posturing by political leadership and the opposition should distance themselves from such things because there is no way the public can verify that if we are really interested in the establishment of democracy in the country.
David Chimhini (MDC-T) — Mutasa North MP and Apnac treasurer
It is necessary for MPs and high- profile people to declare their assets.
I am the treasurer of Apnac and we are fully behind that because if public figures acquired their assets properly, people should have a right to know how they got them.
You cannot fight corruption with a leadership that does not declare what they own and if they acquired what they own in a transparent manner.
If leaders do that, other people are also challenged to work hard in life.
If a public figure got their assets in a dishonest manner, people have a right to ask how those were acquired.
The fight against this cancer called corruption should start from the top. We can only succeed if we have legislation that demands leadership should declare their assets.
It is difficult to remove corruption in society, but we are saying we need to fight it and the starting point is the legislature, so that the executive follows suit.
Some of the people in the executive have been in office for a long time and they should not be scared to declare their assets.
We declared assets on the 9th of December and we do not want this to be rhetorical talk, but we want to show people that we are serious about what we are talking about.