BY VENERANDA LANGA
NEW chairperson of the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC) Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga has called on governments to impose mandatory disclosure of assets laws on MPs and public officials to promote transparency and accountability.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga made the remarks during a Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST) policy dialogue for MPs and journalists held in Harare on Thursday, where stakeholders were brainstorming on the implementation of recommendations made by parliamentary portfolio committees and the Auditor-General.
“Section 198 of the Constitution demands that Parliament must come up with a law to ensure public officers make regular disclosure of their assets because people are living beyond their means,” she said.
“Some MPs that came to Parliament from 2000 are divorcing — and the amounts of properties that they would have acquired are very frightening. You find a young MP who joined Parliament soon after college and they had no job, but they now own very expensive properties and vehicles.
“Parliamentary Standing Rules and Orders require disclosure of assets and, as APNAC, we have noted that some MPs have disclosed their assets while others have not. We are saying that disclosure of assets should be done in public and not in the Speaker of the National Assembly’s office to enhance accountability.”
Misihairabwi-Mushonga said APNAC would strengthen parliamentarians’ fight against corruption and even initiate private members’ Bills to ensure anti-corruption laws are tightened. For example, Misihairabwi-Mushonga said there is need for a Whistleblowers’ Act.
Budget and Finance Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chairperson Felix Mhona said while Parliament was working on the clock to expose corruption through its committees, the issue of executing the findings and recommendations was the prerogative of the Executive, while the Judiciary interpreted the laws in order to enforce prosecution.
Mhona said currently, the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Bill was before Parliament and public hearings would be held on it, adding that people must interrogate it during public hearings.
Member of the Public Accounts Committee and APNAC’s Willas Madzimure said the committee would have a no-nonsense attitude towards corrupt people, adding that its recent reports recommended firing of corrupt government officials.