Monday, 23 May 2016

LIFESTYLE AUDITS FOR MINISTERS LOOMS

Minister Kasukuwere's mansion
PARLIAMENT will soon institute a lifestyle audit for legislators including Cabinet Ministers that is expected to compel them to declare their assets in compliance with the provisions of the new Constitution and the House’s Standing Rules and Orders.

The regulations provide that public officials including parliamentarians must make regular disclosures of their assets.

Parliament’s Standing Rules and Orders Committee last month approved a draft Asset Declaration Register that spells out the kind of assets that MPs will be expected to declare.
The Clerk of Parliament, Kennedy Chokuda, said the development was meant to make MPs accountable to the public.

“This is within our Standing Rules and Orders that were approved way back during the Sixth Parliament,” he said.

“We’re now giving MPs an opportunity to make their input into the register. Remember MPs hold other people to account so this will also help members of the public to also hold them to account.

“But there are things that will be confidential and can only be made public with the approval of the Speaker of the National Assembly and the President of the Senate. So those who want that information would have to apply.”

Senate president Edna Madzongwe last week told Senators that MPs were requested “to consider and submit their views and recommendation on the Asset Declaration Register” for consideration by the committee on Standing Rules and Orders by May 31, 2016.

The draft document seen by our Harare Bureau indicates that legislators would be required to declare their assets, which include land, in and outside Zimbabwe, buildings, movable assets, financial assets and other assets such as jewellery worth more than $25,000.

The preamble of the register states that the development was in line with Section 198 of the Constitution that provides for regular disclosure of assets as well as Standing Orders 48 and 49 of the Senate and the National Assembly respectively that provides that, ‘Every member shall register all his/her financial interests in a book to be maintained under the direction of the Speaker and the President of the Senate and such registration shall be in a manner specified in the Code of Conduct’.

On land, legislators will be expected to state their address, category, year of purchase, area, percentage, type of acquisition and the owner.
The categories are farming land, forests, land inside localities, water surface and other categories of land outside localities if included in the civil circulation.

The MPs will be expected to state the owner’s name such as holder, spouse or child while on co-owned assets they were expected to clarify the owned percentage and names of co-owned assets.
On movable assets such as motor vehicles, tractors, farming machinery, boats and yachts and other means of transport that are subject to registration under the law, they were also supposed to declare them.

They will be expected to state the type of vehicle, brand, number of items, manufacture year and acquisition type.

On precious metals, jewellery, art and religious items, art collections and coins, items of the national or worldwide cultural heritage worth over $25,000, MPs will be expected to indicate all assets whether they are in Zimbabwe or outside the country.

They will be expected to give a brief description of the assets, year of acquisition and estimated value.

MPs will also be expected to declare movable assets worth over $15,000 and real estate alienated in the past year stating the type of the alienated asset, date of alienation, person the asset was alienated to, type of alienation and value of the asset.
On financial assets, MPs will be expected to declare bank accounts and deposits, investment funds, equivalent savings and investment forms if their total worth exceeds $25,000.

MPs will be expected to indicate those that are in banks and institutions outside the country stating the administrating institution and address, type, currency, opening year and updated balance or value.

Equivalent funds, including private pension funds or other savings systems as well as investments, bank deposit, placements or loans given worth over $25,000 as well as other net income generating assets that exceed a total annual equivalent of $25,000 are also subject to declaration.

Legislators will also be expected to declare their debts and liabilities outside the country including outstanding taxes, mortgages, warrantees issued for the benefit of a third party, leasing assets among others if their worth exceeds $25,000.

The draft declaration form also states that MPs must declare gifts, services or advantages free of charge or subject to subsidies as compared to the market value received from persons, organisations, companies, autonomous administrations, national companies or foreign public institutions, including scholarships, loans, warrantees, expense disbursements or the like of an individual worth over $4,500.

Under the provision, MPs will be expected to state whether it’s the MP, their spouse or children who generated the income, the source of the income, provided service or income generating item as well as collected annual income.

However, they will not be expected to state “usual gifts or treats received from relatives of first or second degree”.

MPs will also be expected to declare their stake in trading companies, national companies, credit institutions, economic groups as well as membership in associations, foundations or other non-governmental organisations where they will state name of the firm, position held, and number of shares as well as total value of shares.

By signing the declaration register, MPs commit to being held “responsible under the criminal laws and contempt of Parliament for any inaccuracy or the incomplete nature of the aforementioned information”.

The Clerk of Parliament will be expected to enter the register of declared assets. chronicle

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