Monday, 17 September 2018

DECLARE ASSETS : ED URGED

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his two deputies — Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi — have been urged to publicly declare their assets in order to demonstrate their commitment to fighting corruption, the Daily News can report.

Upon taking over the reins of power from former president Robert Mugabe late last year, Mnangagwa has gone all out to fight corruption in both the public and private sectors.

In January this year, he made a decree that Cabinet ministers and senior central and local government officials must declare their assets by the end of February.

The decree was also animated by pledges during campaigns for the July 30 harmonised elections that his government would not tolerate corrupt elements.

After winning the July 30 vote, Mnangagwa seems to be walking the talk, with some high-profile political figures among those nabbed for alleged corruption.

But observers believe that the anti-corruption crusade could be targeting Mnangagwa’s perceived rivals only, and that the leadership must be the first to publicly declare their assets and liabilities as a tool to inspire others; prevent corruption, and facilitate the detection of illicit enrichment and conflict of interest.

The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) said it is one of the practices of exemplary leadership to inspire others by doing it first, adding that leaders must be prepared to show others how it is done.

“President Mnangagwa should lead by example and declare his assets and liabilities similar to what South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has done,” director of ACT-SA, Obert Chinhamo said in a report released last week.

He said by declaring assets, and liabilities, it shows clearly that one has nothing to hide.
This will also increase the trust of citizens in individual politicians and civil servants.
ACT-SA said declaring assets help prevent conflict of interest and to resolve such situations when they arise, in order to promote integrity.

“The law should make it mandatory that all politicians and high profile civil servants declare their assets and liabilities before taking office. This is one of the areas that need reform. We hope and trust that President Mnangagwa will not leave out these declarations in his list of anti-corruption activities,” Chinhamo said.

According to Mnangagwa’s January decree, it is now mandatory for Cabinet ministers, their deputies and permanent secretaries, senior principal directors, board chairpersons and chief executives of parastatals to declare their assets.

Among the assets that are being documented and submitted in sealed envelopes since February but have not been made public yet, are immovable properties owned by the officials or those they have an interest in.

Mnangagwa’s critics at the time were quick to point out that instead of lodging the details with his office, details of their assets and income must be uploaded to a publicly searchable database to boost transparency.

They said this would also represent a show of good faith that officials are willing to open their finances up to public scrutiny, to be held accountable, and to move away from a culture that tacitly allowed bureaucrats to amass wealth through cronyism and graft.

South African-based political analyst Ricky Mukonza told the Daily News that there exists an indelible impression — based on perceptions — that the Zanu PF leadership was generally corrupt, making it absolutely necessary for its leadership to act transparently.

He said fighting corruption requires that those that champion the cause have a moral standing that is beyond reproach.

“Some independent commission of enquiry set up by Parliament could assist. Further to that, institutions that are set up to fight corruption must be strengthened to ensure that they serve their intended purposes.

“Their impartiality and independence must be reasserted so that they gain public trust. At the moment what is happening in the purported fight against corruption looks more like Zanu PF factional wars between Lacoste and G40 that are continuing,” Mukonza said.

Another analyst Maxwell Saungweme said for the anti-corruption drive to work effectively there was need for “a paradigm shift in ways of doing things”, calling for reforms in the police and Judiciary which he singled out as being corrupt.

“It also demands more accountability from government leaders who should be able to lead by example by not only declaring their own assets, but sources of income from which they procured those assets from,” Saungweme said.

Added Saungweme; “It has to start with the president and his deputies, to inspire ministers and others to follow suit”. Daily News

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