Saturday, September 5, 2009

Private radio station demands Parliament speaker disclose MPs' assets

(MISA/IFEX) - Malawi -Private broadcaster Zodiak Radio Station (ZBS) is demanding that National Assembly Speaker Henry Chimunthu Banda disclose details of members of Parliament who have declared their assets as per constitutional requirement. The radio station became the first media house to present this challenge.

"We believe the public has the right to know who has declared and who has not and afterwards, we will announce the names on radio. We believe the law did not intend for the speaker to hide them," says ZBS managing director Gospel Kazako in the letter.

Chimunthu Banda however, told "The Nation" newspaper that he had to read the letter from ZBS and examine the arguments before committing to release the details. The speaker gave cabinet ministers and members of Parliament up to 19 August 2009 to declare their assets as per constitutional requirement and said the figures of those that have declared will be known in due course.

"I will have to see what their arguments are. The law states that parliamentarians should declare their assets and ordinarily the speaker would keep them. This is not the first time people have declared their assets so we are yet to see what ZBS are saying," said Chimunthu Banda.

The speaker said his office and that of the clerk of Parliament were still compiling the details of those who had declared their assets and said they might just announce the number of people who had declared as opposed to giving details to the public. Meanwhile, experts have observed that the assets declaration provision is useless as it does not spell out any penalties for public officials who fail to comply. A draft bill to address this problem has been lying idle for the past four years.

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