Malawi Constitution obliges elected officials to declare their assets upon assuming office. This aims to ensure transparency as it is expected to give citizens an opportunity to check abuse of public resources.
Section 88 A (1) of the Republican Constitution stipulates that the President and members of cabinet disclose all their assets, liabilities and business interests and also those of their spouses or any assets that are held on their behalf upon election or appointment .
Such a declaration is supposed to be made in writing to the Speaker of the National Assembly within three months of election or appointment.
Despite such provisions, the challenge has been to convert these constitutional provisions into practically binding principles that are observed by those in high offices. It has been a thorny issue among politicians in Malawi as they do not want to be taken to task if they have unexplained property or wealth.
Like her predecessors, President Joyce Banda has fallen into the same trap whereby she does not want to be held accountable on her wealth. Politicians are getting away with such disregard because there is no Act to actualize the provision.
We wish to agree with political scientist Henry Chingaipe who has proposed the need to come up with an Act that will support the Constitutional provision on declaration of assets.
At the moment, even in the event that the declaration is made, it becomes extremely difficult for the media and any interested parties like the civil society to have access to the documents. This makes it difficult for Malawians to authentic such declaration.
Banda is missing a golden opportunity to set standards that her predecessors failed to do.