Forty MPs fail to declare assets

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Windhoek

While lawmakers in the National Assembly continue to demand accountability and transparency from public servants, close to 40 percent of them missed the November 30 deadline to declare their assets, as the law requires them to.

New Era can reveal that 40 of the 104 lawmakers in the National Assembly failed to declare their interests on time. The Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi, confirmed this on Monday, but declined to disclose the names of the culprits. The last time assets were declared in the National Assembly was in 2009.
“The members of the National Assembly who have submitted their asset declarations forms to the Office of the Secretary of the National Assembly are at this stage 64 out of 104, which constitutes 61.5% of all the members,” said Katjavivi.

In terms of the Parliamentary Code of Conduct the declaration of assets is obligatory and all members of the National Assembly are obliged by law to submit this information. According to Katjavivi: “The matter is currently receiving the necessary attention and members are being reminded to comply without fail.”

It seems those who did not comply have been given an extension, but Katjavivi said eventually the dissident MPs would be dealt with, in line with the provisions of the Code of Conduct, which sets out fines and penalties. In a worst-case scenario non-complaint MPs could be excluded from parliament or lose their income.

“It’s not possible to give you the names, but we can give you the number of those that have declared. I know some were outside the country, so I can only reveal the names once we are back in February,” he said. “I hope we will not have to get to a point where members are punished for failing to comply,” the Speaker said.

New Era understands that certain members of the executive (Cabinet) are among those that failed to abide by the laws of parliament when they failed to publicly declare their assets and interests.
Failure to disclose comes as no surprise, as some lawmakers have from the start of the process meddled with the contents of the declaration forms to fine-tune these to their satisfaction. Critics feel this was a deliberate move to hide what they own.

Under current regulations members of parliament must disclose their interests in property, remunerated employment outside parliament, shares, directorships, board memberships, gifts, retainerships and consultancies.
Some of the consequences for those who fail to declare include a fine not exceeding the value of a month’s salary, or twice the value of any unethically-derived benefit, whichever is the greater, a reduction of salary or allowances for a period not exceeding 15 days, or the suspension of a member’s privileges or right to a seat in the House or any committees, for a period not exceeding 15 days.

While lawmakers in the National Assembly continue to drag their feet on the declaration of their assets and interests, their counterparts in the National Council clearly have nothing to hide. All National Council members had until August 31 to declare, which they duly adhered to. The 2015 register is already complete.

Even President Hage Geingob and his wife, Monica, declared their personal assets and wealth, saying their combined estimated net worth is between N$95 million and N$111 million, although there is no legal obligation forthem to do so. It took President Geingob just two months to do so after assuming office, yet no less than 40 lawmakers in parliament are yet to abide by the law.

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