Friday January 24 2014

Disclosure of wealth crucial in graft war

By Moses Okoed

The Leadership Code was put in place to strengthen the mechanisms of accountability and fighting corruption. If corruption has to be fought effectively, it is desirable that the fight starts from the top leadership.

When the Inspectorate of government fronts the declaration of wealth and assets by public officers, the intention is not to control or discourage people from acquiring property, but that wealth should not be corruptly obtained and where there is anything questionable about acquisition of property by an individual, a satisfactory explanation should be given.

Some our leaders are not leading by example; they stubbornly refuse to declare their assets while others under-declare. The code in part iv prohibits certain forms of conduct by a leader like soliciting or accepting gifts or any benefits in kind for anything done in the discharge of his/her duties or by virtue of his/her official position, and further prohibits conflict of interest where a leader puts him/herself in a position which conflicts with his/her duties and responsibilities.

Other prohibitions include abuse of public property, misuse of official information and forms of personal conduct that are outrageous or disgraceful or prejudicial to a leader’s status in government and conduct generally prejudicial to the interests of the state. If an inquiry is held and a leader is found to have breached the code, action can be taken against him/her.

I would like to appreciate the government’s efforts to increase citizens’ participation in governance, especially through the decentralisation process but there is still a lot to do. My view is that the government should focus more on measures that will compel public officers to act responsibility. This can be achieved through community-based monitoring and evaluation system – a tool used to empower citizens in understanding their rights and taking a key role in participating in all development initiatives of government.

Declaration of wealth and financial disclosure is now an internationally accepted measure to combat corruption and promote transparency. Requiring routine financial disclosures from all public officials is a powerful tool in fighting corruption and increasing transparency. Thus it is important that full disclosures of wealth be enforced.