Saturday, September 26, 2020

Public declaration of assets is the only way out of this mess

Of all the transgressions of this government, nothing comes closer to a stubborn refusal to come up with a law that requires Members of Parliament to publicly declare their assets and commercial interests.

A stubborn unwillingness by our government to pass a law that would compel members of parliament to publicly declare their commercial interests has become a festering wound that literally corrodes our moral fiber as a nation.

In fact, if there is anything that will remove the BDP from power, it is impropriety (perceived or real) on the part of its Members of Parliament.
It begs belief that a party so supposedly committed to the cause of fighting corruption could be so contemptuous in its rejection of giving teeth to that cause.

Publicly declaring their interests can only serve the interests of our politicians.
Other than calls to have their salaries increased, if there is anything else that unites the BDP members of parliament it is their rejection of a law on public declaration of their assets.

While a motion of parliament was passed over ten years ago, there has in the interim been a united reluctance to engage on the subject.

The truth of the matter though is that, like a bad coin, this matter will keep coming back. In different forms, of course.

What is more saddening is that the BDP does not seem to care about the amount of damage this stubbornness is doing them.

As we speak, the nation still does not know what to make of the still unfolding drama surrounding Assistant Minister Guma Moyo.
It’s no exaggeration to say from nowhere, Moyo’s story has got a whole government submerged under a spider’s web.

As one headline so succinctly put it, Moyo has spoiled the party.

For a whole week now, Moyo’s drama has been a real delight to journalists who have been clamouring for a juicy story with which to wrap up the year.
First, there was a press release from the Office of the President saying the Assistant Minister was stepping down ÔÇô a vaguely innocuous and deliberately misleading statement that sought to spread misinformation that Moyo was leaving office voluntarily.

Before long, the BDP confirmed that the Minister had also resigned from the party.

That was, of course, not before we had been told that he had also quit parliament.

It has since surfaced that he has rescinded his resignations, not least because the rash decisions were all made in a feat of anger.
But all those are mere footnotes.
The big revelation is information that the assistant minister did not leave on his own.

He was bungled out of cabinet because the Director of Public Prosecutions intends charging him in the New Year; an intention already communicated to the Head of State.

I doubt the assistant minister would be facing this music had the ruling party put in place a law that made it mandatory for MPs to declare all their commercial interests.
For goodness sake, it is not enough to say ministers are obliged to declare to the President.

It still boggles my mind why BDP government is so hostile to a law that would require MPs, including the State President, to declare their assets and commercial interests.
As we now know, their salvation depends on such a law.

My uneducated guess is that the BDP thinks by resisting this law, they are protecting themselves.
The truth is that without it they are doing themselves more harm than would be the case with it.

I have great admiration for Moyo.
One has to have a measure of respect for a man who put on such a stellar job during his days as member of the Public Accounts Committee.
What a sad way to go.
But he is paying a price for his party’s sins.

He just happens to be the first to face the music.
He need not worry for this is just the beginning.

Many other MPs are not far behind.
Unless, of course, a law is passed compelling them to declare their interests.

In the meantime Moyo should start a one man campaign calling on his party to come up with this long overdue law that compels MPs to declare their assets.
He should preach to his BDP that, left on its own, democracy could be a woolly, wild-goose chase.

He should tell his colleagues that without the nuts and bolts that make it appeal to people’s emotions, democracy could be a totally meaningless concept.

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