By Eliaser Ndeyanale
WHILE the July 16 final deadline for members of Parliament to file financial disclosure has passed, 19 MPs have missed the deadline to declare their assets and financial interests which is required by law.
Parliament liaison officer Ndahafa Kaukungua confirmed this to Confidente on Thursday last week, but declined to disclose the names of the MPs.
“Following your query on the current status of Asset Declarations by the Members of the National Assembly; I would like to state the following: 85 out of 104 Members of Parliament submitted their Asset Declarations Forms,” she said.
Speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi could not comment on the matter because he was apparently not in the office.
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.
The last time parliamentarians had declared their assets as required by the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament Act of 1996 was in 2009. The first was in 2003. Despite the Act being clear, no MP has ever been investigated for failing to declare assets.
The code of conduct states legislators can be reprimanded; ordered to pay a fine not exceeding the value of their month’s salary or twice the value of the unethically derived benefit.
It also says lawmakers can have their salaries or allowances reduced for a period not exceeding 15 days or they will have their privileges or right to a seat in the assembly or on any committee withdrawn for 15 days.
The parliamentary standing committee on privileges will have the mandate to investigate any member seen to be contravening the code of conduct. Last year MPs were given until end of June to publicly reveal their riches, however, that was postponed to end of September, when it was about to be end of September the declaration was postponed to end of October but nothing materialised. In January this year Katjavivi said the declaration exercise will be finished in April and assets register would be made available end of June, however, nothing had transpired. Last month Katjavivi extended the deadline to July 16 cautioning that action would be taken against a member who failed to comply as provided for under the Committee on Privileges and in terms of the Code of Conduct.
During the discussions on the Code of Conduct and Declaration of Members’ Interests forms last year, Minister of Land Reform Utoni Nujoma accused the media of “abusing” the asset declarations and using it against MPs. He called on the National Assembly to apply strict rules when it comes to making the information public.
“We declare as requested, but we have seen that the process was being abused by journalists. Some of us are even targeted. You declare in confidence, but during political campaigns it is used to tarnish your image,” Nujoma charged. He wants Parliament to strictly control access to the declarations made.
MPs are expected to declare their stake in trading companies, national companies, credit institutions, economic groups as well as membership in associations, foundations or other non-governmental organisations where they will state name of the firm, position held, and number of shares as well as total value of shares. .
However, for the past seven years they had not been declared their assets despite Article 59 of the country’s Constitution states that the National Assembly shall in its rules of procedure make provision for such disclosure as may be considered to the appropriate in regard to the financial or business affairs of its members.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015