By Eliaser Ndeyanale
NAMIBIANS will know what their lawmakers own when the assets register for parliamentarians will be made public in January next year. The register will indicate what assets members of parliament own and what businesses they are involved in.
Director in the office of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Gerson Tjihenuna told this publication on Friday last week told Confidente that the assets register will be made public in January.
Asked if all legislators had declared their financial interests, Tjihenuna refused to comment saying, “It is not within my right to comment on that.”
Asset declaration is a constitutional requirement aimed at preventing Members of Parliament from advancing their interests at the expense of the public.
Last year National Assembly Speaker Prof Peter Katjavivi told Confidente that the assets and interests declaration exercise will be an annual undertaking, preferably at the end of every financial year so as to enable the concerned office to have an updated status of the entire Parliament.
Last year MPs were given till end of June to publicly reveal what they own, however, that was postponed to end of September, but when end of September came the declaration was postponed to end of October but nothing materialised.
In January this year Katjavivi said the assets register would be made available end of June, however, nothing happened and he later extended the deadline to end July cautioning that action would be undertaken against members who failed to comply as provided for under the Committee on Privileges and in terms of the Code of Conduct.
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 have to state the names of the firms, position held, and number of shares as well as total value of shares.
The National Council has a better track record. It adopted its code of conduct in 2005, and has released an asset register every year since 2006. When some members failed to comply with requirement in 2006, they were reprimanded something that has never happened with the National Assembly.
President Hage Geingob has also directed that lawmakers should declare their assets saying: “Assets declaration is an indicator of transparency and accountability and if you do things legitimately then what do you have to hide? Accountability and transparency help to develop trust.”
The first time was in 2003 and second was in 2009 but even then the compliance was imperfect as several MPs on the asset register did not hand in their forms in time. By signing the declaration register, MPs commit to being held responsible under criminal laws and contempt of Parliament for any inaccuracy or the incomplete nature of the afore-mentioned information.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015