Members of Parliament and government ministers must declare their assets when they are elected or appointed so that people know what they acquire while in office, Buhera South legislator Joseph Chinotimba says.
“As leaders, we should declare our assets. If we follow this rule, eyebrows will not be raised if an individual acquires some property whilst they are in the position of leadership. We will not accuse that individual of being corrupt or being a thief,” he told the House of Assembly during the debate on good governance.
Chinotimba who had earlier contributed when the motion was introduced was contributing for the second time after the motion was amended by Irene Zindi who recommended that a Parliamentary committee be set up to oversee the appointments of boards and chief executives of state enterprises.
He said the public should have the freedom to inquire how leaders acquire assets and each leader should be able to explain how they acquired any assets they owned.
The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front adopted a leadership code 30 years ago at its 1984 congress in Harare, but every leader, including President Robert Mugabe has flouted that code, if it was not amended.
The code said that ZANU regarded corruption as an evil disease destructive of society and decreed that a leader shall not:-
- accept or obtain from any person or for any other person a gift or consideration as inducement or reward for doing or failing to do or for having done or foreborne to do any act in relation to the Party’s business or the business of the Government or for the purpose of showing or forebearing to show favour or disfavour to any person in relation to the affairs of the Party or Government,
- give or offer a gift to any person as an inducement to that other person to do a favour or as a reward for a favour he has obtained or been promised,
- use funds of the Party or the Government, or produce false receipts and/or account falsely for such monies with intent to deceive the Party or the Government,
- make collusive arrangements with commercial or other persons or secretly obtain consideration for himself or for another person or fail to disclose the full nature of the transaction to the party or to Government,
- decline to disclose his personal financial affairs or other assets to a properly constituted Party or Government body of officials investigating corruption.
The code also said a leader may not:
- own a business, a share or an interest in a business organised for profit; provided that this shall not be interpreted as prohibiting such petty side-line activities as chicken runs, small plots and gardens on one’s residential property;
- receive more than one salary;
- serve as a director of a private firm or business organised for profit;
- own real estate or other property, or an interest in real estate or other property from which he receives rents or royalties;
- own more than one dwelling house; except as dictated by family requirements, but in no event shall additional houses be for purposes of earning rents;
- except with respect to interest received on account of monies deposited in a savings bank or similar institution, receive interest or other income on account of money loaned to another; “No leader shall indulge in Chimbadzo”;
- own or have beneficial interest in more than 50 acres of land;
- in addition to a salary, receive fees on account of lectures or professional activities in excess of $1 000 a year;
- nothing in this section prohibits a leader from receiving a fee/ or a royalty on account of a book or work of art or patent that he personally wrote, created or invented.
It defined “relative” as a wife, son, daughter, grandchild or any other relation of the family.
*MR. CHINOTIMBA: Mr. Speaker Sir, I rise to add my voice to what Hon. Zindi has said. I would want to support what Hon. Madzimure has already mentioned. The problem we have at the moment is that when people read newspapers or listen to radio or television, even if they are not educated but once they get this information on corruption, it becomes difficult for us as legislators to remain silent on this issue.
The information on corruption in Zimbabwe also paints a bad picture in other countries which will regard Zimbabwe in a negative way, especially if we do not take steps to curb this scourge. People of Zimbabwe will be viewed as dummies just like walls which do not take action regardless of what you do to them.
I once stated in this House that in the past, this country suffered the Willowgate scandal. People of Zimbabwe were happy because of the way investigations were carried out. The whole nation was well pleased, despite the fact that in the process we lost one of the most dedicated sons of the soil. People were also pleased by the fact that the nation was under good control and good leadership. When such steps are taken to correct such problems people will have confidence in their leadership.
Mr. Speaker Sir, some of the things which are happening in the parastatals and done by the CEOs of those parastatals are a shame to the nation. Everybody in leadership is blamed and these include His Excellency, Cde. R.G. Mugabe whose image is unnecessarily tarnished.
This is all because of leaders who are thieves and not well-organised who tarnish the names of national leaders. We have been informed that there were some board members who were given expensive cars by the parastatal whilst that parastatal was said to have no money. This was shown by the fact that workers were not receiving their salaries and the national economy was in bad state and yet board members were being given lump sums of money and these expensive cars as if they are directors who are running the company on a day to day basis.
Mr. Speaker Sir, these are not the only shortcomings of these parastatals and board members but they are too many to enumerate. I wish that the idea which was proffered by Hon. Zindi would be implemented so that the nation will have confidence in parliamentarians.
As members of Parliament, we were voted to represent people in this august House. I would want to say in these parastatals there is a top heavy management system with inflated salaries. For example, ZISCO Steel collapsed because of managers who were about 500 who were earning obscene salaries, whilst the workers were 300. This does not make any sense Mr. Speaker and this led to the collapse of ZISCO Steel.
This issue, if not taken care of will lead even to the collapse of the nation. As Members of Parliament, the majority of the electorate who elected us into this august House expect us to debate the issue of corruption and also let the public have a say on it. Mr. Speaker Sir, besides what Hon. Zindi mentioned on the election of people into respective boards, we should be careful that the election is done in a transparent manner, no corruption in the process. As leaders, we should declare our assets. If we follow this rule, eyebrows will not be raised if an individual acquires some property whilst they are in the position of leadership.
We will not accuse that individual of being corrupt or being a thief. As Ministers and Members of Parliament, we should declare our assets so that whatever it is we acquire during our course of duty can easily be accounted for. For example, I am a war veteran who came into the country in 1980 and people must be in a position to tell me that we were together during the war but right now you have all these properties, where did you get them? They should not assume that I was stealing when people were fighting for the freedom of the nation. I should be able to clear my name before my fellow war veterans.
From 1980 or even as early as year 2000, some people now own buses and some Ministers own mansions. We are not very far from independence. I was voted to be a Member of Parliament and I am now found with a lot of wealth which does not suit my tenure. I should be able to give an account of how I accumulated my assets.
The ordinary Zimbabweans should be empowered in such a way that they are able to call for accountability on the acquisition of assets because if you do not give people the freedom to inquire on how we accumulate assets, questions will be raised. I should be able to narrate how I acquired each of the assets I own – [AN HON. MEMBER: Unotyeyi munhu kutaura zvinhu zvawakawana] –
Mr. Speaker Sir, please protect me. Hon. members are heckling and confusing my debate. As I am saying right now, it is very important for this Committee of this Parliament to reach an agreement which will help us as the august House.
This is different from HIV/AIDS. A Member of Parliament or any Minister should be in a position to declare the assets that they have. We have Gumbura who has a number of wives and he was confident to say out that he is a polygamist. We should not be afraid because declaring one’s assets is not like declaring HIV/AIDS status.
We should declare whatever we have and we ask our President to allow us to say out and declare all the wealth we hold until even when a Chief Executive Officer is appointed. He should mention and declare all the assets registered in his name. It surprises us that within two days of one’s appointment, the Member of Parliament will showcase a lot of scotch-carts and a lot of money.
I mentioned this yesterday Mr. Speaker, because it really shocked us to know that some people like Chiwenga and Chihuri who are peacekeepers in this country are earning US$4000 but everybody who is under their protection is earning US$200. Vanabuya tinatandaza, are living a very good life while the rest are earning peanuts.
The police officers who were the ones protecting the diamonds in Chiadzwa are earning US$150. The one we have entrusted to take control of the national purse is earning US$900 000 but Chiwenga who is protecting the whole nation is earning US$4000 while the police officers are earning US$400.
So I am adding my voice on what Hon. Zindi has mentioned that all the previous Members of Parliament were doing a good job and all the Members of Parliament who are here should work very hard so that our country can be one of the best nations in the world. We should be united and have our country known as Zimbabwe. We fought for this country and the issue of just appointing friends, relatives, cousins and sisters is not good for us.
I would like to add on Mr. Speaker that in this country, there are very strange things in this country and I am not politicking. Issues like this do not matter, whether you are from ZANU PF, MDC or Muzorewa. The strangest thing is that someone is earning a lot whilst other people are suffering. Here we are not talking about politics and for us to enjoy our politics, the majority should be happy with what we are doing. If we are taking our country into a mess, even if our country is good, that will not help. That will lead to conflict like what is happening in Madagascar and other countries that are in the same predicaments. These countries always have civil wars and people are never settled.
Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I would like to add on that you should not stifle us from saying whatever we have on this issue of corruption. On this one issue of corruption, please, stop prohibiting us from speaking. On the same note, as Members of Parliament, we should not take advantage of this. We are saying you should allow us to say out issues which can develop our nation. People should know that we voted for Chinotimba and he is doing work for the development of this country.
When I said you must not restrict us from saying what we want, if there is something bad that has happened to an individual in line with corruption, we must say out everything. The President will be well pleased to know that members who were elected as Members of Parliament are doing a great job. Mr. Speaker, you will also be pleased with the outcome of the discussions by honourable members about this issue of corruption.
On this motion which was moved by Hon. Zindi and seconded by Hon. Madzimure, we should be in a position to pursue our investigations in order to help the nation. As I have said, we have some parastatals like the Grain Marketing Board where people were fighting in the courts of law because there were some allegations. However, this issue of corruption is a serious one. We have the likes of Gumbura who also needed to stay free but right now he is enjoying in jail yet it was never his expectation.
So, this Committee should be chosen from amongst us here in Parliament so that it can represent us without fear or favour for the national interest, not on partisan lines like MDC or ZANU PF. The Committee must take it as a duty and whether one is found to be corrupt, whether it is a ZANU PF member or an MDC member; there should be thorough investigations whenever corrupt tendencies are suspected.
Even in our parties, you will find some people fighting because of corruption. So we are here to discuss important issues which should help towards the growth of the nation. I am saying, when people are at loggerheads they end up fighting but that is not allowed in this august House. We also do not want people who shout and hate each other in this august House. If we do that, we shall be blackmailed by the public as people who always fight. From what has been said by Hon. Zindi, I would like to encourage every hon. member to go away.