It has been said now and again that it is a requirement according to the Constitution Section 88, Sub Section 3, for every Malawi state president to declare his/her assets upon acquiring the high office.
This requirement has been well gazetted for everyone to see since 1994.
It is my opinion that the framers of our post-one party state constitution had Kamuzu in mind when they came up with this article.
Coming from a background where we were ruled by a man who conducted his affairs in high secret, it was deemed necessary to get rid of any suspicion that people might have on the wealth of the their president.
In his 30-year rule, Kamuzu acquired enormous wealth that ranged from property, fat accounts in foreign banks and not forgetting a business empire, Press Corporations, which economy pundits say controlled almost a third of the economy at one point.
There was no accountability to the masses and no wonder people never queried how their taxes and money for card membership were being used.
FOR SURE KAMUZU NEVER DECLARED HIS ASSETS TO THE NATION
It, therefore, seemed right to have the Presidency account for their financial management in the high office hence the framing of Section 88.
Coincidentally, it is rumoured that Bakili Muluzi was close to being declared bankrupt before he became president. But we all saw how filthy rich he became overnight (enriching his cronies at the same time).
Despite being a proponent of the new constitution, he chose to look away and never dared to declare his assets to anyone (may be with the exception of his family).
At one time, Muluzi went around the country telling people during rallies that he gets K25,000 a month (the figure at that time was equivalent to the salary of a PO grade in government structure). The illiterate masses believed him while the enlightened felt insulted.
A couple of years later he had constructed a K300 million office complex (Keza Building) in Blantyre and had also rolled out an ambitious project to establish a Management Institute, a Radio and TV Station among other initiatives.
By the time he was leaving office he had entangled himself in a maze of K1.7 billion alleged embezzlement. It is this allegation that has hung over his head since he left office.HE, TOO, NEVER DECLARED.
The trend continued in a rather different way when Bingu wa Mutharika came into office. Strong rumours (again) indicate that after being booted out of COMESA he was residing in Area 3 flats in Lilongwe and was driving his own minibus on the Likuni Road (We can not substantiate that)
But what we know is that his presidency helped him to acquire considerable wealth as we watched. To quell our fears he too started telling us during political rallies that he had property amounting to K131 million before he became president. Again, the illiterate masses believed, the enlightened felt more affronted.
Questions will always be asked about his Thyolo residence, Villa Casablanca, (We really don’t care whether it has 300 or 5 rooms). What is of importance to us is to know how he acquired so much wealth in just 8 years.
IF HE DECRALED, THEN I DON’T REMEMBER…HE NEVER DID
Exit Bingu, enter Joyce Banda. A few people have already started asking for the same. Whether she declares or not is up to her.
But I fail to understand why we should still keep a piece of legislation in our constitution which is not being used by anyone (Remember Section 88 also calls for cabinet members to do the same).
It seems they will NEVER EVER DECLARE so it’s a waste of time to anticipate for it.