MEMBERS of Parliament will be required to declare their assets and business interests under new anti-corruption regulations authorities are working on.
Senate has passed the Code of Conduct and Ethics which now awaits National Assembly approval to bring the measures into effect. Every MP will be compelled to disclose interests within 60 days of the Code coming aboard and yearly thereafter. Failure to comply constitutes contempt of Parliament, attracting penalties.
This is in step with the final report of the Parliamentary Reform Committee (1999) which recommended introduction of the Code. Clerk of Parliament Mr Kennedy Chokuda told our Harare Bureau, “You can check with the Hansard, sometime last year, the Code of Conduct and Ethics was approved by the Senate and now only awaits to pass through the National Assembly.”
Zanu-PF National Assembly Chief Whip Cde Lovemore Matuke could not be reached for comment.
His MDC-T counterpart, Mr Innocent Gonese, said: “Having a Code of Conduct and Ethics is very important in terms of fostering transparency in the House. The motion to pass the Code has already been presented in Parliament and we could have it adopted as early as next week, depending on the order of business.”
Part of the Code reads: “(I) In pursuance of Standing Orders 49 and 48 of the National Assembly and Senate, respectively, every member, including a presiding officer, must register all his or her proprietary interests.
“(2) The first disclosure must be within 60 days of the date of opening Parliament; and where a member is appointed after the opening of Parliament, the disclosure is to be done within 60 days after his or her appointment as a Member.
“(3) After the first disclosure, members must disclose their registrable interests annually at a time to be determined by the committee.
“(4) In fulfilling the requirements on declaration and registration of interest and remuneration, and depositing of contracts, a member must have regard to the purpose of those requirements and must comply fully with them, both in letter and spirit.
“(5) Where a member who is bound by this code is in doubt in respect of the registrability of a financial interest, he or she may consult the Clerk of Parliament.”
The code requires MPs to declare the companies in which they hold shares; the nature of those firms and their nominal value.
Another portion reads, “The receipt, description value and source of any gift with a value in excess of US$4 500 or gifts from a single source which cumulatively exceed the value of US$4 500 in any calendar year or hospitality intended as a gift in kind, including such gifts and hospitality from an external source to a spouse, permanent companion or dependent child of a Member, provided that personal gifts within the family and hospitality of a specifically traditional or cultural nature need not be disclosed.”
South Africa and Kenya are among countries with similar codes.