The Office of the Director of Public Officers’ Declarations is an independent public body within the Malawi Government established under Section 6(1) of the Public Officers’ (Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests) Act, 2013. The Act was passed by Parliament in November, 2013 and Assented to by the President on 2nd December, 2013, but it came into force on 1st July, 2014.
The Act was enacted to provide the legal and institutional framework for the implementation of the provisions of Section 88A and Section 213 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi which require the President and Cabinet, Members of Parliament and prescribed public officers to declare their assets, liabilities and business interests upon assuming office. This requirement is meant to be one way of promoting good governance as well as strengthening transparency, accountability and personal integrity of public officers.
Hence, the objective of the Act is to promote public confidence in the public service including in the offices of public and elected officials.
The Directorate is responsible for the overall administration of the Act, including enforcement, regulation and monitoring of public officers’ assets, liabilities and business interests declarations.
The Directorate is headed by the Director who is assisted by the Deputy Director. The first ever Director and Deputy Director of the Directorate were appointed by the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament on and with effect from the 15th August, 2014.
The Functions of the Director include the following:
- receive declarations from listed public officers;
- verify declarations submitted by listed public officers;
- recommend to the Minister the development of rules and regulations necessary for the proper implementation of this Act;
- ensure accessibility of this Act by the general public;
- generally advise public officers concerning their obligations under this Act;
- provide technical assistance to listed public officers on the correct method of filing declarations;
- annually publicize in the Gazette:-
- the names of listed public officers who have complied with this Act:-
- the names of listed public officers who have not complied with this Act; and
- a summary of declarations filed by each listed public officer;
- provide, annually, an assessment report of compliance by public officers with the provisions of this Act to the Minister who shall lay the report before the National Assembly;
- enforce listed public officers’ compliance with this Act by referring non-compliance with this Act to relevant employment authorities with recommendations for appropriate sanctions;
- upon verification of declarations, report any evidence or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity by a listed public officer to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Police, or the Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, as the case may be; and
- report any elected public officer, Minister or any other listed public officer who, in the opinion of the Director, may properly be dealt with by the Monitoring Committee, to the Monitoring Committee, if such listed public officer fails to comply with the provisions of this Act.
For the performance of his functions under this Act, the Director has the following powers:-
- institute an inquiry into alleged or suspected noncompliance with this Act;
- notwithstanding section 6 of the Taxation Act, order the production of any information, documents, or the giving of testimony, from any public officer, government agency, private company or any person, relating to the declarations filed by a listed public officer;
- require a listed public officer to amend, within thirty days, any declaration that is procedurally or substantively defective; and
- perform such other acts as are reasonably necessary or required for the exercise of his or her functions.
The Director performs his functions independent of any person or authority but is otherwise accountable to Parliament. In that regard, the Director’s powers and functions are monitored by the Monitoring