The Director of Public Officers’ Declarations is pleased to inform members of the general public that under section 17 of the Public Officers (Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests) Act 2013, declarations made under the Act are treated as public information and may be accessible to members of the public upon application to the Director.
The general public should also note that public access to declarations is a legally sanctioned and internationally recognized practice which is widely accepted as a reasonable, necessary and justifiable public interest derogation of private interests in modern democratic governance. This practice, apart from enhancing the effectiveness of an asset declaration scheme, is also aimed at enlisting citizen, media and civil society participation in the oversight and scrutiny of Government and its officials. In turn this promotes transparency and accountability and fosters public confidence in the integrity of the Public Service as envisaged by Section 13 (o) of the Constitution.
In this regard, the Director would like to advise members of the public that pursuant to the aforesaid Section, the Directorate is currently compiling a database upon which a public access platform will be developed in phases.
The first phase of the platform will be open to the public with effect from Monday, the 2nd day of March, 2015 and it will initially cover officers listed under Part A of the First Schedule to the Act (Political and Elected Officials) namely:
- Vice President
- Speaker and Deputy Speakers of the National Assembly
- Cabinet Ministers
- Members of Parliament
- Leader and Treasurer of a political party represented in Parliament
- Mayor and Councillors of City Councils
- Councillors of District and Town Councils
All members of the public should take note that the Act regulates public access to declarations as follows:
- An applicant will be required to fill out an application in the form set out in the Fourth Schedule (of the said Act), specifying:
- the applicant’s personal particulars and contact details,
- particulars of the officer whose declarations the applicant would like to access,
- specific details of the information the applicant would like to access from the officer’s declarations,
- specific reasons for seeking to access the information,
- a sworn undertaking before a Commissioner for Oaths that the personal details provided are correct, that the information sought shall be used for the furtherance of the objectives of the Act and that the applicant is aware that it is an offence under the Act to use the information requested in any way other than for the furtherance of the objectives of the Act.
- The Director may, if there are reasonable grounds taking into account the objectives of the Act, refuse access to declarations.
- Where the Director refuses access to declarations, he shall, within 14 days from receipt of the application, notify the requesting party in writing stating grounds for his refusal.
- The application to access declarations shall be confidential unless the applicant, upon accessing the declarations, misuses or otherwise abuses the information or upon being refused access to the declarations, applies for a judicial review of the decision of the Director.
- Any person who, upon accessing declarations submitted by a listed public officer, misuses or otherwise abuses the information commits an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine of K500,000 and imprisonment for two years, without prejudice to any other legal remedy available to the injured person.
Further, the Director would like to assure the general public and all listed public officers that every effort would be made by the Directorate as a regulator of the process to uphold the ideals and objectives of the Act and to discharge its duties in a professional, fair and impartial manner. In particular, the right to privacy and the personal security of public officers shall be one of the key considerations in granting or refusing approval for public access. To that end, necessary precautions shall be exercised during the screening process and all released information shall be closely monitored to ensure that the process is not abused. To achieve this, the Director is also urging members of the general public to be vigilant and to report any actual or suspected abuse of the public access process (once it is rolled out) to the Directorate as soon as possible.
The Public Officers (Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests) Act, 2013 and the Application Form as set out in the Fourth Schedule to the Act can be accessed from the website of the Directorate, www.declarations.gov.mw or the Office of the Director of Public Officers’ Declarations, Episcopal Conference of Malawi Catholic Secretariat Office Complex, Area 11, Off Chimutu Road, Private Bag B340, Capital City, Lilongwe 3.
Dated this 23rd day of January, 2015
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC OFFICERS’ DECLARATIONS
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC OFFICERS’ DECLARATIONS
Promoting Public Confidence in the Public Service