14 February 2014

Tanzania to Quiz Public Officials Who Dodge Rules On Asset Disclosure

Tanzania's ethnics watchdog will investigate the financial affairs of senior public officials who failed to declare their assets and those they suspect of not disclosing their true wealth.

Tanzania's Public Leadership Code of Ethics requires that all public servants holding key positions declare their assets and liabilities to the Ethics Secretariat by Dec. 31 each year.

Salome Kaganda, the Ethics Secretariat's Commissioner, told members of a parliamentary committee on constitutional and legal affairs in Dar es Salaam that those who had not complied for 2013 would be subject to questioning by March.

In addition, more than 300 leaders who completed the assets declaration forms would be scrutinised to verify the sources of their wealth and liabilities.

The Ethics Secretariat, an independent agency, routinely scrutinises assets, but until now its activities have been kept secret.

According to Kaganda, 76 percent of Tanzania's 4,971 political leaders filled out assets forms as required by law, compared to 62 percent of the 8,148 public servants. However the commissioner expressed concern that some leaders had not declared all of their assets.

"Some of the forms are incomplete as some leaders have not stated the actual value of the assets in their possession and how they obtained them, some of them have not given their bank accounts details," she said.

Critics of the current system want to see full disclosure of the wealth statements, which are not made public. Tanzanian opposition leaders have repeatedly accused government officials of faking their asset declarations to cover up corruption. A new constitution proposes stricter disclosure rules.

Tanzania is a member of the Open Government Partnership, an international initiative which sets standards for transparency including public leaders' assets and monitors country progress.

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