Long Wait for Lifestyle Audit Manual

Chizuma (right) accompanying president Lazarus Chakwera in inspecting pavilions during the anti-corruption symposium in Lilongwe Chizuma (right) accompanying president Lazarus Chakwera in inspecting pavilions during the anti-corruption symposium in Lilongwe - pic by State House

The Ministry of Justice has been working on legal processes on the Lifestyle Audit Manual since March 2023 when it was developed before taking it to cabinet for approval.

The Manual is tied to Section 32 of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) under possession of unexplained property.

This is likely to further delay implementation of the lifestyle audit which was expected to roll out in the last financial year.

Spokesperson for the ministry, Frank Namangale, however, says the Manual is ready to be taken to cabinet for the approval.

“The Honorable Minister, as he indicated at the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) symposium recently in Lilongwe, is committed to do so at the earliest given opportunity. Once we have a date, we will be able to let you know,” Namangale said.

Section 32 of the CPA empowers the ACB director, the deputy director or any other officer of the bureau authorized in writing by the director to investigate any public officer where there are reasonable grounds to believe that such public officer maintains a standard of living above that which is commensurate with his present or past official emoluments or other known sources of income or is in control or possession of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his present or past official emoluments or other known sources of income, among others.

'Public officer' under the section for purposes of possession of unexplained property or wealth includes any person who has held office as a public officer on or after 6th July 1964, so it affects even those who are no longer in public office now, but who once held a public office at any time from 6 July 1964.

“What this now means is that once the Cabinet approves this Lifestyle Audit Manual, this ACB Act would require amendment to include private individuals, not only public officers as it is in its present form.

“Also remember the Manual is not a law but a guide. The law which it will help to operationalise better is already there under the CPA, so once the Manual gets Cabinet approval, it will start being used even before the amendment of the CPA.

“The amendment to the CPA will just be to extend coverage of the law against possession of unexplained property or wealth to everybody and not restricted to only public officers,” Namangale said.

The delay has worried the National Anti-Corruption Alliance whose partner, the Youth and Society (YAS), feels it is derailing the efforts in curbing corruption in the country.

YAS Executive Director, Charles Kajoloweka, says that the country needs to have the guidelines to ensure that the work is guided.

“The guidelines act as a subsidiary law. They are significant in having a proper framework to guide the lifestyle audit. It is sad that there is this delay because they are important in fulfilling compliance,” Kajoloweka said.

Prior to the Anti-Corruption Symposium which was held on 23 November, 2023 in Lilongwe, ACB leadership led by its director, Martha Chizuma, engaged the media in Lilongwe where the issue also popped up.

Chizuma stressed the need for the fast-tracking of the Manual which she said will enable the Bureau to cast the net wide in the fight against corruption.

Chizuma said it will be important to also audit people’s lifestyles in the private sector which is not the case now.

At the end of the symposium, the issue was also discussed at length during closed door meetings for heads of anti-corruption agencies and governance institutions as one of the proposed recommendations or solutions.

Paulos Noah, Director General of the Namibia’s Anti-Corruption Commission, said that “participants recommend legislative reforms in respective member states to provide for lifestyle audits and assets declaration” among others.

Lifestyle audit involves an intensive probe into the lifestyle of an employee to detect sudden and suspicious affluence that may suggest fraud.

When one is exposing an extravagant and flamboyant lifestyle is an indication that can trigger suspicion or wrongfulness.

Section 13 (o) of the Constitution of the Republic provides that the government should introduce “measures which will grant accountability, transparency, personal integrity and financial probity and which by virtue their effectiveness and transparency will strengthen confidence in public institutions”.

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Last modified on Sunday, 10/12/2023

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