Bulawayo’s Ward 19 councillor, Alderman Clayton Zana, has said councillors are not refusing to declare their assets to members of the public, insisting they have nothing much to declare.
Zana was responding to Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association coordinator, Emmanuel Ndlovu, who had earlier on said the majority of councillors in the city had ignored their plea on public declaration of assets by councillors as office bearers.
Both Zana and Ndlovu were participants at a Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) stakeholder dialogue on economic governance initiative held on Zoom online platform on Tuesday.
“I think this thing needs to be approached in a professional manner rather than more of a political manner to say in a hall orin a gathering, ‘can you declare your properties,” said Zana.
“Is that the way we should be doing it? Because when we get into office, will fill-in forms to declare our properties through our party. I know some will say, your party will protect you, but we are saying we did that through the party.”
Zana added: “My suggestion is: can that be done through the office of Council rather than to say an organisation just comes and says can you declare. We are not refusing to declare, because if you are saying I should declare at a public place, in a hall, it’s a mockery, because some people will say: ‘ah, we thought he had something but he is just a poor man.’ At the end of the day most councillors have nothing to declare. They have not much to declare.”
The alderman said there should be a proper and transparent way and mechanism of declaring assets.
“If somebody says ‘ah, what is it that I declare’ you will think that councillors are refusing,” he said.“We have nothing to hide.”
One of the participants in the meeting, Ntokozo Tshuma, said councillors should understand that once they get into public office they become a subject of public scrutiny.
“It must not be a surprise why the public wants to know their assets and wants them to declare them and so forth,” said Tshuma.
“He (Zana) must bear in mind that being a public figure comes with public accountability and part of public accountability resonates with declaring to the public what you had before and what you would have amassed after leaving office. Public office will always attract public scrutiny.”