The Leadership Code Act was first introduced in 1992 and was later amended in 2002 and 2017 by the parliament. The purpose of the latest amendment Act was to check public officers, set limits on the financial behaviour of public servants and put in place enforcement mechanisms among other matters. The Leadership Code Amendment Act that was assented to on the 23rd April 2021 by the president is intended to amend the 2002 Act, clarify on what constitutes conflict of interest, require when all public officers should declare their income, assets and liabilities to the Inspector General, extend the jurisdiction of the leadership code tribunal among other things. The Act commenced on 7th May, 2021.
Key highlights of the Act
- Public officers are required every after five years to submit to the Inspector General their income, assets and liabilities.
- The Act also describes what incomes, assets and liabilities a public officer has an interest in and briefly includes properties wholly owned by the public officer, jointly owned and also those held in trust by the public officer for another person.
- The Act also prescribes punishment for public officers that declare false incomes, assets and liabilities plus those who fail to declare anything at all.
- Verification of public officer’s documents by the Inspector General is supposed to take place within Ninety (90) working days.
- The Act also prohibits public officers from declaring anticipated income and assets. A public officer will be liable if he/she does.
- The Act has also made provision for any other person of the public to avail to the Inspector General information about the incomes, assets of a public officer if that person believes that the declaration made by the public officer is wanting or is false.
- The Act has also made provision for punishment of public officers who misuse public property or who use public property for purposes which they were not intended for.
- The Act has also increased the scope of the Leadership Code Tribunal to entertain complaints from public officers with regards to how the Inspector General handles their declarations.
- A public officer who has been dismissed or removed from office as a result of a decision of the leadership tribunal court will not hold any public office for five years from the day the decision was made.
Key Issues and Analysis
The Leadership Code (amendment) Act, 2021 makes it mandatory for all public officers to now periodically declare their assets, incomes and liabilities to the Inspector General with punishments for those that will either delay or declare false information. It has also made provision for other aspects that were not catered for in the amendment of the Act of 2002 such as to what extent a public officer has an interest in an asset or income. This clear doubt and the trickery public officers have been using to hide their income and assets. Moving forward, extending the jurisdiction of the Leadership Code tribunal is also important as a dispute mechanism is vital in achieving and realising the implementation of the provisions of the Act.
The 1995 Constitution under article 223 creates the office of the Inspector General of Government whose mandate is to check, monitor the powers of public servants. Much as the Amendment Act has made provision for public officers to declare their income and assets, they have gone ahead to specify what people are public officers within the meaning of the Act or those that are eligible under the Act to make the declarations. However, the government is good at drafting legislation but it has failed on the implementation part. The Leadership Code Amendment Act is good to check the extremes of public officers if religiously implemented by the Inspectorate office.