Ombudsman targets wealth declaration defaulters

The Office of the Ombudsman has written to several government institutions, demanding that their employees explain why action should not be taken against them for failure to observe the wealth declaration law. By June 30, this year, of the 7,058 civil servants supposed to declare their wealth, 6,975 had complied, according to figures from the Ombudsman’s office, something that riled the anti- corruption body.

The Office of the Ombudsman has written to several government institutions, demanding that their employees explain why action should not be taken against them for failure to observe the wealth declaration law.

By June 30, this year, of the 7,058 civil servants supposed to declare their wealth, 6,975 had complied, according to figures from the Ombudsman’s office, something that riled the anti- corruption body.

A source from the office of the Ombudsman said letters were written two weeks ago and sent to various institutions. 

“Something must be done because civil servants are given enough time to prepare their wealth declaration forms,” a source from the Ombudsman office complained to this newspaper last week.

When contacted, Jeanne d’Arc Mwiseneza, the Director of the Declaration of Assets unit at the Office of the Ombudsman,declined to comment. She only said her office was preparing a full statement on the matter.

Jean Pierre Nkurunziza, the advisor to the Ombudsman, confirmed that his office had petitioned institutions over the matter revealing some employees “are responding back.”

“We have given them enough time and we shall look into what they are saying before penalties are handed to them,” Nkurunziza said by phone on Friday.

Names of civil servants whose excuses are not justified will then be sent to the Ministry of Public Service and Labour for disciplinary action.

The New Times could not, by press time, obtain the names of officials who never complied with the wealth declaration law. In 2009, the Ministry of Labour and Public service suspended 56 civil servants for failure to declare their wealth.

But a source at the Public Service Commission said the wealth declaration law will never be respected as long as defaulters  receive light punishment.

“Those who don’t comply with the law are just condemned and shamed. But their salaries are not slashed and they are not  demoted. They keep turning the Ombudsman into a laughing stock every year,” the source said.

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