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Wealth of public officials should be public knowledge

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Sir,

When Walter Bennett attacked me in the latest edition of the Times Sunday, in the article entitled ‘Musa Hlophe Lacking the Facts’, he raised some very important issues.  I will not lower myself to debating his opinions of me but I would like to discuss the issues he raised.

Bennett was right to recall the successes of the campaign by Thuli Makama to stop the unlawful executions of ordinary Swazis by Game Rangers protecting the economic interests of rich land owners. 

I am sure we ordinary, poor, Swazis are glad to see that these killings seem to have stopped. But still, they have never been properly investigated.  The Swazi families who have lost loved ones have a right to answers. I thank Bennett for reminding the nation of this terrible failure of Swazi justice.

He was also right to remind Times readers about the lack of any meaningful commitment by the Prime Minister to combating corruption. The utter confusion about how wealthy the Prime Minister is results directly from the failure of the Integrity Commission to publish the declaration of assets and liabilities. My estimate, which is derived from the PM’s own press statements, was that his MTN shares alone are worth millions. 

Bennett’s ‘fact’ of E392 000 is from a leak to the Times of Swaziland of the PM’s secret declarations to the Human Rights and Integrity Commission.  

I believe that the PM declared the value of the shares to the Commission when he acquired them. He did not tell them of their value today. Bennett misses the point when he says anyone can buy the shares.

 

confusion

The Prime Minister is also in a position to influence their value, so their current price is more relevant to the Integrity Commission.

There is an easy way to clear this confusion up.  The PM and the Cabinet could do what I suggested.   They could instruct the Integrity Commission to stop keeping the wealth of public officials a secret and to make their declarations public. The PM should remember that the only cure for corruption is transparency. Or, as Ronald Reagan put it: "Trust, but verify".

Again, I would like to thank Bennett for highlighting this important national issue; the ongoing failure of Barnabas Dlamini to effectively lead the fight against government corruption. 

Finally, the article, which provoked Bennett to attack me with such venomous, blind anger simply asked this question: "When we consider the submissions to Sibaya we must ask ourselves; was this person speaking in the best interests of the nation, or in the best interests of himself?"  

The readers know for whom Bennett speaks.

 

Musa Hlophe


COMMENTS:

 - Despite the personal attacks by Mr Walter Bennett, Musa Hlophe has raised some poignant points here. Let's debate the issue of under-declaration at the HRC because I think it's a problem of national interest. People who're known to be worth at least E400 million in terms of market value, are busy declaring that they're worth E14 million at cost - take or add a million or two. It defeats the whole purpose of declaring. Let's have a debate on this one, shall we?
August 21, 2012, 7:51 am, Just Asking Myself (just@ask.com)

 - This assessment by Musa Hlophe is actually spot-on. The PM is allegedly worth a hundred times more than declared at the HRC. Swazis are not fools anymore and we know the difference between 'cost value" and 'true fair market value'. The fact that we keep quiet when we see these things doesn't mean we don't know the truth. What's the use of declaring assets at the HRC if people would be allowed to grossly under-declare? We see these things at the border gates all the time and we call it dishonesty, because there's no honour in that. Is there an honest person left in Swaziland? Thanks to Walter Bennett for reminding is of this alleged dishonesty. He's a crime buster indeed.
August 21, 2012, 7:51 am, Dombolo Ndinisa (dom@yahoo.com)

 - What a sober article. When I read Bennett's letter on Sunday and Musa's response today, and then compare the two, the difference between the 'boy' and the 'man' is patently obvious. Again, excellent response Babe Hlophe.
August 21, 2012, 7:52 am, Linguistic Intellectual (lin@gmail)

 - Mr. Hlophe, you've raised an important point here only that you're not aware of it. The PM listed all of his assets at 'cost'. That's why he came up with the minuscule figure of E12 million. Thanks to Mr Bennett for resurrecting the matter. He listed his property holdings at cost too. A block of flats bought for E500.000.00 in 1990 is now worth something like E10 million. But he listed all his property holdings at 'cost'. He listed his financial investments at cost too as if these investments don't enjoy interest. If Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, can list his investments at cost, as the PM has done to the HRC, he would come out poorer than the PM. Declaring assets at cost is not called transparency but chartered accountants around the world monopolize intelligence and use this trick all the time because they think everyone won't know the difference, because we're Tidvomu. E12 million? Please give us a break,,,
August 21, 2012, 7:54 am, Financial Guru - Transparency Internationale (fair@live.com)

 

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