NEW CODE OF PRACTICE FOR LEADERS

The original ‘leadership code’ under the one-party state was binding on senior civil servants and TANU party leaders and was set out in the TANU Party Constitution. Similar requirements, extended to the membership of the successor organisation CCM, appear in the 1982 Constitution of CCM.

With the introduction of the multi-party state, the subject of leadership ethics was incorporated in section 132 of the Constitution and Parliament was required to give practical effect to the subject by setting up a tribunal to adjudicate on matters of leadership ethics. The new code passed by Parliament in May this year (Public Leadership Code of Ethics Act 1995 – part of the 12th Amendment to the Constitution) set up an Ethics Secretariat under an Ethics Commissioner. It differs in important respects from the TANU Leadership Code. No longer is the holding of shares in public companies, or the ownership of rented housing, forbidden. Leaders are, however, required to declare their assets and declarable assets including dividends and profits from stocks and shares or real estate other than personal dwellings. The definition of leader is wide-ranging from the President to the members of a local government authority, but this list can be altered by the Minister in charge, who appears to be a Minister of State in the Office of the President, though not defined as such.

The Act also specifies the procedures to be followed in dealing with allegations of infringement. Allegations known to be false may be punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years.

It is too early to judge the likely effectiveness of this legislation. The ethical standards of leaders are unexceptional, but in the last resort much will depend on the independence of the Commissioner in the exercise of his quasi-judicial functions. The prospects for the independence of the three- member Tribunal are enhanced by the statutory requirement that one of them must be a judge of the High Court, or the Court of Appeal, while the other two are to be appointed on advice by the Commissioner.
Roger Carter

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