Govt,Zitto clash over Bill By The Citizen Reporter THE CITIZEN With mounting public concern over the declining level of public leadership accountability, the government and opposition parties have entered a tug of war with each claiming the ownership of the idea to amend the Public Leadership Ethics Act. As Kigoma North MP Zitto Kabwe blames the Speaker's office for holding his private member's bill instead of tabling it during the recent meeting of the legislature, the government on the other hand asserts that Mr Kabwe did not follow proper procedures before presenting the proposed bill to Speaker's office. CCM caucus chief whip Mr. Phillip Marmo says Mr. Kabwe should have gazetted his bill before submitting it to the parliamentary secretariat for further action. Envisaged changes in the public leaders ethics code are perceived as a move to shaking up the bigwigs, whom the law has been shielding. The Chadema MP wants the legislation to be reviewed to delete provisions that hinder public leadership accountability, transparency, moral integrity and accountability of elected representatives and top administrators. Some high profile leaders in President Kikwete's government have been implicated in gross losses of public resources; this deters investments, discriminates against the poor and destroys public confidence in democratic governance. Indeed, the contemplated proposal intends to mandate authorities to acquire or repossess illegally acquired properties and make such illegal acquisition an offence punishable by due process of law or by forfeiting such properties. In the proposal Mr. Kabwe wants the law to provide for independent authority to call upon a public servant to disclose the properties held by him, his relatives and associates, whether in Tanzania or abroad. Such authority needs to conduct necessary inquiry and investigation or conduct, raid, inspection or survey and make any seizure. The very holding of illegally acquired properties is made a punishable offence with the result that the competent authority can take proceedings for identifying and seizing assets stashed abroad by corrupt public servants including ministers and MPs, both past and present. The right of citizens to demand information from government departments, government undertakings, and municipal and local government institutions and/or from any organization which is substantially financed or controlled by the government is sought. It is meant to be brought on the statute books and necessary legislation put in place to enable this right to be respected by the concerned authorities. "The citizen's right to information is the soul of transparency and when conceded, will improve the quality and ethics of decision making by the authorities concerned," the MP's proposed bill underlines.