AFC disclosure of leaders’ private interests to be done on case-by-case basis

-under new guidelines

In the wake of the fallout over the involvement of two of its senior members in the Amaila Falls hydropower project, the AFC has adopted a raft of guidelines, including the disclosure of its leaders’ private material interests, albeit on a case-by-case basis.

The guidelines, which apply to all AFC leaders, were adopted by the AFC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) at a meeting on August 31.

In general, the document holds that while a senior member of the party is free to offer services germane to his or her profession, he/she must be willing to recuse him/herself from participating in any matter in which he/she has disclosed an interest. Members of the party are subject to disciplinary measures according to party rules should they fail to disclose private material interests and are required to make voluntary disclosures at executive meetings as part of the agenda of those meetings, according to the document.

The 10-point guideline follows:

1. A conflict of interest may arise where an elected member of the Management Committee and/or the (MC/NEC) of the Alliance for Change (hereinafter referred to as an AFC leader) has a private material interest that can be affected by the outcome of deliberations in which this leader is participating.

2. An AFC leader who is a member of the National Assembly, Regional Democratic Council or Neighbourhood Democratic Council shall additionally be guided by and subjected to rules on conflict of interest in his/her respective body.

3. An AFC leader is at liberty to offer unlimited professional services in pursuit of his/her constitutional right to work and shall not be required to violate confidentiality with legitimate clients.

4. An AFC leader has a duty to disclose before the decision-making body of which he/she is a member any private material interests in matters being deliberated by either or both of these bodies.

5. It shall be an agenda requirement of MC/NEC meetings for an AFC leader to voluntarily make periodic disclosure(s) of a private material interest in any matter being deliberated.

6. Either of these decision-making bodies shall determine, in the absence of the AFC leader in question, whether the nature of the disclosure constitutes a conflict of interest situation over a matter being discussed.

7. Where it is determined that a conflict of interest exists, the member in question shall recuse him/herself and not participate in deliberations on the particular matter in which he/she has disclosed a material interest.

8. The leadership body may invite an AFC leader who has made disclosure of a material interest to offer technical or specialised opinions on a matter being deliberated, but that leader shall not exercise a vote or otherwise decide on the matter.

9. Public disclosure by the party of any private material interest of an AFC leader shall be decided on a case-by-case basis, after due consideration of confidentiality or third-party interest, and shall be made only with the consent of the said leader

10. An AFC leader who knowingly withholds or fails to make timely disclosure of a private material interest in a matter being deliberated before a decision-making body of which he/she is a member, shall be subject to disciplinary processes under party rules.

AFC Chairman Nigel Hughes and his wife, Member of Parliament Cathy Hughes have been publicly flayed over the non-disclosure of their positions with the Amaila project.

Both connected to the controversial project, Nigel Hughes was the company secretary for Amaila Falls Hydro Power Inc (AFHP) and Cathy Hughes the public relations consultant to Sithe Global, the developer of the hydro project.

Cathy Hughes told this newspaper that she is no longer in any way connected to Sithe Global since that company pulled out of the project citing a lack of political consensus. She pointed out too that though it is true her husband was connected to the company AFHP, she never was employed with this entity. Instead, she worked with Sithe Global, one of the stakeholders in AFHP.

Following the disclosures in the press, Nigel Hughes tendered his resignation to the leadership of the AFC. However, the party, expressing confidence in Hughes, refused to accept the resignation. Hughes has since withdrawn the resignation citing public support for him to stay on with the party.

The party earlier apologised “for this critical lapse in duty” in failing to disclose in a timely manner the roles played by both Nigel and Cathy Hughes.

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