The Defence Ministry has come under scrutiny for its refusal to disclose detailed information regarding its political appointees, despite recent government assertions of enhanced transparency. Responding to a request from the local media outlet “Dhauru” under the Right to Information Act, the ministry directed the enquiry to its website, which conspicuously lacks details about the salaries of appointees.

This request, filed on 2 April, sought specifics on the number of political staff appointed since President Mohamed Muizzu’s administration began on 17 November 2023, and their corresponding salaries. However, the ministry’s legal department only reiterated that such information “is published on the website of this Ministry,” a statement that proved misleading as salary details are absent from the site.

The Defence Ministry’s website lists merely three senior positions: a Minister of State, a Deputy Minister, and a Permanent Secretary. This is in direct contradiction to data available on the President’s Office website, which records two appointments at the deputy ministerial level, raising questions about the accuracy and consistency of information shared by different government bodies.

This incident underscores ongoing issues within the government concerning transparency about political appointments. Despite the Information Commission’s recent directive mandating the disclosure of details related to political appointments, including ranks and salaries, compliance remains patchy. The Defence Ministry’s evasion comes shortly after the government was ordered to publicise such information following a ruling in favour of greater transparency prompted by an appeal from another local media outlet.

President Muizzu’s earlier promises of openness, where he assured that no Right to Information applications would be necessary during his term, are now being tested. These commitments were made in the backdrop of critical public and media scrutiny over the administration’s handling of appointments and transparency. The current reluctance to provide complete and accurate information not only contradicts these claims but also casts doubt on the administration’s dedication to accountability.

The discrepancy in the disclosed numbers and the actual details available publicly highlights a significant transparency gap that could potentially erode public trust in government operations. It raises serious concerns about the effectiveness of the mechanisms in place to ensure governmental accountability and the sincerity of commitments to transparency made at the highest levels of administration.