MISA Malawi seeks clarification from Minister of Information over ATI bill
The Media Institute of Southern Africa Malawi Chapter (MISA-Malawi) and officials from the Media Council of Malawi (MCM) met Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education Jappie Mhango in November 2015 to seek clarification on why Cabinet rejected the draft Access to Information Bill.
The two bodies also requested Mhango to arrange for the two organizations and other key stakeholders to meet President Arthur Peter Mutharika over the matter.
Malawi’s government ministers, during their cabinet meeting held on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 in Lilongwe, rejected the draft Access to Information Bill which has since been sent back to a Cabinet Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for review. Cabinet claims that the bill is filled with inconsistencies.
Mhango did not disclose the discrepancies highlighted by Cabinet but assured MISA and Media Council that the two bodies will be engaged to contribute to the review.
“I cannot state the exact reason why cabinet rejected the bill. But what we want is to table a bill which is watertight. We don’t want legal experts to find holes in this Bill. That is why we want a thorough job before the Bill is taken to Parliament.
“There is no time frame. But what I can say is that the President wants this Bill tabled as soon as possible,” Mhango said.
Speaking on behalf of the delegates, MISA Malawi vice chairperson Yvonnie Sundu pointed out that government’s decision was retrogressive and indicated the lack of political commitment.
“We are disappointed. Through you, Honorable Minister we would like to follow up on our request to meet the president. He promised Malawians on several occasions that the bill will be tabled in Parliament this year. Enactment of the ATI Bill was also one of the key issues in your government’s manifesto honorable minister,” said Sundu.
The minister has since promised to arrange for the meeting with the president and to ensure that the review process is expedited.
For more information contact MISA Malawi chairperson Thom Khanje on mobile +265 888879 329 or e-mail: email@example.com or MISA Malawi National Director Aubrey Chikungwa on mobile +265999327311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.