Malawi cabinet rejects ATI bill

Malawi cabinet rejects ATI bill

Malawi’s government ministers, rejected the draft Access to Information Bill on the basis that it is filled with discrepancies. According to a news report in The Daily Times of Thursday, November 19, 2015 President Peter Mutharika dismissed the Bill, claiming it had “many inconsistencies”.

The Bill has since been sent back to a Cabinet Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for review.

During a meeting with MISA Malawi, Jappie Mhango, the Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education confirmed both the Cabinet meeting and the subsequent rejection of the bill by Cabinet. Mhango did not specify the ‘inconsistencies’ but assured MISA Malawi that the organization will be engaged to contribute to the review.

According to media reports Cabinet rejected the bill because they do not want the law applied retrospectively. Other contentious issues and concerns include the implementation of the legislation, the clause on whistle blower protection as well as the supremacy of the law over other legislation such as the Official Secrets Act.

Apparently Cabinet also wants the Ministry of Information to be the implementation agency and not the Malawi Human Rights Commission as was originally recommended by the Cabinet Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs which is chaired by Minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu.

Commenting on the matter, MISA Malawi chairperson Thom Khanje said the development vindicates rumors that president Peter Mutharika and his government was not committed to the enactment of the Bill despite campaign promises on the matter.

“We are disappointed with this development. The president is not honest and does not want to live up to his promise. He made false promises to Malawians just to get their votes.

“As MISA Malawi we will not stop to push for this important legislation. We believe that this law will help strengthen our democracy and foster meaningful development,” said Khanje.

MISA Malawi is currently working with different stakeholders for a united campaign, calling for enactment of the Bill.

For more information contact MISA Malawi chairperson Thom Khanje on mobile +265 888879 329 or e-mail: thomkhanje@yahoo.com or MISA Malawi National Director Aubrey Chikungwa on mobile +265999327311 or email info@misamalawi.org

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