Malawi media owners petition President Mutharika over ATI

Malawi media owners petition President Mutharika over ATI

Media owners and managers in Malawi, under the coordination of the MISA Malawi Chapter and the Media Council of Malawi, have petitioned President Peter Mutharika to make public the ‘inconsistencies’ in the draft Access to Information Bill and to ensure that the Bill is tabled before Parliament rises this December.

Malawi government ministers, during their cabinet meeting held on Tuesday, November 17, 2015, rejected the draft Access to Information Bill and sent it back to a Cabinet Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for review citing “inconsistencies” in the bill.

No further details were provided but the Daily Times of Thursday, November 19, 2015 reported that cabinet dismissed the Bill because they do not want the law applied retrospectively and to have whistle blower protection.

Cabinet apparently 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.

In the petition, made public on November 24, the media owners and managers called on Mutharika to exercise his executive powers and ensure that the bill goes to Parliament in its original form as drafted by experts following wide consultation with stakeholders.

“We want the President to ensure that the inconsistencies are made public and that the bill is tabled in Parliament during this sitting.

“As it stands, we have agreed to carry stories and campaign messages on ATI in all media outlets for a period of one month. We will continue doing this until the Bill is tabled in Parliament,” explained MISA Malawi chairperson Thom Khanje.

Apart from the media sector, a group of over 20 civil society organisations have also joined the ATI campaign and have given government an ultimatum to disclose the inconsistencies and table the Bill in Parliament.

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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