Monday, 2nd February, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION BILL NOT ON THE AGENDA FOR THE CURRENT SITTING OF PARLIAMENT
The Media Institute of Southern Africa – Malawi Chapter (MISA-Malawi) has learned with shock that the much awaited Access to Information (ATI) Bill is not on the agenda for tabling during the sitting of Parliament which starts today in Lilongwe.
The bill was not tabled during the last August House due to what government called ‘limited time to review the bill.’ The technocrats at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs indicated that they needed time to review the bill and we were told that the bill would be tabled during the next session of the August House – which is the one which starts in Lilongwe today.
MISA-Malawi is disappointed because ATI ranked highly in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) campaign and manifesto and President Peter Mutharika also committed his administration to promote free flow of information and enact the ATI Bill.
We therefore find government’s failure to bring the bill in the current sitting of Parliament as a sign of laxity and lack of seriousness on the part of some officials in the present administration considering that the President has repeatedly promised to enact the bill since he was sworn in as President in May last year.
MISA-Malawi appeals to President Mutharika to intervene on the matter and ensure that the bill is prepared for discussion and consideration in the present sitting of Parliament. Failure by the government to bring the bill in Parliament this time around will put into question the integrity and commitment of his administration on the bill which is important not only to the media but also to all Malawians who are currently being denied access to a lot of basic information they need to make informed decisions and exercise their democratic and economic rights.
MISA-Malawi would like to assure its members, the entire media fraternity and the general public that it will continue to lobby for the enactment of the Access to Information Bill to ensure that Malawians enjoy their constitutionally guaranteed right to access information.