- The Chairperson of MEC, Justice Maxon Mbendera SC
- Hon Commissioners of MEC,
- Your Excellencies members of the Diplomatic Corps and Representatives of all Development Partners
- Chief Elections Officer, Mr Willie Kalonga and your deputies and all members of staff of the MECSecretariat
- Paramount Chiefs
- The Chairperson for the Centre for Multi-Party Democracy (CMD)
- Secretaries General, Directors of Elections and all distinguished political party leaders.
- Senior Government Officials
- Distinguished Members from the Civil Society Organisations
- Distinguished Members of the Press
- Ladies and Gentlemen
Each year, MISA Malawi conducts qualitative and quantitative research on a selected number of key public institutions to assess their level of transparency and openness to the general public. Underline GENERAL PUBLIC and not just to the media as most people believe. The research includes sending questionnaires, critiquing websites for usefulness and relevance; and making written and oral requests for information under the guise of media students seeking information for their studies.
MISA Malawi has been conducting the research since 2009 to motivate public bodies to be open. The study is also aimed at justifying the need for legislation on Access to Information.
The study is designed to assess the level of openness in public institutions.
When the research is completed, MISA Malawi awards a Golden Key Award to the ‘Most Open Public Institution’ and a Golden Padlock Award to the “Most Secretive Public Institution’.
The award is given as part of commemoration of the World Right to Know Day which falls on September 28 every year.
This year, 10 public institutions were sampled and these included Blantyre City Assembly, Blantyre Water Board, Central Medical Stores Trust, Department of Disaster Management Affairs, National Aids Commission (MEC), Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Ministry of Industry and Trade as well as the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.
As most of you are already aware, the Malawi Electoral Commission has for the second year running won the Golden Key award as the Most Open and Transparent Public Institution in Malawi. The Commission won the award for the first time last year.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate MEC chairperson Justice Maxon Mbendera SC and your fellow commissioners, the chief elections officer Mr Willie Kalonga and your staff and in a special way, my friend and colleague Sangwani Mwafulirwa and your team at the MEC public relations office for a job well done.
MEC was presented with the award during a ceremony MISA Malawi hosted at Malawi Sun Hotel in Blantyre on Wednesday, September 30, 2015.
MEC was awarded the Golden Key Award after responding well to request for information. The commission was also found to have a well functioning website and associated social media platforms which were being updated regularly to keep the public informed.
Ladies and gentlemen, you may wish to know that during the study, only 3 out of 10 institutions sampled responded to requests for information. The study established that most public institutions do not actively or proactively provide information to members of the public.
This is worrying considered that Section 37 of the Malawi Constitution guarantees the right to access information held by public bodies. This right includes an obligation on the part of public bodies to proactively provide information to Malawians as well as the duty of such structures to give Malawians information if requested.
So much about the lamentations. I’m only here to once again present the award to the Malawi Electoral Commission and congratulate them for once again being recognised as the most open and transparent public institution in Malawi through the Golden Key Award which they have claimed for the second year running.