Media Owners Association chairperson Mbumba Banda said on Saturday said politican were “very uncomfortable” in passing the Access to Information (ATI) Bill, saying the delays by authorities to enact an ATI legislation could create an environment for easy access of information in the country.
Banda, who is also Nation Publications Limited (NPL) chief executive officer, was speaking at the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) celebrations at Sunbird Nkopola Hotel in the resort town of Mangochi.
“For some reason, this law [ATI] makes politicians very uncomfortable,” said Banda.
“ This is something I have always failed to understand, because if our leaders really understood and appreciated that they hold their positions on behalf and on the sustained trust of all Malawians, there should be no qualms with making necessary information available to the same masses they purport to serve,” said Banda.
She also called on the media practitioners to be professionals as opposed to journalists who write to please individuals and organisations who make gains and fame for castigating others.
Minister of Information, Communications Technology and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati in her remarks at the event, assure that government is committed to table Access to Information Bill in parliament, saying there is nothing to fear.
“As government, we are not afraid of anything in enacting the ATI Bill into law. However we also fail to understand why government agenda is not given prominence in the country’s media,” Kaliati said.
Kaliati said the Access to Information Bill needs a lot of consultations before it is passed into a land mark law which will put Malawi on record as one of the 15 countries to have such law into place.
She said it was surprising to see people pressuring the DPP-led government into passing a law which would have been in place during past regimes.
Media Institute for Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter chairperson Thom Khanje appealed to government to withdraw the Bill, saying it does not wholly represent views of stakeholders and also called for the amendment of Communication Act to see Malawi Broadcasting Corporation independent.
“We call the government to reverse the bill to its original draft form,” Khanje said adding that it will not be a surprise to see the bill as the worst in the world.
Kaliati said the media “don’t care whether the bill will be tabled in 2024or not.”
She said government want to balance freedom of expression which safety checks on responsibility.
Misa- Malawi has since called on parliament to look into other laws that limit freedom of expression.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :