Mutharika’s obstinate stance on ATI bill stuns Prof Wiseman, Malawi media

President Peter Mutharika on Thursday vowed to veto an Access to Information (ATI) bill if it goes with what he described as inconsistencies, rendering the three hour audience with media owners and managers useless.

Mutharika posing with media managers

Mutharika posing with media managers

Leader of the media owners and managers, Professor Chijere Chirwa, who is also the chairman of Media Council of Malawi said he was surprised with the stance taken by the President.

Chijere Chirwa, a professor at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, stressed to the President the importance of ATI legislation in fostering accountability, reducing corruption and removing mistrust between government and its citizens.

“The right of access to information protects and promotes the collective good in a country. It is an integral part of human rights. We, therefore, request you as custodian of the Constitution to ensure that this bill is tabled during this March sitting of Parliament.”

But  Mutharika said he was against two sections in the bill, a section that prohibits the repealing of the would be law in future and another one that would allow people access information even before the law became into effect.

“I am against Section 6 paragraph 2 that restricts future parliaments from changing it. This is unacceptable. I will not sign this bill into law if this section is maintained. I can’t accept it. Future parliaments can even repeal the Republican Constitution as long as procedures are followed,” Mutharika said.

He also said it was wrong to pass the law that would allow people access information which happened before the law came into effect, saying   retrospective action does not happen.

“This provision does not make sense. This kind of legislation is wrong under Common Law. If this passes in parliament, I will veto the bill,” said the President.

Mutharika said this is what cabinet agreed and he has no powers to reverse a cabinet decision because, he said, it is a collective responsibility.

Chijere Chirwa  asked Mutharika to clearly explain to Malawians and various stakeholders his reservations with the bill in its draft form and reject any attempts at adulterating it, especially on the establishment of an Independent Information Commission which would be responsible for oversight of the legislation.

Mutharika said Malawians should decide if the law is good and not to be pushed by international community.

“Malawians should decide what is good for them,” he said, adding that if Malawians feel ATI is good for the country, it will be passed into law.

Minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu said the draft bill has been circulated to relevant bodies for scrutiny ahead of a cabinet legal affairs committee meeting on Monday on the same.

Chijere Chirwa said later the media owners and managers will continue engaging Mutharika and his government on the matter.

Media watchdog Miss Malawi legal advisor Mandala Mambulasa and Tembenu clashed on a point of law several times in the presence of Mutharika and reporters who were allowed to sit in during the closed door session and the recording was aired on MBC.

Mutharika’s administration has come under fire from various stakeholders, including media owners, managers, civil society and donors, for failing to table the ATI Bill.


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20 thoughts on “Mutharika’s obstinate stance on ATI bill stuns Prof Wiseman, Malawi media”

  1. God knows says:

    Don’t make our country keep on not operating well, sometimes you people must know how to choose better presidents, that is not a leader of nation but gays and lasbians, a fully Satanism, let him go to hail ,as am out of there but i need good result man

  2. william says:

    Am so anxious to evade the obliviousness of who composed this legislation so complicated in our president’s view?Is it the western powers or a separate organisation operating underground in our lovely country?In my opinion,it is a grave mistake to adopt laws with the aim of playing a good kid as they will come haunting one day.Let those who are in power or the most prominent in our societies divulge the details contained in this legislation.It should be unanimously agreed upon by the ordinary people of this country to avoid anarchy.It seems some people have sinister motives behind their partisan for this bill to be tabled.It is these such agendas that exacerbate situations and promote instability in a country.I agree absolutely with KINGSLEY JIKA in his point of view.

  3. Daniel says:

    Malawi is Bigger than all those who have and will call themselves as presidents of this country
    Delaying tactics will not work you can run but you can not hide. Malawians have suffered Big time and are poorer now bcoz theft by their leaders has been institutionalized
    Enough is enough ‘Mwaba mokwanila’ We need this Bill Now and untempered with

  4. patrick says:

    Hahahaha nanunso amene mumapanga draft bill imeneyi mwaonjeza. zitheka bwanji bill kukhala yamuyaya osazaisinthanso. ameneo ndiye malamulo ausamunda. Malawi ndi democratic country palibe cholesa kuti lamulo lisasinthidwe ngati anthu awona kuti nkofunika kutero

  5. Blunt Truth says:

    I am very surprised that Peter Mutharika as a Professor of Law does not know that a civil law such as the Access of Information bill can be applied retrospectively. For example the 1994 Presidents(Salaries and Benefits)Act was applied retrospectively. It is only criminal law that cannot be applied retrospectively(see section 44(1)(f) of the Republic of Malawi of constitution. Secondly the power by the President to veto a bill is severely limited by the constitution. When a vetoed bill is again passed by parliament the constitution orders the president to sign it. For those interested read section 73 of the Republic of Malawi constitution. Also section 66 gives power to the National Assembly to amend any bill presented to it.

  6. George Kamanga says:

    A dog like you APM will always be afraid. Let the past be known. What your late brother and all DPP members plundered must be exposed. The past will always haunt you. Mbava yotheratu iwe.

  7. 2016 welcome says:

    Kuzolowera kuchita zinthu mobisa the Mutharikas. That’s their key formula to success. Transparency never exists in the language of DPP. And Mr President your stand on donor influence is inconsistent and tha smacks a thought process that is so brittle, so labile that you seem to stand for nothing. You are devoid of substance to lead at presidential level. Your dazzling academic background and international exposure adds no value. It’s just like any street boy. Your late brother was far much better than you. You are a feeble mind, indecisive and always uncertain. A crucible of hesitation until Ben Phiri tells you what to do as a result you come out when you are supposed to be in, you stay in when you are suppose to come out on issues. No wonder you performed dismally as minister of education and justice.

  8. susu says:

    I support Yu Mr President Ana anthu adzalephere kusintha zinthu molingana ndi nthawi yawo,and lamulo likakzazikitsidwa timayambira pa tsiku limenero tiyang’aniranjinso za mmbuyo bravo Peter

  9. Kingsley Jika says:

    There are a number of policy areas (not personal) on which I take a different stance from the President’s but not on this one. The question of context and history is so important on issues of policy and law, and wholesale copying of legislation from elsewhere to make it work in your context can be a recipe for disaster. All along I have advocated for this legislation to draw a line and never to look into history to undo made graves because the consequence of which this nation cannot bear. I am not saying we must forget history, no; there is a lot in our history which we must revisit if we mean true healing but that should be under a different roof and channel. All governments that served us (MCP, UDF, DDP 1, PP), owe us some explanation, but it takes wisdom to dig history for, the best use of history is to remake the world through healing and reconciliation.

    Even on the second point, the President is not entirely wrong; it is suicide to make for ourselves a piece of legislation that when it becomes a thorn will refuse revisit. And by ‘thorn’, I’m not looking at it from the angle of politicians, no, but I’m conscious of the fact that we must never divorce other personal freedoms from the total picture when we are discussing issues of access to public information. And, if the Constitution itself accepts repeal, why do we go hermetic on this legislation, refusing a revisit where Malawians (not politicians) will see a need to)?

  10. Chidothi says:

    A Malawi tiwone tokha apa kuti Peter pali chimene akufuna tisadziwe chomwe iye anapanga mmbuyomu chomwe ndicholakwika. Akaniranji kuti anthu adziwe za mmbuyo. Iye akuopa chani? Iye ngati sali wokonzeka kusayinila bill imeneyi atule pansi udindo umene ife tinampatsa. Akuona ngati mfundo yakeyo yokomera ife a Malawi? Kutsogolo kuno abale anga chonde tidzavotere mosawona mtundu kapena chipembedzo chifukwa ndizimene zikutipeeteketsa zimenezi.Tikasankha mwanzeru tidzakonzaso tsogolo la ana athu. Mavuto ali mdziko munowa ndi kamba ka utsogoleri opanda masomphenya ngakhale tinamizire donors sizitithandiza. Kodi ma donors kuno ndi kwawo? Chifunika ndi utsogoleri wa nzeru zakuya ndieofunira dziko lino zabwino. Sindikuona kuti kukana kusayinira bill ya bwino ngati imeneyi ndikulifunira dziko lino zabwino koma kudzifunira okha zabwino. Atsogoleri ngati awa akufuna kupha anthu ngati ife amene tili osauka. Ambuye wakumwamba imvani kulira kwathu. Tinalakwitsa kuyimba munthuyu pa mpando.Its very regretable.

  11. membe says:

    dictators are cowards they dont last in long in democracy they are killed by their own cowardice

  12. dzambo says:

    Looking at the photo, gender yavuta pa media in malawi. Only one woman, hope she was not a state house official!

  13. dzambo says:

    a pulezident, information ndi information basi. It doesnt matter whether its past or present. What are you fearing? If you have messed up in the past, which Iam sure you have, it will follow you. There is no rest for the wicked!

  14. Awk says:

    Wakuba amadana ndikuwala!

  15. jofwido says:

    When it finally dawns on APM just how dire Malawi’s economic situation is, all the imaginary concerns in the ATI will melt away. It is pathetic that the Mutharika’s use the high office of President to show how obstinate they can be. Bingu almost brought this country down to its knees, just to show how “tough” he could be – in the end he collapsed before Malawi collapsed.

    Now comes the younger brother trying to repeat the same scenario. Why he can’t instruct Tembenu to simply remove the “inconsistencies” beats me. Of course MCP and PP could try to bring back the clauses; but the bill itself is Government’s responsibility. It therefore does not make sense for Govt to delay in bringing the Bill for debate. If MCP and PP throw it out that will be another matter.

    2016 promises to be an extremely tough year economically for Malawi, mainly due to the absence of donors. A caring President would really think twice before doing anything that may prolong instead of alleviating the suffering of his fellow countrymen.

    It is adding insult to injury for APM to suggest that he is protecting Malawians’ interests when in fact he is only concerned about his own selfish interests…

  16. Buyelekhaya Nginde says:

    Chiripo ndithu chomwe Bwanawa akuopa BIloyo ikadzakhala lamulo mmene ilirimu. Munthu wamkulu akupitiliza kumenyetsa nkhwangwa pamwala!

  17. La 40 Lakwana says:

    The pariament is there to pass laws , it seems this man has accumulated a lot of wealth and powers to an extent of challenging the pariament.

  18. bobby says:

    Mr President you are very right. I don’t think the media owners can for see that far such that there will be no need for amendment. Let them know that we are all people and that the world is fast changing.

    Again applying a law retrogressively is never acceptable.

    Please be objective enough a Malawi.

  19. Angozo says:

    Please school me on the caption “retrospective action does not happen”. Is this backed by law or it is his wish it should not happen in Malawi. Why does he (APM) have reservations with this?

    1. Kumavalo Nsamaonetsa Nyoni says:

      To put it simply Muthalika is saying,

      1.If you bring a new law into effect, it starts in the future,or Now.

      Tax is law, so if the tax rate is set at 30% this year, what Malawians are saying is, the 30% should apply to last year and the year before, so that if tax last year was 20% you should pay 10% for last years tax. That is what Murthalika is disagreeing with.

      2.If you bring a new law into effect, there is always a provision that if the country feels the law is not working you can get rid of it.

      Malawians as saying the law on information should never change, so that if in future we find that we made a mistake, “Zanu izo” the law remains. Muthalika is also against that.

      Angozo can you reply.

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