Head of European Union (EU) delegation to Malawi , Marchel Gerrmann on Thursday urged the Malawi Government to push for enactment of access to information Bill (ATI) into law.
Gerrmann was speaking in Lilongwe during a luncheon which the ambassador organised for the members of Bwaila Media Club(BMC).
“The law will help to make government accountable to its people since the media and the citizens will have chance to ask and demand vital information from the Government, so failing or delay in passing the bill into law is denying citizens right to information,” said Gerrmann.
Gerrmann commended Malawi media for the role it is playing in educating and informing the masses in different topical issues of public interests.
However, the Ambassador was quick to urge media to be professional all the times.
“Let me take this opportunity to ask the media to be professional all the time. There has been some instances where the media has misquoted me,” said Gerrmann.
Speaking during the function, Bwaila Media Club(BMC) Chairperson, Peter Makawa, commended the Ambassador for giving the club members chance to interact with him.
Makawa said the BMC intends to engage local membership its audience and communities in club activities that underscore the importance of a free and transparent media that acts as vibrant agent of information between policy and decision makers.
Recently African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights asked Malawi government to provide the Commission with information on when the Access to Information bill will be tabled in Parliament and enacted.
The bill has undergone a number of reviews from a wide range of stakeholders, including MPs, civil society organisations, government ministries and judicial officers.
Due to political obstacles, the bill has not yet been enacted into law.
Malawi government through the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu pledged of government’s commitment to ensuring that Access to information bill is passed into law soon.
EU is a member of the disbanded Common Approach to Budgetary Support (Cabs) which suspended budget support to Malawi in September 2013 following revelations of abuse of public funds at Capital Hill commonly referred to as Cashgate.
Malawi depends on donors for 40 percent of its recurrent budget and 80 percent in the development budget.
Media watchdog MISA Malawi has been campaigning for legislation on ATI since 2003, with development of a draft ATI Bill. In 2009, government indicated that the ATI Bill could not be tabled in Parliament unless accompanied by a policy on the same.
The adoption of a Policy on ATI in January 2014 paved the way for finalization of the ATI Bill and its tabling in the National Assembly. MISA Malawi has been campaigning for legislation on ATI with funding from different partners chief among them Trilithons, OSISA and UNESCO.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :