As the debate rages on the Access to Information Bill(AIT) I feel compelled to contribute to the debate. The AIT is vital to the deepening and consolidation of genuine democracy and economic prosperity in Malawi.
I, therefore, listened with keen interest to a broadcast by the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation(MBC) of the meeting between the the State President and Media owners held at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe.
What caught my attention and interest was the State President’s clear statement that he will veto( that is he will not assent) the AIT bill if it goes to him with inconsistencies. One of the inconsistencies that was mentioned is that the ATI should not apply retrospectively.
In view of the foregoing let me state the following facts:
- The Presidents(Salaries and Benefits)Act which came into force in December 1994 was made to apply retrospectively so that former state presidents are covered by the Act. There is therefore a precedent for
a civil law to apply retrospectively.
- The Constitution of the Republic of Malawi under section 44(1)(f) prohibits retrospective criminalisation only.
3.Section 66 of the Constitution gives the National Assembly power to amend any bill presented to it.
- Section 73 of the Constitution deals with Presidential assent to bills. The section clearly provides that if a bill is not assented to the bill has to go back to the National Assembly where if it is passed again by a majority of the National Assembly the State President has to assent to the bill.
It is clear that under section 73 the power of the state president to withhold assent is limited.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :