Minister of Information and Civic Education Kondwani Nankhumwa has disclosed that the much touted tabling of the Access to Information (ATI) Bill during the current session of 2014-2015 national budget will not be possible, saying the draft bill and Communications Repeal Act.will be tabled in the next sitting of parliament.
Speaking when he updated media stakeholders on the progress of the bill in Lilongwe on Tuesday, he said, it is not possible to table the bill in the current sitting because it is still in the hands of Ministry of Justice for vetting.
“We found out that there were still some consultation mainly with government principal secretaries which we have already done.
“We have finalised everything and presented the final paper to the Ministry of Justice. We are now waiting for the plenary cabinet to look into it so that it is brought to parliament,” he said.
He added that the bill has delayed to go to parliament after discovering that it still needed some inputs to be adopted and others to be taken out through consultations with stakeholders like principal secretaries, parliamentary committee chairpersons on Media and Communication and Legal Affairs.
The consultations have taken almost two months and may also take another month for it to be published in the gazette, he said.
Nankhumwa also ruled out misconceptions that the bill is for journalists only.
“This bill will go beyond journalists, it will empower local Malawians to be able to ask for the accountability of several developments in their areas either from both government and non government organisations,” he observed.
However, Journalist Union of Malawi (JUMA) Secretary General Charles Mkula said they are disappointed with the development.
“We are very disappointed that once more we have to wait longer for something that has been there for over a decade,” he said.
Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Director Timothy Mtambo said government should learn to promise what they will deliver.
“Why should they give promises on something that will not be possible? This is not the time for empty promises and confusing statements,” he said.
The bill was drafted in 2003 with the aim of creating conducive environment for access to public information.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :