Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Nicholas Dausi, has lauded the newly passed access to information (ATI) law saying it is going to improve transparency and accountability in the way public funds are used in councils.
Speaking on Friday during a meeting with District Executive Committee (DEC) members Dausi said the ATI is permitting public scrutiny of government related documents hence it is going to break a culture of secrecy in councils.
“This law is not useful to journalists only as widely believed. Even rural masses stand to benefit as they are going to be able to access information on the use of council funds and be able to hold officers accountable,” he said.
He said there have been high levels of corruption in the implementation of Local Development Fund (LDF) projects because the public could not challenge council officials to release information on the awarding of contracts and procurement of project materials.
“Consequently, some unscrupulous council officials have been awarding contracts to inexperienced contractors after collecting kickbacks from them. That is the reason we are seeing poor workmanship in most LDF projects despite government pumping in enormous financial resources,” he said.
Corruption, Dausi added, thrives when there is poor flow of information to the public hence the ATI law is a milestone in fighting corruption at local and national level.
He said his ministry is conducting meetings with DEC members in various councils across the country to popularize the ATI law and other bills which the government intends to introduce in parliament including the cyber security bill.
District Commissioner (DC) for Dedza, James Manyetera said the council would make sure it sensitizes communities in the district on the new piece of legislation so that they should be aware of their freedom of information.