The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government is “taking the citizens’ trust for granted” through continued delays in tabling the Access to Information (ATI) bill in Parliament, two prominent human rights groups have said.
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Timothy Mtambo, and Centre for Development of People (Cedep), Gift Trapence, made the accusation on Thursday following contradictory remarks from Capital Hill regarding the tabling of the bill
In a statement Mtambo and Trapence expressed shock at the delay in tabling the Information, saying it is unwarranted and an insult to Malawians.
The human rights campaigners described the delay as unfortunate, saying “Malawians can no longer entertain further excuses on the bill” from President Peter Mutharika and his government.
“By promising Malawians what he cannot deliver, as is the case with ATI and other numerous instances, the incumbent [Mutharika] is simply taking the citizens’ trust for granted.
“To this end, we call upon the President and the DPP [Democratic Progressive Party] government to ensure that the ATI bill is passed into law in the current sitting of Parliament,” reads the statement.
During the opening the 46th session of Parliament recently, President Mutharika stressed that the bill will be tabled during the current session.
But in a statement released on Wednesday, Information and Civic Education Minister, Jappie Mhango, said Cabinet rejected the bill on Tuesday because of “inconsistencies therein” and that a Cabinet Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has since been directed to resolve the inconsistencies.
Mhango assured that “Government is doing everything possible to ensure that the Bill is ready for presentation in the National Assembly during the current session. ”
Since 2003, the bill has undergone numerous reviews. In 2007, a draft Bill on Access to Information was ready to be tabled for debate in parliament but the Ministry of Information was sent back to the drawing board to develop an Access to Information Policy which was passed in parliament in January this year.
If passed, the Access to Information law will among others, provide for the right of access to information; define the scope of public information the public has the right to access; establish the (Independent) Public Information Commission and define its functions; as well as promote transparency and accountability of public officers.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :