Malawi Human Rights Commission presses for speedy implementation of Access to Information Act

Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) officials say they need K350 million to successfully implement the Access to Information Act.

Nungu: We need the cash

MHRC executive director David Nungu said this when the committee appeared before parliament’s Media Committee to update it on the Access to Information Act (ATIA).

“The financial needs for the commission to efficiently and effectively oversee the implementation of the Act are K335, 759, 140 in total,” said Nungu.

The current budget for MHRC stands at K28 million.

He said the Act can only be in force after minister of Information Nicholas Dausi has appointed the commencement date in pursuance to Section 1 of the Act.

“Actually, the minister is more than ready to appoint the commencement date. It is us, the MHRC who are not yet ready. We need financial resources for us to get prepared before the Act is implemented. Our financial base is very thin,” said Nungu.

He said the commission needs to engage in massive awareness of the right of access to information among members of the public and information holders before asking the minister to trigger the implementation of the Act.

Nungu said the commission has developed a communication strategy for its responsibilities under the Act.

The commission will undertake its first public activity on ATIA on September 28 when it will lead the nation in commemorating International Right to Know Day.

Activities on the day shall include a press briefing on the commission’s and its stakeholders’ readiness to oversee and implement the Act, workshop with stakeholders to validate the draft guidelines and forms and panel discussions on the right to access to information.

Vice chairman of the Media Committee Godfrey Munkhondia said the committee would lobby for increased funding of the commission during the forthcoming mid-year budget review meeting of parliament.

“You really need resources. You need human capacity. You cannot carry out the responsibilities of the Act without resources. This is our Act, we have an interest to have it implemented and it yields its intended results,” he said.

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