Malawi state rights body seeks more funding after Information law responsibility

Officials from Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) are seeking extra funding after the surprise and shock passing of Access to Information bill in members of parliament rare ‘night shift’.

Dzonzi: We will need more funds

The opposition on Wednesday forced the reluctant govenment legislators to sit late in parliament to pass the Access to Information Bill (ATI) amid frantic calls from Leader of the House, George Chaponda to shelve debate on the bill.

This means ATI will now be administered at cash-strapped MHRC whose chair Justin Dzonzi is seeking more funding.

“What it means now is that we will create a subcommittee of commissioners on ATI, we will set up an information directorate within the commission and we will have to employ more people, all this will need more money,” he said.

He said the commission has experience in handling such issues as it is also responsible for the Gender Equality Commission.

It is not known if President Peter Mutharika will assent to the Bill as he earlier warned he would not do so if parliament changed some clauses.

However, Media Institute of Southern Africa (Miasa) Malawi chapter chairperson Thom Khanje said Malawi is bigger than Mutharika therefore he is supposed to assent to the bill because Malawians have spoken through their members of parliament.

“Malawians have spoken through the MPs and the President has to do what Malawians want. He swore to uphold the Constitution and it would be against the Constitution if he does not assent to the bill,” he said.

Information minister Malisen Ndau said he would not speak for the President on whether he would assent to the bill or not. ”

It is up to him to make the decision,” said Ndau.

The chairman of the Media Committee of Parliament Sam Kawale hailed the opposition MPs for putting up a grand battle in parliament to pass the bill.

“I feel like going on leave now,” said Kawale.

He was upbeat Mutharika would assent the bill into law despite the changes.

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