Media body, Misa-Malawi officials have lobbied parliament to reject the Access to Information bill describing it as undemocratic and designed to serve a small group of the ruling elite.
The Misa-Malawi chairman Thom Khanje told MIJ radio Thursday the government “has heavily doctored and butchered the draft bill that it is now useless and cannot serve the interests of democratic Malawi.”
Khanje cited a clause in the draft bill which empowers the state to prosecute anyone who “abuses” information obtained from government offices and can be liable to a K2 million fine or serve jail term.
He said Malawi can only be the only place in the world where a person is convicted because of information, describing the scenario as retrogressive.
Khanje also said the government has put a clause in the draft ATI draft bill which says the Access to Information law would be subject to Official Secrecy Act, saying the Act is archaic and draconian fit in one party dictatorship and should have been removed from law books at the dawn of multiparty system of government.
“The bill has been drafted in a way it is not democratic and is aimed at serving a small group of the elite,” said Khanje indirectly referring to President Peter Mutharika, his cabinet and a few ruling party elite.
He said Namisa has since met officials from Media Committee and Legal Affairs Committee of parliament.
President Mutharika told representatives of the media recently that he would veto a bill that has been amended in parliament, an indication there will be a show down between opposition members of parliament and civil society on one hand and Mutharika and his government on the other over ATI which the ruling Democratic Progressive Party used as a campaign tool in the run up to the 2014 general election.