Misa Malawi chair gives govt thumbs-down over Information bill delay

The Access to Information (ATI) Bill, which Malawi President Peter Mutharika promised to implement and expedite its enactment process, is not among the items on the agenda for the sitting of Parliament which started on Monday.

Khanje: We need information bill as soon as yesterday

Khanje: We need information bill as soon as yesterday

But Mutharika, who has been promising to expedite the process to enact the Access to Information Bill into law, says his government will table the Bill in subsequent sittings of Parliament along with bills that have also been left out.

Ironically, this is contrary to his earlier promise made when he took over the presidency that bill would be presented in the last sitting of Parliament which took place in September 2014.

Addressing Journalists in Lilongwe Tuesday, Mutharika reiterated that his government is aware that access to information is a major challenge for the media to ably play their important role.

“Priority has been given bills that were left out in previous sittings of parliament. Parliament cannot table all bills at one go. Other bills including the Access to Information and Mining Bill will be tabled during the next sitting of parliament.

“My government still committed to tabling to the access to information bill,” said Mutharika.

But reacting to this, Misa Malawi chairperson Thom Khanje doubted if the bill will breath to life.

“Despite all the promises by the President (Mutharika) and his government on ATI, history seems to be repeating itself on the bill.

“Since 2003 when the Media Institute of Southern Africa- Malawi Chapter (Misa-Malawi) started the campaign on ATI, all the three previous governments have played similar games and tricks on the bill,” said Khanje.

He therefore said to hear that the bill is not the agenda for Parliament is “quiet disappointing, frustrating and worrying”.

“Has the Peter Mutharika government now started playing tricks on ATI? Were the promises in the manifesto and maiden speeches just smokescreen?” queried Khanje.

According to him, delays in processing the bill at both the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Justice have the potential to put the integrity of the administration into question as they will be seen as people who can’t keep their promises.

“It is not too late to bring the Access to Information Bill into Parliament before the current sitting rises. President Mutharika needs to intervene on the matter to make sure that officials in the Ministry of Justice process the bill and make it ready for discussion in the National Assembly,” said Khanje.

He also said 20 years is too long a time for Malawians to continue being given excuses on the bill.

“With all the promises and lies we have heard in the past regarding the bill, it will be difficult for anybody to take any more promises on the bill.

“What the people and the media want now is presentation of the bill in Parliament and nothing else.

“Thumbs down to the government technocrats for letting down the President,” he stressed.

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Kingsley Jika
Guest
There is no question that the country needs Access to Public Information legislation, ATPIL or ATI, if you want. ATI is a key to transparency, accountability, responsiveness, and legitimacy. In fact, ATI would be a solution to most problems dogging our beautiful nation, Malawi, because it empowers the public to monitor their servants – those entrusted with leadership. My fear however is that the way the issue of ATI is put forth is as if it is solely an agenda by the media and for the media. The media ought to work to divorce themselves from ATI while setting agenda… Read more »
Mpezeni Phiri
Guest
Everyone knows that you Thom Khanje your a big time DPP supporter. you were even given financial support by the statehouse through its press office during the time you were campaigning for this position some three months ago. Lero ndi uyu ukakanika kulankhura zoveka instead you are accusing wrong people instead of pointing fingers to Peter Mutharika and his information minister Nankhumwa just because your a DPP supporter since Bingu’s era. Malawian journalists including you mumangogwitsidwa ntchito ngati condom by politicians especially those from the rulling side because your poor. local scribes even fail to fight for their own financial… Read more »
ANALYST
Guest

Thom Khanje is himself DPP! He should not be surprised that the bill is not going to be tabled coz he (Khanje) knows the party inside out!

Achimidzimidzi
Guest

Mr. Khanje, I do understand your frustrations.
Unfortunately, you’re dealing with the people since 2003, politicians.

Lest you forget, this ruling party had to cheat for them to win general election. The previous government, was just a trustee kind of, nothing serious did they do.

Just to give you hope; keep on waiting, time will come when your bill will be tabled.

proud
Guest

Akhanje mwatchukatu — thukuta lanu limeneli, pitirizani kulimbika

The Truthful One from the West
Guest
The Truthful One from the West
Are sure Mr Khanje it is government technocrats who have let down the president on this matter? Do you have evidence for this serious accusation? Mr Khanje you are accusing people who cannot answer back. It is Nankhumwa whom you should accuse because he is Minister of Information and govt spokesperson and he can answer back. Mr Khanje on this you have goofed big time. If this is how you will act as Chairperson of Misa then you will bring Misa into disrepute. Public servants whom you call technocrats work under the directions of Ministers and the president. I assure… Read more »
kanchenga.
Guest

I am also surprised that he is accusing the wrong people like that. You see now how hopeless you become when you allow your conscious to be compromised for cheap gains. You are now unable to face these politicians incase they remind you of the road you traveled together.

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