Malawi Parliament has said it is unlikely that the Access to Information bill would be passed in this sitting, saying there is need to critically scrutinise the bill and probably make amendments as demanded by representatives of the media.
Chairperson of Media Committee of parliament Sam Kawale said after minister of Information Jappie Mhango presents the bill in the plenary in the House, it will be deferred to the committee for more scrutiny and input from other stakeholders.
He said the process might take long to meet this meeting of parliament deadline which rises in three weeks time.
“There are a number of areas that needs to be looked into. It might be passed in June,” said Kawale.
The media and other stakeholders have complained that the government has watered down contents of the bill that it is not making sense or defeating he whole essence of accessing information.
Media Institutive of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi chapter president Thom Khanje said his organisation would be lobbying parliament to reject the draft bill in the current form.
However, President Peter Mutharika said he would veto the bill if parliament changes.
He was against two sections that say the bill should not be repealed or changed in future and another one which gives power to people to access information retrospectively (which happened even before the bill came into effect).
However Kawale said parliament cannot pass into law a bill that is against the wishes of Malawians.
“Any mistake we are going to make will affect us negatively in future. We are not making laws for a specific person or party or government. We are not making laws to last five or 10 years. We will listen to the people so this bill will delay for now,” Kawale said.
It is not yet known when Mhango will present the bill which has been appearing on parliament’s order paper for weeks now.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :