President Peter Mutharika has for the first time spelt out inconsistencies in the Access to Information bill draft, saying the draft bill wants to cover issues iretospectively – which happened before it becomes into effect – saying that is inconsistent with Commonwealth law.
Mutharika also faulted the draft bill for its clause which says ‘no future parliament should repeal the Access to Information law,’ saying parliament is sovereign and has powers to repeal any law.
The President was speaking at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe at a news conference.
“We are passing the bill not to please anybody, it is for our interest, we will pass the bill at one point,” said Mutharika indirectly attacking donors, the European Union for giving the government an ultimatum of December 31 to pass the bill or risk losing K80m in aid.
In angry tone, Mutharika said why are people pressuring his administration when Joyce Banda and Ralph Kasambara never had such pressure to pass the bill when they were in office.
Kasambara was minister of Justice in Joyce Banda administration.
“I have not taken any penny from the government and never will,” said Mutharika, suggesting people are pressurising him to pass the bill to investigate him on public financial plunder.
The government is struggling to explain how K577 billion of public money was used during the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and People’s Party administration as raised in an audit querry.
Mutharika, though not committal as to exactly when the bill will be brought to parliament, said the cabinet has an obligation to ensure that all bills are consistent with prevailing laws after which it will be sent back to the ministry of Justice for redrafting before sending it to parliament.
He hoped it will pass as law in this session of parliament which runs up to July next year.
Mutharika said he would not work under pressure just because civil society groups were issuing ultimatums to him.
“I don’t take deadlines, anybody putting deadlines on me is wasting time,” he said.
Mutharika came severe fire from civil society organisations, the media and the opposition for government failure to pass the Access to Information bill after numerous promises, contradictions and inconsistencies from the Information minister Jappie Mhango and other government officials.
“My Government has never been against the passing of the bill, but there are some inconsistencies in the Bill that need amendment, and once they are corrected it will be sent to cabinet where after being satisfied with the corrections will be drafted and sent to parliament,” said Mutharika.
President Mutharika said he is aware that some donors are attaching the ATI bill as a condition to the resuming of aid in the country.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :