Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) has urged all stakeholders in Malawi to ensure the full implementation of Access to information law which was enacted last week and has described the development as a step in the right direction.
In a statement made available to Nyasa Times, Panos Institute Southern Africa Executive Director Lilian Kiefer, who congratulated the people of Malawi for the enactment of the Access to Information (ATI) law, said this will enable citizens to access information that is held by public entities.
“The enactment of the Access to Information Law in Malawi is a step in the right direction and a strong trigger for increased citizens’ participation in promoting accountability in the management of public resources in the country,” said Kiefer.
She said their work in Malawi focuses on creating platforms for informed citizens’ engagement and participation in development processes, and that this law will enhance their work as it will create an enabling environment for citizens to access information and engage meaningfully in developmental debates and dialogue.
Kiefer said PSAf believes that an informed citizenry equals meaningful citizen participation in fostering accountability in development processes.
“The ATI Act gives compels those holding public information to make it available to citizens. With this legislation in place, PSAf looks forward to increased citizens’ participation in the country’s governance and in combating corruption, which continues to rear its ugly head in the country.
“We are aware that this legislation has been elusive for many years, and even this time around, some political actors attempted – in vain – to block it,” She said.
She was however, was quick to stress that the challenge now is for all stakeholders to ensure the full implementation of this law.
“It is our hope as PSAf that the legislature, executive and judiciary will each play their part to ensure that the provisions of this law are adhered to. We look forward to the establishment of the Independent Information Commission that is provided for in the new law,” She said.
She also urged citizens to tap into the opportunities availed by this law to seek and access vital and life-saving information that is held by public entities.
“It is also our hope that this law will contribute to strengthened investigative journalism in the country, as journalists will now have improved access to information held by public entities.
On our part, we will continue to work with the media and other stakeholders to ensure that information is effectively used to drive development,” concludes Kiefer.