Rights defenders persuade Malawi President Mutharika to approve Access to Information law

Human rights campaigners in Malawi are urging President Peter Mutharika to support Access to Information Bill that has been passed by Parliament by assenting into law to improve accountability in government and reduce corruption.

Timothy Mtambo of CHRR, Trapence and Rev Macdonald Sembereka: President Mutharika  urged by rights groups to follow parliament’s lead by signing bill

Parliament with the urge of opposition on Wednesday passed the Information bill which has taken 12 years to get enacted.

Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) and other human rights activists joined the rest of Malawians in congratulating the opposition legislatures and celebrating the passing of the long awaited Access to Information Bill/

The opposition Members of Parliament (MP’s) stood firm to defeat the government MP’s on who through Leader of the House George Chaponda tried all they could to shield the opposition aiming at stopping the passing of the bill.

CEDEP Executive Director Gift Trapence told Nyasa Times that apart from different stakeholders, the opposition deserves a part on the back for their tireless effort in making sure that the bill is finally passed.

He therefore said now the nation must rally together in reaping the results of a legislation that has taken us such a long time to have.

“The  Centre  for  Development  congratulate the Parliament  more especially the Opposition members    on  using  their numerical  strength  to  have  the  Access  to  Information Bill passed.

“Parliament on both sides of the divide must be congratulated for exhaustively discussing and passing this bill as such is what democracy entails” said Trapence in a statement released on Thursday made available to Nyasa Times.

Another human rights campaigner Rev Macdonald Sembereka told Nyasa Times that he is happy that finally “democracy has won.”

Sembereka said: ” Malawians must breathe a sigh of relief that finally democracy has won and it is my hope that now that the bill has been passed, the onus is on the State President to do the right thing, which is to assent to it in its entirety.”

This was exactly in line with what Trapence said in his statement.

“Like Parliament, the President’s powers are held sorely on the premise of the citizens’ trust. I
do hope that the State President will stand out as a democrat on this piece of legislation” wrote Trapence.

According to the activists, with the increased levels of corruption in the country, it is expected that the Access to Information law will help in containing the voice by making information readily available to the public.

Among other things, it is believed that the Access to information laws will also improve welfare of Malawians in  different  sectors for instance  the  right  to  health  and  right  to  education.

“With  ATI  laws  in  place,  government  will  feel  compelled  to disclose  the  whole process  of  drug  acquisition  ranging  from the  source.  In education, citizens will have access to information on important issues like University selection criteria in full” said Trapence.

Warning on delay to assent

Activist Allie Mwachande has warned  the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) against playing tricks in influencing or causing a delay for the President to delay in assenting to the Bill.

“DPP and UDF were unhappy with the bill from the word go and we are warning them against trying to influence the President not to assent the bill or causing a delay” said Mwachande without disclosing the next course of action.

He said the Information law shines a public light on issues that has long been kept hidden.

The Access to Information bill has been frustrated by three successive governments, amid heavy criticism from the media and civil society.

President Mutharika has previously said he would not approve it if certain amendments proposed by the government are rejected.

Chairperson of Media Institute of Southern Africa, Thom Khanje, has called on the President to sign the bill.

“The government has been operating in secret and now it is time for Malawians to demand expenditure of every penny,” Khanje said.

The Speaker is expected to send the bill to State House for President’s assent to make it law.

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Guest

let’s jst hope pitala agrees to the contents

Matako
Guest
Bravo to the opposition for passing this bill. We just want you to know that you are not alone in your efforts to expose corrupt practices in our country. We will continue to seek support of our development partners as we seek the best way forward for our country. It is our hope that if president Muthalika has the interest of our country in his heart will without delay assent this bill into law. We will continue to fight until our country and economy is rescued from scavengers whose only motive is to loot state resources which they have done… Read more »
Kilindabwite
Guest

Wow! this is fantastic! ATI is only a way to go. Let the president approve the bill as soon as possible so that we clear the mess. Government side is scared because they have amassed wealth dubiously. Bravo Opposition!!!!

Fleza kunthemba
Guest

as 2019 manifesto? kkkkkkk we are not sill sleeping. don’t waste ur time

Wototatota
Guest

It is not a must for APM to sign into law what he doesn’t agree with. It’s stupid to say Malawians have decided because some of us have rejected the bill in its entirety. If what parliament passes must be signed into law then the law could have been explicit otherwise the President has powers either to assent or not. In any case a good number of parliamentarians did not support the motion and they represent us. How will the bill end corruption as some of you are intimating? Stupid imbeciles

Mzwanya
Guest

Were observations of the president in the bill corrected or remained the same?

Guanta
Guest

Roles swapped on ATI bill. Govt side played the ‘opposition’ yet its them who introduced the bill. Govt opposing a bill which they hv brought to be passed. Very very funny !! Nzosekesa. Zikutanthauza chani?

Mzwanya
Guest

were the observations of the president in ATI bill correted or remained unchanged?

Lt. Frazer Chakhaza
Guest
Bravo to all opposition MPs who supported the passing of the bill. Bravo to democracy. Brave to all MISA Malawi, bravo to NAMISA and bravo to all journalists and media houses and all activists who fought hard to ensure that the ATI bill is passed during current sitting of Parliament. It is only hoped that Peter Mutharika will not play any games or monkey tricks by not assenting to the bill. It will suicidal for him because this bill is for the benefit of every citizen of Malawi and beyond. We needed this bill way back in 2004 therefore it… Read more »
Khwanya
Guest

SAINANI SAINANI LERO! OH SAINA…. OH PETER MCHITA USAINA? OH SAINA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Zilibwino kobasi.

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