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Malawi Cabinet Rejects ATI Bill

WINDHOEK, Namibia, 21 November 2015  -- Malawi's government ministers, during their cabinet meeting held on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 in Lilongwe, rejected the draft Access to Information Bill which has since been sent back to a Cabinet Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for review. The Cabinet claims that the bill is filled with inconsistencies. The Daily Times of Thursday, November 19, 2015 reports that President Peter Mutharika dismissed the Bill, claiming it had ‘many inconsistencies.'  Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education Jappie Mhango confirmed the meeting and rejection of the bill by Cabinet in a meeting with MISA Malawi Thursday, November 19, 2015.

 

Mhango did not specify the inconsistencies but pointed out that MISA Malawi will be engaged to contribute to the review.

 

However, media reports indicate that Cabinet rejected the bill because they do not want the law applied retrospectively. Other contentious issues include whistle blower protection and supremacy of the law over other laws such as the Official Secrets Act and implementation of the legislation. Cabinet apparently wants the Ministry of Information to be the implementation agency and not the Malawi Human Rights Commission as recommended by the Cabinet Committee on Legal and Constitutional, which is chaired by Minister of Justice Samuel Tembeu. Cabinet also doesn't want whistle blower protection. Commenting on the matter, MISA Malawi chairperson Thom Khanje said the development vindicates rumors that president Peter Mutharika and his government was not committed to the enactment of the Bill despite campaign promises on the matter.

 

“We are disappointed with this development. The president is not honest and does not want to live up to his promise. He made false promises to Malawians just to get their votes. “As MISA Malawi we will not stop to push for this important legislation. We believe that this law will help strengthen our democracy and foster meaningful development,' Khanje Said. MISA Malawi is currently working with different stakeholders for a united campaign, calling for enactment of the bill.

 

 

SOURCE Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)

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