Malawi Cabinet Approves Access to Information Policy

6 February 2014

The Malawi Cabinet has approved an access to information policy, setting the stage for introduction of ATI legislation.

The development was cheered by activists as removing the last major hurdle to the enactment of an ATI law.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi chapter, one of the groups leading the campaign for a bill, believes it will pass.

A constitutional provision gives Malawians the right to access information held by the government, but the government has resisted passing ATI legislation. (See article in The Nation and statement by MISA Malawi.)

MISA Malawi Chairperson, Anthony Kasunda, wrote, “As an organisation, we are very excited that we have reached this far with our campaign to have Access to Information Law.”

He applauded the government and gave thanks for support from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and Tilitonse, a multi–donor foundation.

“We believe that there is a common realisation that this is an important law and the policy is a crucial step towards enactment of this law,” Kasunda said.

“On possibility of Parliament passing it, we are confident that our legislators will see the need to pass it,” he said, “With more lobbying, as we wait for the Bill to be processed before taken to Parliament, we can achieve what we want and it will be an important step in strengthening our democracy.”

Kasunda said MISA Malawi was involved in the whole process of formulating both the Policy and the draft Bill and we are satisfied with the contents.” He said further, “Unless Parliament can pass the Bill with major amendments, we are comfortable at the moment. Of course, we may need to align our law with the recently developed Access to Information Model Law of the African Union.”

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