Malawi Government Delays Action on FOI Legislation

25 September 2014

A freedom of information law for Malawi has been delayed.

Minister of Information and Civic Education Kondwani Nankhumwa recently said that action will not be taken during the current session of Parliament.

The bill remains under review by the Ministry of Justice, he said, according to a news report in the Malawi Nyasa Times.

“We found out that there were still some consultation mainly with government principal secretaries which we have already done,” he was quoted as saying.

“We have finalised everything and presented the final paper to the Ministry of Justice. We are now waiting for the plenary cabinet to look into it so that it is brought to parliament,” he said.

Journalist Union of Malawi (JUMA) Secretary General Charles Mkula commented, “We are very disappointed that once more we have to wait longer for something that has been there for over a decade.”

Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Director Timothy Mtambo said: “Why should they give promises on something that will not be possible? This is not the time for empty promises and confusing statements.”

In June, the minister had predicted tabling the bill in September, according to an article in The Malawan in which author John Mchilikizo defends the delay, noting the number of new parliamentarians and the need for “meticulous” drafting.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee in July recommended that Malawi adopt an access to information bill. (See previous report.)

The Malawi Cabinet in February approved an access to information policy, setting the stage for introduction of ATI legislation. (See previous report.)

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