Malawi Parliament Passes Access to Information Bill

19 December 2016

Opposition members of the Malawi Parliament prevailed in a contentious session to pass an access to information bill on Dec. 16.

Despite the controversy, President Peter Mutharika is expected to sign the bill. (The bill was signed into law Feb. 10, 2017, and promulgated Feb. 16, 2017. See signed Access to Information Act.)

“I don’t see any problem for him to assent to him,” Minister of Information and Communication Malison Ndau was quoted as saying in The Nyasa Times.

Members of Parliament supporting the government sought to delay passage, questioning putting the Human Rights Commission in the oversight role for the ATI law, according to articles in The Nyasa Times, Malawi24 and The Maravi Post.

The opposition bloc said there had been sufficient prior consultations on the bill and that no more alterations were warranted.

After the bill was passed in the House, opposition MPs erupted into celebrations and singing songs: “Ailira! Ailira!” – meaning the ruling party were mourning as democracy triumphed.

Media Council of Malawi executive director Vales Machila and Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi chapter Thom Khanje described passage of the bill as “victory for everyone in Malawi.”

An ATI law in Malawi will be the 115th such regime worldwide. (See tally.)

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