Freedom of Expression Tracker: Violation of public foe

MISA Malawi has been campaigning for legislation on Access to Information since 2004. President Peter Mutharika has promised on several occasions that his administration is committed to ensuring that Malawi has legislation on Access to Information to promote transparency and informed participatory democracy.

The Daily Times on Thursday November 19 2015 reported that President Peter Mutharika dismissed the Bill during the cabinet meeting, claiming that 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 in contributing towards the review process.

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.

MISA Stance:

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.