MISA Malawi chapter has hailed President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera for his wish to operationalize Access to Information (ATI) Act in less than a month from today.
Dr. Chakwera made the promise today when delivering his first State of Nation Address (SONA) under the theme “Restoring Warmth to the Heart of Africa” at Parliament Building in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe.
MISA Malawi says it expects the Minister of Information to gazette the commencement date within the one-month timeframe.
“We would like to further remind public bodies to ensure that they are ready to comply with obligations under the Act by among others keeping records and appointing and training information officers,”
“It is our expectation that the 2020/2021 national budget will also allocate adequate resources to the Human Rights Commission to effectively oversee implementation of the legislation,” reads a statement issued by MISA Malawi Chairperson Theresa Ndanga.
According to a statement, MISA Malawi hopes operationalization of the ATI Act will mark an end to an era of secrecy and unnecessary withholding of public information by the government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“Withholding of public information by MDAs has for a long time undermined Section 37 of the Constitution which reads, “Every person shall have the right of access to all information held by the State or any of its organs at any level of government in so far as such information is required for the exercise of his rights”.
“MISA Malawi views the right to information as an enabling right which allows citizens to enjoy other rights such as right to education, health and economic well-being,” reads a statement.
According to MISA Malawi, access to information also promotes transparency and accountability in government institutions thereby containing social ills such as corruption.