Media committee keen on operationalization of ATI Law

Parliamentary Committee on Media and Communication has said the operationalization of the Access to information Act (ATI) was meant to promote good governance and human rights.

Chairperson of the Committee, Aboo Mcnice Naliwa said this Wednesday when the engagement meeting with Parliamentary Committee on Media , Information and communications with Malawi Human Rights Commission(MHCR) in collaboration with Oxfam, Youth and Society (YAS) and Development Communications trust (DCT) at Bingu Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.

He said the operationalization of the law would further promote and advance issues of accountability and transparency by public institutions by being able to provide the much needed information as demanded by the public.

Naliwa: ATI law should be practical pic by Veronica Mwale (Oxfam)

“The law was operationalization in September 2022 the ATI Act of 2017 and it took 17 years for various stakeholders to advocate for the implementation of the Act in the country,” Naliwa pointed out.

He said access to information is human right and ordinary people need to get information as entitlement not as a favour.

Naliwa said the right to information should be accessible in any format to persons with disabilities and communities in the rural areas.

The Chairperson thanked Oxfam, MHRC, YAS and DCT for providing summarized progress report for Access to information implementation from October 2021 to September, 2022.

He said the committee would have the opportunity to look at the report and come up of solutions in order to reduce the gaps that have been highlighted.

“This would accord us as committee an opportunity provide the oversight mandate and enhance the operationalization of the ATI law in the country,” Naliwa added.

Chairperson for ATI at MHCR, Commissioner, Baldwin Chamwaka said the ATI Unit at MHCR was underfunded by government more especially in the current financial years where the Unit was allocated K 8 million a reduction from K 60 million in the 2020/2021 financial year.

Chamwaka: the ATI Unit was under funded pic by Veronica Mwale (Oxfam)

He added that resources from traditional donors such as European Union (EU) Chilungamo project were affected by the end of the project in June 2022.

Chamwaka said the Commission has been reaching out to other implementing partners and it has successful in securing in some funding through Oxfam and this funding enabled the Commission to implement some of the planned activities.

MHRC Executive Secretary, Peter Chisi expressed concern on failure to publish list of Information Officers by the Ministry of Information.

He said the law mandates the Ministry of Information to publish names of the appointed or designated officers at the beginning of each financial year.