Civil rights activist Michael Usi says government has to fast-track the process of taking the Access to Information (ATI) Bill to Parliament for enactment, saying the legislation is a must-have in a democracy.
Speaking at a press conference in Lilongwe on Sunday where Usi, who is famed with the name Manganya in drama circles, said the ATI must be passed without unnecessary debates as it is the beacon of checks and balances in a democratic society.
“ATI is not any other bill as it is a very important enabler for Malawians to know critical information in terms of what has been or is happening. The bill is also a strategic development tool, as such it is not an option for any country,” said Usi.
He said government’s continued empty promises to have the bill tabled in Parliament, seemingly, means something somewhere is not right.
“The bill is not targeting any individual or group of people; therefore, government need not be worried with it neither should any authority be afraid of the bill. It is a bill that seeks to empower ordinary people who for a while have been trampled on.
Late last year, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said the bill will have been passed by March 31, saying donors tied it to conditions that would see resumption of aid if fulfilled.
But speaking when he met media owners in Lilongwe recently, President Peter Mutharika challenged that he would not sign the bill into law even if passed by Parliament if it maintains some sections he expressed displeasure with.