Malawi’s Ministry of Information and Civic Education on Wednesday said the Access to Information Policy that will enable tabling of the Access to Information Bill in Parliament is ready for presentation to Cabinet.
This is almost 10 years after journalists in Malawi started pushing for such a law.
Secretary for Information and Civic Education Anthony Livuza said on Wednesday the policy has been finalised and “should be taken to government within this month.”
Livuza was speaking in the capital Lilongwe when he presided over a stakeholders’ meeting on decriminalisation of laws limiting freedom of expression in Malawi.
He said the formulation of the Access to Information Policy, which would eventually facilitate the tabling of a Bill in Parliament, is one of government’s efforts and commitment to ensuring that Malawians have access to information.
The meeting follows the visit of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula.
Livuza said among several steps taken so far to show government’s commitment include the repeal of Section 46 of the Penal Code that gives the Minister of Information ‘absolute discretion’ to prohibit publications deemed contrary to the public, and also the opening up of radio and television licensing.
One of the members of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Trust Fund Board, Dr Tikhala Chibwana, said Misa Malawi and a number of organisations have been campaigning for access to information legislation for close to 10 years now, but could not be pushed further due to lack of a policy.
He said it is sad that although access to information is provided for in the Constitution, it has taken the country nearly 20 years to get a policy in place.