Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi risks lawsuit for taking long to put into operation the Access to Information (ATI) law, almost a year since President Peter Mutharika assented to it.
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa Malawi Chapter) chairperson Teresa Ndanga said they were dissatisfied with the delays in operationalising the law and her institution with other stakeholders may be forced to take the matter to court.
Ndanga hinted on the option after a panel discussion on Access to Information (ATI) law held on Friday during the Malawi Law Society (MLS) conference and annual general meeting in Mangochi.
During the discussion that comprised Mandala Mambulasa, former MLS president and Misa Malawi legal adviser Ololade Shyllon from University of Pretoria in South Africa and Maxwell Kadiri from Open Society Justice Initiative in Nigeria, some lawyers suggested the option of taking the matter to court to move government on the matter.
“We are happy there has been growing interest in this particular law… We have prioritise dialogue all this while and probably we will try to talk to him [minister] again but if all this fails then probably as you have heard we may be taking this matter to court as an option,” said Ndanga.
On his part, outgoing MLS president Khumbo Soko said the delays by the minister to set a date was an issue of concern and “at some point the minister might wish to explain why he is taking forever to put it into operation.”
He said as MLS, they do not have powers to force the minister to explain the delays, but the law gives them a broad mandate to make an intervention as they deem fit.
He said: “The ATI law compliments a right that is guaranteed to Malawians under the constitution so it is a very critical piece of legislation in any functional democracy… It also helps government to ensure that its business is done in a transparent and accountable fashion because there are a lot of opportunities for wrong doing in darkness and grey areas.”