Malawi Law Society (MLS) has given mixed ratings to the three arms of government—the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary—as well as the opposition, civil society organisations (CSOs), among others, in its 2015 assessment.
In an assessment focusing on performance on key governance issues, MLS also gave similar ratings to law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
In a statement issued yesterday, MLS said it looks forward to a 2016 where all Malawians will continue to demand good governance from their governors as it has been rightly said that “there is no such thing as governance by indifference”.
However, while CSOs, LEAs and the DPP have gotten thumbs up for a job well done in various governance issues, the three arms of government and the opposition have been faulted in one way or another, though there are some areas where MLS has commended them.
The statement said that while the business of the Judiciary and Legislature has traditionally been conducted in the open, the same could not be said of the Executive arm of government, the reason MLS consistently called for the enactment of the Access to Information (ATI) Bill in 2015.
“This law will help in opening up the operations of the government, especially the Executive, to whose care vast public resources have been entrusted, to more public scrutiny. That this proposed law was not passed in 2015 was a setback to our collective efforts at holding our governors accountable.
“It remains our sincere hope that the ATI Bill shall be passed in the year 2016,” reads part of the statement co-signed by MLS president John Suzi-Banda and MLS honorary secretary Khumbo Soko.
In the statement, MLS, while saying it continues to hope for a Judiciary where quality decisions are delivered on time, says it is firm in its conviction that there can simply be no justification for court rulings and judgments to remain pending for two or more years.
MLS said, in 2016, it will continue to call for more transparency in the appointment of judges to the High Court and the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal.
Assessing the opposition, MLS said while opposition parties have in 2015 made efforts to provide checks and balances to executive excesses, the society believes there is more that the parties can and ought to do in providing effective opposition to government.
Speaking on respect for human rights, MLS said it notes the continued lack of essential medicines and other basic supplies in the country’s public hospitals and it hopes in 2016, there will be a genuine initiative to adequately resource our public hospitals with essential drugs and basic supplies.
Reacting to the opposition parties’ assessment, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson Jessie Kabwila said it is unfortunate that MLS has decided that opposition parties fell short of their duties in 2015.
Speaking in an telephone interview, Kabwila said opposition parties have been consistent on a number of important policy issues and have provided alternative views on a number of important policies though the government has not been listening.
In 2015, government came under fire from donors, CSOs and media, among others, for failing to table the ATI Bill.
However, President Peter Mutharika said government will not table the bill to please donors, but because it is important for people to know what was happening in a democracy. n