By Eric Nantchengwa
As the country will join the rest of the World on 7th May in commemorating World Press Freedom Day, Media Institute of Southern Africa-Malawi Chapter (Misa-Malawi) has faulted parliament for failing to table the long-awaited Access to Information Bill (ATI) saying the move has denied Malawians their constitution right to get access to relevant information.
Access to Information is a provision enshrined in section 37 of the constitution of Malawi where every person has the right to information from the government and its organs.
The Bill was due to be tabled during the just ended parliament sitting but was clogged up because of what has was described as inconsistencies, blocking the citizens right to information from the government.
Reacting to the fourth coming world press freedom day commemoration, Misa-Malawi Chapter Chairperson Thom Khanje stressed the chapter’s dissatisfaction due to the continued undermining of the importance of the bill by parliament.
He described this year’s World Press Freedom Day as a mixed bag saying the country has made some progress but at the same time have also retrogressed in terms of press freedom and freedom of expression.
‘’Yes! There are times we have made progress and at times we have slid back in terms of freedom of expression and expression of speech as we have noticed that this year, the government stretched its hand by making arrests to journalists and some mere citizens’’ , he said.
Khanje further decisively condemned the government for the recent arrests of mere citizens for expressing their thoughts and he described the move as retrogressive and unconstitutional.
The constitution provision of Malawi is regarded as one of the best and robust constitutions in as far as granting freedom of expression and freedom of speech. Malawi media is hailed as being able to report freely without harassment and infringement of the State Machinery.
Khanje said Misa-Malawi chapter will continue to fight for the provision of Access to Information bill not just for the media but to all because the law empowers people so he urged all Malawians to join the fight.
This year’s World Press Freedom day is under the theme Fostering Freedom of Expression and the Commemorations will be held where there will be a live debate among other activities.