Malawians are now empowered by law to seek information from elected officials and public entities. This comes after President Peter Mutharika signed into law the Access to Information (ATI) bill.
The bill was passed in December 2016 by the country’s parliament but was awaiting presidential assent.
According to Malawi24 news portal, the ATI law ends over 12 years of advocacy and agitation by media outlets and other stakeholders in the industry.
With this legislation in place, Malawians will now be able to demand any type of information thereby exercising rights which they could not enjoy in the absence of the enabling law.
It adds that when the bill was passed by Parliament, “stakeholders said it will trigger citizens’ participation in promoting accountability in the management of public resources.”
“With this legislation in place, Malawians will now be able to demand any type of information thereby exercising rights which they could not enjoy in the absence of the enabling law,” Media Institute of Malawi is quoted to have said.
Another press group Media Institute of South Africa (MISA) has applauded the president for signing the bill into law.
According to the Freedom House ‘Freedom of the Press 2016’ report on Malawi, its press freedom status is pegged at ‘partly free.’ They however note that despite strong constitutional guarantees for freedom of the press, several laws restrict this freedom in practice.