Lilongwe — Minister of Information, Gospel Kazako has described access to information as a fundamental human right key to the development of the nation and the consolidation of the country's democracy.
Kazako made the remarks Wednesday morning in Lilongwe when he presided over the opening of working session for the regulations and guidelines for the law at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC).
Kazako said government is committed to operationalizing the Access to Information law as soon as possible, as the new (Chakwera) administration wishes to be transparent to the citizens, saying government has nothing to hide.
"ATI is one of the milestones in the Tonse Alliance Government. This Government is committed to be transparent and accountable to the people of Malawi as its employers and this law is a crucial instrument in achieving that transparency and accountability," Kazako said.
Kazako further said that Government is working around the clock to ensure that the Act starts operating the soonest.
"The President (Dr. Lazarus Chakwera) set the tone for this law and we are here today to ensure that this law is operational as soon as possible. Once the guidelines are validated, we will have a few more consultations and the law will be fully operational," said Kazako.
Baldwin Chiyamwaka, Commissioner at the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), whose institution is mandated with the operationalization of the Act said the presentation of the guidelines demonstrates that the rolling out of the Act is almost done.
"The guidelines are the practical enablers of the Act. With this presentation today, the stakeholders will review and validate them and once that is done, a date for commencement can be set," said Chiyamwaka.
Director of Information in the Ministry of Information Mzati Nkolokosa, who represented Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information said ATI is not just for journalists, as every Malawian stands to benefit for liberated access to information.
Nkolokosa also commended the new Minister for showing commitment to operationalize ATI as quickly as possible.
Access to Information Act was passed by Parliament in December 2016. Former President Arthur Peter Mutharika assented to the Bill in February 2017.
Operationalization of the Act has however failed to materialize due to among other factors, the absence of guidelines, a move many analysts attributed to lack of political will.