President Peter Mutharika Wednesday assented to the long awaited Access to Information Bill as well as the Financial Crimes Bill.
Both State House Director of Communications, Bright Molande, and Ministry of Justice, Samuel Tembenu, confirmed the development.
The Access to Information law will enable citizens to access government information as per constitutional provisions.
During the process leading to the enactment of this law, there was a protracted war-of–words between the government and civil society organisations, as well as the media, as government attempted to water down the bill.
Tembenu said in a statement yesterday that the President is hoping that the media will respect the law fully when seeking information from public bodies.
“This law calls f o r transparency on all of us including the media and the information holders,” Tembenu said.
Misa Malawi Vice Chairperson, Yvone Sundu, said they have been haggling with the government for almost 13 years to pass the bill.
“We are happy to have such a piece of legislation. We hope responsible officers will make information available to the public,” Sundu said.
Meanwhile, the British Government has also hailed Mutharika for appending his signature to the bill.
“Government of Malawi and in particular the President, His Excellency Arthur Peter Mutharika, should be commended for passing a progressive Access to Information Act and the Financial Crimes Act. Looking forward to the wholesale implementation of all provisions in the Acts for the benefit of all stakeholders especially ordinary Malawians,” said British High Commissioner to Malawi, Holly Tett.
The Panos Institute o f Southern Africa (PSAf) has also commended Mutharika for assenting to the Bill.
“As PSAf, we now look forward to the full implementation of this very progressive law. We call on the President to ensure that this law does not gather dust in some shelf at Capital Hill. PSAf calls on the government to immediately put in place policies, systems and measures to support the full implementation of this law,” reads a PSAf statement released Wednesday.