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61 ministries, departments and agencies defy Lazarus Chakwera

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Jacob Hara

About 61 government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) have defied President Lazarus Chakwera’s directive that those responsible for infrastructure projects should publish procurement information on the Information Platform for Public Infrastructure (IPPI) by August 31 2022.

A study initiated by the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Construction Sector Transparency (Cost) Malawi has revealed that, out of 92 MDAs, only 31 have published data on the IPPI portal, representing 31 percent compliance rate.

The results were disseminated in Lilongwe on Wednesday during a panel discussion held in commemoration of International Day for Universal Access to Information.

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Presenting the findings, consultant for the study, Rodney Kumsinda, said most public agencies are not keen on empowering the public with information on public infrastructure projects,.

The development, he said, defeats Chakwera’s pledge and commitment towards a transparent, corruption-free and an accountable government, apart from violating provisions of the country’s Constitution and Access to Information Act.

“The data points uploaded on the portal by the agencies are lacking in detail as the highest complying project in the study scored 62 percent, the lowest compliance percentage being 6 percent. Therefore, the study shows that the MDAs are not complying with the minimum requirements to provide data that is meaningful, complete and concise,” he said.

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The study has, however, rated Lilongwe District Council (LDC), Mzuzu City Council (MCC), Balaka District Council and Shire Valley Transformation Project as best performing institutions, in terms of complying with formal disclosure requirements.

LDC and MCC jointly scooped first position, with 53 average compliance points.

CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa attributed the failures to fraud and corruption which, he said, are rampant in the construction sector, hinting that most MDAs do not support the Access to Information Act (ATI).

Cost Malawi Chairperson Joe Ching’ani wondered why some MDAs still have the culture of secrecy on infrastructure projects, saying there is a need to support the President’s directive which, he said, is in line with provisions of the Constitution of Malawi, the ATI Act and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act (2016).

“We, as Cost Malawi, know that this is work in progress and, from what we have observed, the portal is substantially populated with contracts from some MDAs but we know that we can do better,” he said.

On his part, Transport and Public Works Minister Jacob Hara said, since the portal is a new phenomenon, there is a need for more advocacy and awareness.

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