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‘ATI inactivity fuels abuse of resources’

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TERESA NDANGA

Lack of implementation of the Access to Information (ATI) Act has been blamed for the continued secrecy in management of public funds in various government institutions.

Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency (Csat) Executive Director Willy Kambwandira has urged the new government to make sure that the Act becomes operational as soon as possible.

“We are appealing to the new government to implement the Act. We are saddened with the reports that government continues to lose billions of kwacha in deals which are entered into without Malawians knowing about the processes,” Kambwandira said.

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He said recent revelations that Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi is spending at least K3 billion for the procurement of bulbs and that former president Peter Mutharika used taxpayers’ money to procure buses for privately-owned football teams are worrying.

“We believe the law will also help people access such information. And this is happening, Malawians are suffering. All public procurements should be available for scrutiny so that Malawians can provide their views. Once the ATI law is implemented, it will ensure transparency and accountability,” Kambwandira said.

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter in its statement also asked the new government to appoint a date for the operationalisation of the Act.

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Misa Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga said the government should also fully equip the Malawi Human Rights Commission to effectively oversee the implementation process.

“Corruption and overall bad governance thrive in darkness and secrecy. The ATI Act is necessary to fight corruption and ensure an open accountable government. Ensure that the [Malawi] Human Rights Commission has adequate resources to oversee implementation of the legislation,” Ndanga said in the statement.

Former president Peter Mutharika assented to the law in February 2017 but the minister responsible is yet to set a date for the law to come into effect.

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