The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has stepped up efforts to popularise the Access to Information (ATI) law in rural areas.
CCJP, through a one-year project called ‘Promoting Inclusive Social Accountability in Management of Local Development Processes’ intends to train a total of 45 community journalists and 60 community action groups from three districts of Chikwawa, Nkhata Bay and Zomba.
The ATI law was enacted in 2017 and the Tonse Alliance-led government has said it will prioritise and have it gazetted.
Governance Programmes Coordinator at CCJP, George Chiusiwa, said the ATI law once operationalised will help to promote the right to administrative justice in public institutions and that community journalists and community action groups are an important vehicle to popularise the law.
Chiusiwa made the remarks on Friday at Bula Teachers Development Centre during a training of 15 citizen journalists drawn from Traditional Authority M’bwana in Nkhata Bay District.
“In a bid to support the Malawi Human Rights Commission in raising awareness on the Access to Information law which is yet to be operationalised, we are reaching out to community journalists and these community action groups in these three districts.
“We are targeting 15 community journalists in each of the districts and of course we are also targeting 20 community action group members in each of these districts. We want them to track the utilisation of local development resources using the Access of Information Act,” said Chiusiwa.
In his remarks, CCJP Coordinator for Mzuzu Diocese, Arnold Msimuko, said the project is targeting rural areas after noting that there are a lot of public projects that stalled due to abuse of resources hence the need to empower people like community journalists to expose such vices for authorities’ action.
Meanwhile, one of the trained community journalists, Julius Kadammanja, pledged to use the skills attained in promoting transparency and accountability in all public projects.
Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) is the implementing agency of the ATI law which is expected to ease access to public information.