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Delayed ATI law irks Kaliya

kaliyaThe NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGOGCN) has said accountability, democracy and governance will never thrive in Malawi unless the Access to Information (ATI) Bill is passed into law.

NGOGCN Executive Director, Emma Kaliya, said it has been discouraging that for over 15 years of advocating for the ATI, the powers that be are still dilly-dallying on its materialization, thereby putting democracy and governance at stake.

β€œThe ATI process was actually started by us at Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre with our friends at Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa-Malawi) sometime back and imagine that now over 15 years later, we are talking about the same thing. How long are we going to wait so that we can start making public officers accountable?” Kaliya said.

She said it was sad that the ATI seems to have been stuck forever and Misa, with whom they fronted the Bill, is still struggling to have it enacted in Parliament.

Kaliya was reacting to calls from communities in Machinga and Balaka who were drilled on public expenditure tracking (Pet) who expressed misgivings that they are failing to monitor development projects and councils due to lack of accountability by duty-bearers, who in turn push the blame on the delayed enactment of the ATI Bill.

Award rights-holders representative, Melvin Mtimaukanena Chikweo, said it is impossible to get information from councils or monitor expenditure of development funds as accountability and transparency espoused in the ATI are not available.

NGOGCN Senior Project Officer, Aubrey Chaguzika, said the political economy analysis clearly shows that lack of information for public consumption breeds secrecy, corruption and fraud, thereby derailing development.

β€œWe will never move forward with development if we are not open on how we spend public funds and the public also needs to be proactive rather than reactive in these governance issues,” Chaguzika said.

He also said they are implementing the project to enhance socioeconomic development by addressing issues affecting women and girls through local governance, service delivery, budget tracking and monitoring and public expenditure tracking.

NGOGCN, which is a grouping of 51 local NGOs, is implementing a governance and democratisation project in Machinga, Balaka and Lilongwe with funding from United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) through National Democratic Institute (NDI).

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