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Government tough on information access

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KAZAKO— I will soon publish names

The government has warned that it will take action on heads of public institutions that are yet to appoint information officers as required by the Access to Information Act.

Information Minister Gospel Kazako sounded the warning during International Day for Universal Access to Information commemorations at the main event in Salima District Wednesday.

Malawi joined the rest of the world in commemorating this year’s day, which falls on September 28 annually.

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“I will soon publish names and contacts for all information officers, and where a public institution has not designated an information officer, the head of that public institution will be listed as an information officer as stipulated by law,” Kazako said.

According to the ministry, at least 123 public institutions have, so far, appointed 160 information officers in their respective institutions. Some of the institutions are appointing more than one officer.

Kazako said he was delighted that the conference also focused on digital rights as a critical factor in facilitating access to information, especially in the digital space.

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He said Malawians needed to seriously brainstorm on the gains, challenges and possible opportunities for utilising the digital space as a driver for achieving access to information.

“I must admit that we, as a country, still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to make internet connectivity accessible and affordable to most Malawians” Kazako said.

Malawi Human Rights Commission Deputy Director for Civil and Political Rights, Chance Kalolokesya, admitted that there had been inadequate awareness on the access to information law.

He also noted that implementation of some key activities had not been done due to delays and lack of funds.

“Covid protective measures also slowed down implementation of some activities,” Kalolokesya said.

Oxfam Country Director Lingalireni Mihowa said information was key to the creation of an informed nation.

As part of this year’s commemoration, a consortium of Oxfam, Youth and Society and Development Communication Trust, with support from the European Union (EU), convened the multi-stakeholder conference in Salima.

Mihowa said the conference was part of the ongoing three-year project that the consortium, using funds from the EU, was implementing to influence enforcement of the regulatory framework that guarantees the right to information.

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