President Peter Mutharika has hit at proponents of Access to Information Bill who gave him a seven-day ultimatum to reveal inconsistencies in Access to Information Bill.
Mutharika made the remarks in Lilongwe, yesterday, at a press conference organised to brief Malawians on his trip to Malta, United Kingdom and South Africa.
“Somebody told me that the civil society gave me seven days. I don’t take deadlines. I deliberately did not answer. Anybody putting a deadline to Peter Mutharika, Peter Mutharika is not going to answer that person. We are going to stop this kind of stuff. It’s disrespect,” Mutharika said.
He, however, highlighted some of the issues in the Bill which need to be addressed.
“There are a number of issues in that Bill. We have for example, a provision in the Bill which says that the Bill will cover any information that happened before the Bill was enacted. That means you can go back to 1891, when this country was created… there is no way we can say that. The law comes into effect the day I sign,” he said.
He added: “It says, in future no Parliament can ever repeal this law. Parliament is sovereign, it can pass any law or repeal any law, including the Constitution…. You cannot say in future Parliament cannot change this law. You cannot do that. That has to be changed.”
Mutharika stressed that the Bill will be passed.
“You see, no need really because we are going to pass ATI. Nobody is fighting against it. We are going to pass it. We have said that it’s in our manifesto. We were the first people to say it in the manifesto that we are going to have Access to Information [Bill passed]. So we will do it. But it’s just a question of how we are going to do it,” he said.
The World Bank and the European Union have also given Mutharika’s administration until December 30 to enact the Bill. But Government insists that it will pass it in March.
Mutharika also said he wants the ‘nonsense’ on presidential jet to come to an end.
During the press conference, the President briefed the media the hurdles he faced and stressed that nothing was created, it was a true representation of what he went through.
But when asked if government has plans to buy a jet, Mutharika said there are no such plans.
“Let me answer the question once and for all. And then I hope this nonsense will stop. The government has no plans to buy a jet. The government has no plans, the government has no plans. So, I hope this brings to an end [this issue]. Ok? We have no plans to buy a jet. Period. Let’s leave this obsession about the jet and move on,” Mutharika said.
He also explained some of the issues he raised in an interview with the BBC, concerning the presidential jet that was sold during the People’s Party (PP) regime.
“I said the jet was sold to somebody, we don’t know who it was sold to really. I think the government is investigating. That there was some mystery. If you remember correctly, on the same day, the president then said that it was sold in order to offset some kind of money we owed some company for arms. On the same day the Minister of Finance then said the jet was sold in order to buy fertilizer. That’s where I said there was a contradiction. We are trying to investigate….,” Mutharika said.
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