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Longer wait for ATI operationalisation

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Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology, Mark Botomani, has said the country will wait a little longer for Access to Information (ATI) law to be operational saying formulation of regulations is yet to be completed.

Parliament passed the law in December 2016 and President Peter Mutharika assented to it in February 2017.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a political rally he held alongside other four Cabinet ministers at Chitipa Boma, Botomani said the regulations are with Minister of Justice for scrutiny.

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“I must tell you that it is not as simple as people might think. Let me give the example of South Africa, they passed the same bill into a law but it took almost 10 years before it became operational. For us, we are doing well because the scrutiny is almost done,” Botomani said.

He said the ministry will soon meet members of Legal Affairs and Media committees to brief them about the ongoing process.

“The legal document needs to be properly scrutinised before it is taken back to Parliament for a final assessment. There are some areas which need proper scrutiny. One cannot just go to the Malawi Defence Force and expect to be given information that can compromise security matters,” Botomani said.

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Several stakeholders, including Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa)-Malawi have been pushing the government to fast-track the process.

Recently, Misa- Malawi Chairperson, Tereza Ndanga, said the institute will always be in the forefront monitoring and protecting media independence.

Recently, the police arrested two journalists at Kamuzu International Airport when they were covering the arrival into the country of European Union Election Observer Mission and they were charged using an outdated legal provision before they were released.

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