European Union (EU) Ambassador Marchel Gerrmann has backed calls for government to pass the Access to Information (ATI) Bill, saying it is key to accountability.
He said this in Mzuzu on Monday during a meeting with Nyika Media Club (NMC) after journalists asked for his stand on government delay to pass the ATI Bill, which, among others, empowers Malawians to demand information from duty bearers on matters affecting them.
Recently, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe told Parliament that the EU bloc and the World Bank have put the passing of the Bill as one of the 20 conditions for the resumption of direct budget aid to Malawi.
“We believe that the ATI Bill is important because it supports transparency and strengthens domestic accountability,” said the Ambassador.
NMC president Deogratias Mmana urged Cabinet to take the Bill to Parliament as President Peter Mutharika promised.
“Failure to pass the Bill is a clear sign that those in power want to keep Malawians poor and in the dark on crucial matters while they get richer,” said Mmana.
Mutharika and his Cabinet have come under fire from the media and civil society for delaying to pass the Bill by referring it to its legal affairs committee, saying it has inconsistencies.
In their statement, media owners and managers asked government to disclose the inconsistencies that justify the delay. n