The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) have become the first institutions to be reported to the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) for alleged non-compliance with the Access to Information (ATI) Act.
MHRC ATI Committee chairperson Baldwin Chiyamwaka yesterday confirmed receiving two complaints relating to members of the public failing to access information from public institutions or public officers.
He said the first complaint was against the OPC in relation to the report that Vice-President Saulos Chilima submitted to President Lazarus Chakwera on civil service reforms while the other was against CMST.
Chiyamwaka said the complaint against OPC was reviewed by the commission’s ATI Unit which established that the complainant, Idriss Ali Nassa, had not exhausted all processes within the OPC to access the document.
He said: “We found nothing wrong since the internal process had not been exhausted.”
Chiyamwaka said authorities are reviewing the complaint against CMST.
Asked if there is progress in the implementation of the ATI Act, he said commission has made progress by, among others, establishing the ATI Unit.
However, Chiyamwaka said funding challenges and the unavailability of information officers in some institutions are affecting progress.
In a separate interview, Centre for Democray and Economic Development Initiatives (Cdedi) executive director Slyvester Namiwa, whose organisation has been writing public institutions and officers to source information on some issues, also raised concerns that some public institutions including the OPC cling to information when asked.