MHRC ATI Act Zero Budget Allocation Worries Media Council

Osman Osman - internet pic

The Media Council of Malawi (MCM) has expressed concern that the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) is failing to spearhead and popularise the Access to Information (ATI) Act since it had a zero budget allocation in the current fiscal year.

Speaking to Zodiak, MHRC Executive Secretary, Habiba Osman, says funding constraints have now affected its operations including the spearheading and implementation of the Access to Information Act since it had a zero budget allocation this year.

Osman says the Commission was relying on the donor funding which has  now been exhausted.

"You know we have been given responsibility of implementing the ATI Act which is the very critical piece of legislation. But that budget was not given any funding this year, so we had zero budget for ATI Act. So the money that we have been using, really has been the one coming from our strategic partners," Osman worried.

In his reaction on Sunday, MCM Executive Director, Moses Kaufa said it is unfortunate that MHRC was not allocated resources to play its oversight role and reaching out to all public institutions and stakeholders to understand the law as provided for in the Act.

"The fact that the MHRC is mandated to lead in implementation of the Act and it does not have resources, it is the issue of concern. We would have wanted the government that showed the interest in the first place to operationalised the law to also make sure that the resources are available," he said.

Meanwhile, Treasury was not immediately available for comment on the matter but it is reported that MHRC needed about K300 million this year to execute the mandate.

The ATI Act operationalisation in September 2020 was a partial fulfilment of the Tonse government’s promise to remove any secrecy within government entities and make it easier for Malawians to access public information.

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