By Steven Godfrey Mkweteza

Some development partners in the country, have said the implementation of the access to information( ATI) act will achieve its intended purpose if the media is at the forefront populizing the act.

Programs manager for development communication trust( DCT), Bettie Chumbu, said this during a day long media orientation meeting on the ATI act held in Blantyre on Tuesday.

Chumbu observed that the media was a catalyst for effective implementation if the act as it attract a large audience.

“If feel that the media is very important sector in facilitating the effective awareness of the act, hence the need to capacitate the sector,” she said.

Chumbu said since the act was gazetted in September last year, there have been reports of hiccups on how to access information among the general populace.

“This shows that most of the people do not know what actually the act is all about perhaps due to poor advocacy strategies, illiteracy and Information gaps,” she said.

According to her, a consortium of three organizations in the country, namely the Youth and society(YAS), the Development communication trust( DCT) and Oxfam Malawi with funding from the European Union (EU) have teamed up in a project aimed at capacitating the stakeholders including the media on how best to implement the Act.

She said the three year project will be run in ten districts of the country.

Among others, she said the project entitled ‘ influencing effective implementation and enforcement of regulatory framework that guarantees right to information’ will translate the act into local languages such as that of chichewa and Tumbuka for better understanding.

Speaking in a separate interview, the deputy director for civil and political rights for Malawi human Rights commission ( MHRC), Chance Kawolokesya,said self disclosure of the ATI for the general public was very important for easy access of information.

“This will lay bare suspicions of corruption, fraud and other misconceptions. Therefore, it is necessary to appoint the information officers so that the general public can easily access information through this office, ” he said.

A Zomba based Ufulu radio FM journalist, Erick Njobvu, hailed the orientation, saying it has gone a long the way to enlighten him on some clauses that used to affect his understanding about the Act.

Misa Malawi chapter, a grouping of local media practitioners in the country, championed the enactment of the ATI Act 17 years ago before the government gazzeted it in September 2020.

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