By George Mponda
Centre for Social Accountability and Transparecy (CSAT) has urged journalists in the country to demand accountability from parliamentarians by using the Access to Information (ATI) Act.
Executive Director for CSAT, Willy Kambwandira said this Friday in Mzuzu during a parliamentary support programme media engagement session on ATI with members of Nyika Media Club.
Kambwandira said: “Journalists have a great role to play in contributing to Malawi’s democratic governance by supporting the Parliament of Malawi to better fulfill its legislative oversight and representative functions.
“Our expectation is that the media is going to use ATI to report on how resources that are approved by Parliament are utilised and keep on checking bills including loan authorisations to make sure that the funds approved are used to help foster development for the Malawian people,” he added.
While hailing the Ministry of Information and Digitalisation for releasing names of infomation officers in various government departments, Kambwandira called on Information Officers to be forthcoming when asked for information.
Vice Chairperson for Nyika Media Club, Feston Malekezo said journalists, being the fourth estate, need to utilise ATI to end secretive operations on the part of government and public institutions.
“Parliament is where most crucial issues that affect Malawians are discussed, therefore, journalists need to be well appraised with how they can hold parliamentarians accountable on how they conduct their business,” Malekezo said.
“However, there are Government departments which deliberately refuse to provide infomation when asked and some do not even have infomation officers hence the need to improve on this area,” he added.
During the media session, journalists were drilled on citizen engagement and democracy, barriers to accessing parliamentary information and how to overcome them, among other things.