The Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency (CSAT) has advised the government to ensure that all public institutions have an information officer who will assist in giving information to the public in accordance with the Access To Information (ATI) Law.

CSAT Citizen Engagement Manager, Moffat Phiri made the appeal on Wednesday, 27 June 2024 in Lilongwe when the organisation was engaging with the media on how it can relay Parliamentary information to the general public.

Phiri states that the absence of the officers in the institutions, makes it hard for journalists as well as the citizenry to access the information whenever they want it.

Moffat Phiri, CSAT Citizen Engagement Manager

“It’s high time that the ATI law was passed, and then public offices are yet to fill the position of information officers. Today’s training has uncovered the need to advocate or to make sure that government ensures that all public institutions have filled up this position. As CISAT, we will be happy to see that the government respect this decision and it will still try to reach out to different responsible officers, making sure that the positions have been filled in these offices,” Phiri said.

Phiri says the law will help the citizenry to have an oversight over their representatives.

He said that the organisation (CSAT) conducted the session with the media after observing that there is a gap in journalists’ ability to cover parliamentary proceedings.

“We saw the gap mainly in the journalists from both the ministerial media houses as well as the community media houses that covering of parliamentary proceedings has been a problem. So, we are convinced that today’s session has been a wonderful landmark where journalists have been capacitated on how they can be covering parliamentary proceedings,” he concluded.

One of the slides during the session in Lilongwe

In his remarks, one of the journalists who attended the session, Patrick Njawala says that the sessions are significant success, effectively equipping journalists with the necessary skills to cover parliamentary proceedings.

He recognizes that Parliament is at the core of all governmental actions, impacting private citizens.

“If we want to save the masses, the people out there, the best way to do so is to go through Parliament. So this has been extremely eye-opening to me. It equally has opened my eyes with regards to establishing a network of those many organisations that are helping advance the well-being, the dreams and aspirations of the people,”he said.

CSAT is implementing a Parliamentary Support Program aimed at contributing to Malawi’s democratic governance by supporting the Parliament of Malawi.