Media Institute of southern Africa Malawi Chapter has awarded Blantyre City Council the 2016 Golden Key Award in acknowledgement of the institution’s efforts to disclose information to the public despite the absence of Access to Information law.
Speaking during the presentation of the award at Bridgeview Hotel in Lilongwe on Tuesday, Misa Malawi Chairperson Thom Khanje said the organization conduct Transparency Assessment each year to find out institutions that are flexible enough in giving out information to the general public and those that are secretive.
”We conduct this kind of research each and every year to assess level of openness in government and public institutions, Since we started this, we are progressing and in the next years there will be great improvement in as far access to information is concerned,” he said
According to Khanje, the findings also indicate that the ministry of health is one of the government institutions that are very secretive in giving out information to the public.
After receiving the Award Blantyre City Council Spokesperson Anthony Kasunda said he was overwhelmed saying getting an award of such nature indicates that their institution is making progress in providing services to the public.
Kasunda added that they will continue giving out information to the public for Malawians to be conversant with what the council does.
“We are overwhelmed, we realize that we have a duty to the public and whatever we do is for the public and we are not supposed to be pushed to give out information because it is their information, a deliberate policy was made at the council level that whatever information the public is looking for, proactively we have to make it available,” he said
Kasunda added: “We have several platforms where people can access our information like WhatsApp, Facebook page, Twitter, Website and of course Magazine so today we are very happy that our efforts have been recognized.
Some of the Institutions assessed are Blantyre City Council, Blantyre Water Board, Central Medical Stores Trust, Lilongwe Water Board, Department of Road Traffic Directorate, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban development, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Ministry of Health.
Since 2009, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has evaluated the level of openness of government and public institutions in its annual Transparency Assessment. Carried out by National Misa Chapters, the study seeks to establish whether public institutions proactively make public information available and easily accessible via an online presence in the form of website. It further assesses to what degree information is available to the public upon request.