MEC wins Golden Key for the most transparent public institution

“Citizens have a right to know and a right to information. Information is power.”

These were the words spoken by the Media Institute of Southern Africa Malawi’s (MISA-Malawi) Regional Chairman Anthony Kasunda, at an award ceremony on 29th September 2014, where MISA-Malawi awarded Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) with the Golden Key Award for ‘The Most Open Public Institution’.

Each year, MISA Chapter Malawi selects ten government or public institutions in the country and conduct qualitative and quantitative research to assess their level of transparency.  The research includes sending questionnaires, critiquing websites for usefulness and relevance; and making written and oral requests for information under the guise of media students seeking information for their studies.  When the research is completed, the MISA office awards a Golden Key Award to the ‘Most Open Public Institution’ and a Golden Padlock Award to the “Most Secretive Public Institution’.

This year, MISA Malawi analysed Malawi Regulatory Authority, Blantyre City Council, The Accountant Generals office, The Ministry of Health, The Malawi Electoral Commission, The National Aids Commissions, The Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Blantyre Water Board and The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

MISA Swaziland found the SRA was the most open institution.  Accepting the award was SRA’s customer service manager, Riccardo Kruger, who said, “This award is an indication that we are moving in the right direction”.

Kasunda said MISA tries its best to educate people so they can voluntarily ask for information, while also trying to be as proactive as possible in offering people useful and timely information. “This exercise is very important. Information is power,” Kasunda said. “Keep on having such exercises, we really appreciate the feedback.”

 In His acceptance speech Director of Media and Public Relations for MEC, Sangwani Mwafulirwa said his organization was grateful for the feedback and acknowledged that there’s always room to be better and to strive for greater levels of transparency.

“MEC is grateful for this award and recognition, we have not been perfect but we have tried to give the public information promptly. We look forward to greater heights of transparency and openness so that the public gets what it deserves from us.” He said

Blantyre City Council was judged the most secretive institution and, were not in attendance to accept the feedback and ‘award’.