The Malawi Electoral Commission has been recognized as the Most Open Public Service Institution in Malawi and has been awarded the Golden Key Award by the Media Institute of Southern (MISA) Malawi Chapter.
The award was given by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi as part of the commemoration of the Right to Information Day which falls on 28th September every year.
The a city council was awarded the Golden Padlock Award for being the most closed organization among all the ten institutions that were studied by the MISA Malawibetween June and August this year.
Speaking during the presentation of the Transparency Assessment Report 2020, MISA Programme Officer, Moses Chitsulo said the study was conducted in June 2020 and involved analyzing the tools for public information like the website and social media platforms.
“We also used local citizens to send out requests for information from the organisations so that we can see how they can be helped. If we used the media, the organizations would be quick to respond just because the request is from the media,” he said.
Chitsulo said the results of the study showed that there has been improvement in online presence as eight institutions of the sampled institutions had functional websites, most of which contained up-to-date information.
“Public institutions are opening up for public queries or request for information although some are not acting on the requests. They are also recognising importance of social media platforms in giving out information,” he said.
However, he noted that the institutions were not ready to give out information about budgets, expenditure, procurement and signed contracts.
In an interview after receiving the award, MEC Director of Media and Public Relations, Sangwani Mwafulirwa said it was a great honour to get the award for the fourth time since it was started.
“It was not easy. The competition was stiff if you look at the scores and we are happy to have come out the best. It signifies that what we are doing is being recognized out there,” he said.
Mwafulirwa, said the Commission had always been proactive with distribution of information even before the enactment of the Access to Information Act which became operational on 1st October, 2020.
Mwafulirwa said that they had noted the shortfalls that had been mentioned by the reports and will work on them to continue being an organization that is open with information.
MISA has been producing the transparency assessment reports for 11 years having started in 2009 and the aim is to ascertain the openness of public institutions and also as part of the campaign on access to information.
The organizations that were studied by MISA this year are Blantyre City Council (BCC), Lilongwe City Council (LCC), Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA), Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Ministry of Health and Population, Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Mzuzu City Council (MCC).