Parliament on Tuesday passed the Communications Bill after government was forced to make some changes to the draft following protests by The Media Institute of Southern Africa Malawi Chapter (MISA-Malawi).
Among the changes is the appointment to the boards and management of Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) and Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) which now will have to be approved by Public Appointments Committee (Pac) of Parliament.
Government was forced to make a number of changes to the original Bill which former Minister of Information, Jappie Mhango, tabled in the House in March this year after MISA-Malawi appealed to members of Parliament to reject the draft Bill, arguing it contained significant changes that defeat the whole essence of reviewing the Communications Act of 1998.
The 1998 Act has been outdated and compromises the independence of Macra and the state broadcaster, MBC as it empowered the Head of State to be sole appointing authority for the boards and management of the two institutions.
The passed Communications Bill takes into account emerging issues in the communications and broadcasting sector as well as the need to align regulations in the sector with progressive democratic principles as enshrined in Malawi’s Republican Constitution and international instruments.