LILONGWE (Malawi Democrat)-Malawiâ€™s Parliament on Wednesday May 30 repealed the law that allows publications to be banned.
Section 46 was amended by for the then Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government led by late president Bingu wa Mutharika to allow the information minister to ban publications deemed contrary to the public interest.
The government then backed the amendment with Chief Secretary to Office of President and Cabinet, Mr Bright Msaka, saying the amendment of Section 46 of the Penal Code was motivated by the desire to improve the law in line with the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, the rule of law, and precepts of democracy.
Msaka, who is himself a lawyer of high repute, said the media ban law was enacted â€œto take away the absolute discretion of the minister in the exercise of his powers.”
He had argued that the government wishes to reiterate that the amended Section 46 of the Penal Code applies the test of reasonableness to the minister’s decision.
Msaka said government would have been using the repressive law in cases of publication of material that is repulsive or pernicious to the public in Malawi, such as child pornography, incitement of violence or promotion of hatred, genocide or terrorism.
Msaka remains Chief Secretary in the President Joyce Banda government.
And cabinet agreed to repeal the law, saying it was not consistent with the democratic values.
Even former Minister of Information Symon Vuwa Kaunda also supported the repeal despite being one of the principle proponents of the law just some few months ago
Leader of the House Henry Phoya, a lawyer said Section 46 had been perceived as unreasonable limitation to free publication, freedom of speech and freedom of the media.
â€œThis piece of legislature has been a subject of protracted controversy. This is one Bill that gave this country a wrong image without giving government any tangibleÂ benefits,â€ said Phoya.
And within an hour or so, the Bill was passed.
This is the third repeal that the parliament, now controlled by the new administration of Joyce Banda, has managed to throw out responding to demands by right groups in the country and influential western donors.