The African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) has called on the Zambian Government to enact an Access to Information (ATI) Law following the government’s numerous promises to do so since its election in 2011.
The call was made during the APAI Regional Conference on Access to Information held in Lusaka, Zambia at the end of September 2013.
The conference, which had over 100 participants in attendance, called on the Zambian Government to enact the ATI Law to ensure transparency and accountability in government.
During the conference, contributions made by speakers sought to correct the notion that ATI is a media law and, instead, reiterated that the enactment and effective implementation of an ATI law is more beneficial to citizens than the media.
The Zambian Permanent Secretary of Information and Broadcasting Services, Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba, spoke candidly on the need to empower citizens of Zambia by embracing ATI.
The World Bank’s public sector specialist, Ms Kate Bridges, said in respect of good governance, an ATI law would enhance the ability of citizens to participate in decision-making as such citizens, furnished with full information of the mechanisms, processes and institutions, would beempowered to make informed decisions.
According to her, the power of information has the effect of ensuring that delivery of public services and allocation of public resources serve the public’s interest.
The Executive Director of Zambia Land Alliance, Mr. Henry Machina, reported that the absence of an ATI law in Zambia makes it very difficult for his organization and for citizens to know clearly what land is available for acquisition.
He pointed out that without an ATI law in place, it is also difficult to know how land-related investments decisions are being made, how problems affecting settlement of displacement of people in mineral rich areas are being resolved, what land reforms are in place and what progress, if any, is taking place.
The regional conference was jointly organized by the Zambian Chapter and the Regional Secretariat of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), in collaboration with the African Platform on Access to Information; the Working Group of APAI; the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA); Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung; the World Bank; and the Zambia Governance Foundation.
For further information about the conference, visit zambia-action.org