Journalists in Zambia have called on citizens to step up pressure on the government so that it could enact a law to improve access to information, an industry body said on Monday.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia Chapter said it is concerned that the government has failed to enact the Access to Information law since 2002 when the process started.
While acknowledging the government’s recent pronouncement that it will ensure that a bill on the law was tabled in parliament this year, the media body said journalists were now fed up with promises that have not been actualized in the enactment of the law.
“While this is a positive step, we hope it is an honest indication of concrete will to actually see the Access to Information bill enacted into law in Zambia. This is so because in the past, the same excuses and inconsistences have been used to delay the presentation of the bill,” the media body said in a statement.
“Government should not politicize the Access to Information bill; there should be concrete assurance from the officers concerned to ensure that there is no chance of u-turning at any stage,” it added.
The media body has since called on the government to come up with a roadmap indicating the timeline of the processes leading up to the presentation of the bill with an estimated timeframe for public accountability.
According to the media body, it has been proved that access to information was not only a fundamental right but also a means to power because once individuals have the right information, they will be in a position to respond and make informed decisions concerning on how they are being governed.
“With such instances, it is clear that access to information has a serious role to play in a society and this is a trend being reflected by other democratic countries in southern Africa and beyond. It is our hope that the Access to Information bill is presented to parliament without any hurdle,” the media body said. Enditem