THE Access to Information (ATI) Bill will minimize on the increasing leakage of classified Government documents to the public, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Information and Broadcasting Services heard yesterday.

Non-Governmental Organizations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) advocacy officer Whitney Mulobela submitted before members of Parliament that the access to information law would enhance governance and transparency. He said the enactment of the ATI Bill was essential for all citizens and the country in general.

Mr Mulobela said access to information was a basic right and should be guaranteed by the State to all citizens.

“Based on the forgoing, NGOCC strongly recommends that the Zambian Government must without any further delay immediately enact the access to information law. Government must as matter of urgency reintroduce the Access to Information Bill to Parliament so that it is enacted into law,” he said.

Mr Mulobela said access to information was critical and its importance could not be over-emphasized.

“Successive governments, including the PF, had promised to enact the access to information law. However, all of them have failed to enact this very important law,” Mr Mulobela said.

He said once the document was signed into law it would promote citizens’ empowerment, good governance and sustainable development.

Mr Mulobela said other benefits included promoting transparency, accountability, corruption and service delivery and Government operations.

And the Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) executive director Boniface Cheembe also submitted that the major challenge was that all successive governments had failed to legislate the Access to Information Bill because of lack of political will. Mr Cheembe added that successive governments had unfounded fears of enacting the ATI Bill that if such a law was enacted it might be recipe for instability in the nation.

“As a way forward SACCORD recommended that as matter of urgency this Access to Information Bill be enacted which could lead to sustainable development,” he said.

Mr Cheembe said the public officers or public relations managers needed to be trained to build their capacity to use social media to update and load information that was user friendly.


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