By Staff Reporter
HARARE – Zimbabwe today commemorated the International Day of Universal Access to Information amidst enactment of laws and registration of community registration.
The International Day of Universal Access to Information is commemorated annually with the thrust to avail universal access to information and this year is running under the theme, “Right to know, Building better with Access to Information.”
The commemorations are central in justifying the need for citizen’s access to information related to budgets, health and most government business.
“ Access to Information remains a critical component to a plural media space. Covid 19 has shown the importance of access to information for health related information. Traditional access to information issues like budget information, policy and legislative changes remain critical and fair, balanced and accurate information.” MISA Zimbabwe Regional Director, Golden Maunganidze also said .
The commemorations come at a time the country is celebrating the registration of eight community radio’s by the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Association, ZACRAS.
“Until recently there have no community radio stations, this occasion which comes after two decades of engagement from ZACRAS and MISA with Government following a protracted hereditary legislative challenges dating as far back as the Broadcasting Act of 1957.” Mlondolozi Ndhlovu the ZACRAS representative said.
However, while such positives exist, negatives are still prevalent as repressive legislation are still used to stifle and muzzle mainly private media.
“As MISA we are disheartened by the outcome of the Freedom of Access to Information Bill as some of the issues that we had highlighted as repressive were incorporated. We have written a letter to the President which we think he should consider and not sign the Bill.” Nqaba Matshazi The MISA Zimbabwe Regional Campaigns Fundraising Coordinator said.
Government emphasised it’s commitment to see to the pluralization of the media space and warranty access to information.
“As government, we are ever committed to avail access to information through the continual efforts to license more private player’s, community radio stations, campus radio stations. The second dispensation is geared at availing access to information to not only media professionals but the general citizens.” Deputy Minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Kindness Paradza said.
Furthermore, Parliament which was recognized by MISA for its informative website emphasised their commitment to facilitate access o information.
“Whatever we do is centred on the people of Zimbabwe as called for by Section 117.1 of the constitution. Section 141 talks of Parliament being open and accessible to public guaranteeing the interactive nature of our website. Last week we actually launched a new website which is more interactive and disability friendly.” Clerk of Parliament Mr Kuda Chinoda said.
Mixed reactions were conveyed by residents association’s in relation to Ministry’s compliance to availing information.
“We sent through our request to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure development and we got a response in 9days but we also sent some inquiries to the Ministry of Information and Ministry of Finance but nothing yet has been done.” Chitungwiza Manyame Resident’s Association, said.
Access to Information remains a basic human right which citizens have been deprived in the rhetorics of state security, privacy law among other issues.
By Staff Reporter