26 June 2012

Zambia: FoI Launch Postponed

THE launch of the freedom of Information Bill (FoI) slated for today has been postponed to a date to be announced later awaiting the Attorney General to append his signature.

Information and Broadcasting Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga disclosed this yesterday in Lusaka during the coalition on Access to Information (ATI) expo at World Bank offices.

Mr Malupenga explained that the Bill would not be launched today because being that the Attorney General had not approved it.

"The launching which is supposed to take place today will not take place because the Attorney General has not signed the document.

"If you have seen the document, on the first page there is a provision for the Attorney General to sign but it has not been done because he (Mumba Malila) is out of the country and expected back today," he said.

The new date for the launch would be communicated once the document was signed by next week.

Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) Executive director Goodwell Lungu said at the same function that the FoI bill would enhance the fight against corruption.

He said lack of access to information by citizens hindered national development and had contributed to the high levels of corruption Zambia was experiencing.

"Lack of access to information has for along time been hindering development.

"For example if government embarks on a project, people in the area will just know that such a project is coming but not how much will be spent and in the process same little money allocated will be diverted to other things corruptly," he said.

Mr Lungu said the Bill was critical for accountability purposes and it was an eye opener to good public service delivery.

He said that a proper mechanism should be put in place that would allow active participation of the citizens in the process.

He said the commission in charge of the Bill should ensure all its necessities were attended to, though it would come with its own challenges but this was not unique to Zambia.

And Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Chairperson Daniel Sikazwe said the FoI Bill would help journalists enrich their information as they informed the country.

He said access to information was important to citizens as it would make them feel secured.

And on the translation of the copy to seven major local languages, Jane Chirwa from MISA Zambia said the process was progressing well as Horizon Printers had been engaged to carry out the printing process.

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