MISA Zambia has called on the government to expedite the enactment of the Access to Information (ATI) Bill into law.
The government has pledged full support towards intentions by the Zambian media to operate under statutory self-regulation.
“You may be aware that Zambia has not yet enacted its Access to Information Bill into law,” said MISA Zambia Chairperson Hellen Mwale, during the 18th MISA Zambia Platinum and Golden Media Awards in Lusaka.
Ms. Mwale stressed that the process of enacting the ATI Bill was as old as the media awards had been held since 2002.
“We are calling upon the government to enact this piece of legislation which has stalled for the same duration the MISA Zambia awards have been in existence,” she noted.
Ms Mwale observed that speedy enactment of the ATI Bill into law would benefit every Zambian citizen.
“This piece of legislation is not just for the media, but is a Bill for all Zambians, and empowers them to hold the government to account while encouraging transparency,” she explained.
The MISA Zambia Chairperson noted that delay in enacting the Bill was tantamount to hindering the free flow of information in the country.
“Access to information will not only bring hope to the citizens but also help them build trust in the government and governance systems of the country,” Ms Mwale added.
Meanwhile, the Zambian government has vowed to support the media’s proposal to operate under statutory self-regulation.
President Edgar Lungu noted that government would support statutory self-regulation through the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services (MIBS) and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).
“I am delighted to note that you have already taken a step in this direction by declaring your intentions to have a statutory self-regulation mechanism for which you have submitted a layman’s Bill. My government is in full support of the step you have taken and will give you all the support through the relevant ministries,” Dr Lungu said.
He observed that statutory self-regulation would make the fourth estate as organized as the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary arms of government.
“The Executive branch of government has been calling upon journalists to be more organized. The desire of the Executive branch of government, which I am head of, is to see the media as organized as the other three branches of government,” the president said.
Dr Lungu said this in a speech read on his behalf by MIBS Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga at the 18th MISA Zambia Platinum and Golden Media Awards in Lusaka.