By Margaret Kabuswe
MISA Zambia says a free media and an informed citizenry is vital if meaningful development is to take place in Zambia.
MISA Zambia Chairperson Fr. Barnabas Simatende said this at the Access to Information Civil Society Organization workshop at M’kango Golfview Hotel in Lusaka this morning.
The Chairperson said the right of Access to Information (ATI) cannot be separated from other vital rights such as freedom of expression and participation in governance.
Fr. Simatende said that access to public information is the oxygen which facilitates effective citizen participation in decision making.
He mentioned that if citizens are denied access to information, their ability to benefit from envisioned government plans is denied and subsequently this goes against the government’s motto of leaving no one behind.
He added that MISA Zambia in collaboration with different stakeholders shall continue to champion the campaign for the ATI bill and advocate for freedom of the media and freedom of expression which are essential for democracy.
Speaking during the same occasion, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Zambia Resident Representative, Mr. Fritz Kopsieker reiterated the organization’s commitment towards supporting the process of enacting the ATI Bill to promote media freedom.
Mr. Kopsieker said the ATI Bill is not only meant for journalists alone but the entire citizenry who can benefit from accessing the much-needed information from government to enhance transparency and accountability.
He further hoped that the new dawn government working closely with partners such as MISA Zambia the ATI Bill that that has eluded Zambia for more than 20 years will come to a fruitful conclusion on the ATI law in the near future.