Home 9 Access to information 9 MISA Zambia commends Parliament for passing ATI Bill after 21 years of Advocacy

MISA Zambia commends Parliament for passing ATI Bill after 21 years of Advocacy

14 Dec, 2023
Access to information is a fundamental right that empowers citizens to make informed decisions, hold public officials accountable, and strengthens democratic governance

PRESS STATEMENT

For Immediate Release

Lusaka – Today marks a historic milestone for media freedom and transparency in Zambia, as the Zambian Parliament yesterday successfully passed the Access to Information (ATI) Bill after two decades of relentless advocacy and discussion.

MISA Zambia commends this significant achievement, which reflects a positive step towards fostering an open and informed society and transparent government.

Yesterday, the ATI Bill smoothly progressed through the legislative journey, securing approval during the third reading in Parliament. It has now entered a crucial phase, awaiting the President’s assent after successfully passing all stages in the House.

MISA Zambia appreciates the commitment and joint efforts of all stakeholders who played a role in realizing this crucial legislation such as the government, media, the public and cooperating partners who never grew weary and were positive that this day would come.

The Minister of Justice, Mulambo Haimbe, rightly highlighted the progressive nature of the ATI legislation, emphasizing the government’s unwavering commitment to upholding the rule of law.

MISA Zambia welcomes this commitment and believes that the Access to Information Act is a cornerstone for ensuring accountability, transparency, and the protection of citizens’ right to access information they need to hold government accountable in addition to information that will enable them benefit from government programs.

Access to information is a fundamental right that empowers citizens to make informed decisions, hold public officials accountable, and strengthens democratic governance. MISA Zambia acknowledges the government’s recognition of the importance of this right and commends Parliament for translating this recognition into concrete action.

MISA Zambia encourages President Hakainde Hichilema to expeditiously give assent to this legislation, underscoring the significance of this legislation in fostering a culture of openness and responsiveness within the government.

As we await the Presidential assent, MISA Zambia remains committed to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to ensure effective implementation and monitoring of the ATI law.

We are glad to note that in December 2022, President Hakainde Hichilema repealed the Defamation of the President Section in the Penal Code. These major developments are positive for the country’s democratic growth and it is setting Zambia for even better things to come.

Further, we note that the media was allowed to regulate itself and has since put in place a self-regulation mechanism. This is a third milestone worth noting too that is indicating positive policy development as it relates to media freedom, freedom of expression and the right of access to information which are key for government transparency and democratic growth.

Issued by:

Mrs. Lorraine Mwanza Chisanga

Chairperson – MISA Zambia

About MISA

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was founded in 1992. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.

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