Organisations Urged To Embrace New Information Law
Media freedom lobby group, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Zimbabwe) has urged organizations to utilize online platforms to disseminate information in conformity with the recently enacted Freedom of Information Act.
The new Act, viewed as a giant step in the reform agenda, repeals the long-criticized Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and brings Zimbabwe’s information-related laws into conformity with the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.
MISA Zimbabwe hailed the new Act which they said should give effect to Section 61 and 62 of the constitution.
“The freedom of Information Act’ should be continuously evaluated to ensure it gives effect to Sections 61 and 62 of the constitution that provide for freedom of expression, media freedom and citizen’s rights to access to information,” said MISA Zimbabwe.
The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Senator Monica Mutsvangwa recently said the coming of the Act marked a notable milestone in Government’s media legislative reform programme.
“I am happy that the Second Republic Government has enacted a law that Zimbabweans will undoubtedly take pride in as it caters for all citizens regardless of their race, color, creed, religion, cultural beliefs and political persuasion,”
“… the enactment of the Freedom of Information Bill into law serves as a testimony of President ED Mnangagwa’s total commitment to instituting reforms in line with international best practices. By the same token, it shows what Zimbabweans can achieve when they commit to work together,” said Mutsvangwa.
The Act provided citizens and media practitioners with the right to access information as espoused by the Constitution through providing the legal frameworks and mechanisms for accessing information from public and private bodies.
It also makes it mandatory for all government departments to have an information officer who is either the head of that entity or a person appointed by the head.
The information officer has up to 21 days to consider each request for information and can refuse to make all or some of the requested information public, but under strictly set criteria, and all these decisions are subject to appeal.
The new law also sets out the procedure for accessing information held by public institutions or information held by any person, which is necessary for the exercise or protection of a right among other provisions.