• general@panos.org.zm
  • +260-211-263258
  • Mon - Sat 8:00 - 18:00
  • By Panos
  • June 26, 2024
  • No Comments

Panos commends the Zambian government for operationalizing the Access to Information law

Lusaka, 26 June 2024: Panos Institute Southern Africa commends the Zambian Government, through the Ministry of Information and Media, for operationalizing the Access to Information Act, paving the way for increased citizen participation in driving the country’s governance and development agenda.

On 25th June 2024, through Statutory Instrument No. 35 of 2024, the Minister of Information and Media, Hon. Cornelius Mweetwa issued the Access to Information Act (Commencement) Order, 2024, thereby operationalizing the ATI Act No. 24 of 2023.

This is a giant step forward, the opening of a new chapter where citizens and other stakeholders will have improved opportunities to access information and use it to hold decision-makers accountable. The operationalization of the law will contribute to increased citizen agency in fostering democratic accountability, and it will enhance citizen engagement with public bodies and private or non-state actors, that utilize public funds or are in possession of information that is of significant public interest.

Over the years, Panos has worked with various state and non-state actors in the quest for enactment and implementation of an ATI law in Zambia. Following the enactment of the law in December 2023, we have been working closely with various stakeholders to lay the ground for effective implementation of the law. Through the USAID Open Spaces Zambia project, we have over the last few years implemented various stakeholder engagement and capacity building interventions. We have partnered with the Human Rights Commission to sensitize and equip its Members and Staff. We have also supported the Ministry of Information and Media, working with various government agencies, to develop the Regulations and Guidelines which will guide the implementation of the law.  Furthermore, we have conducted and will continue to conduct trainings for information holders – including elected and appointed local government representatives – to equip them to effectively play their role as provided for in the Access to Information Act No. 24 of 2023.

We call on citizens and resident permit holders to use the law to request for and use information held by different information holders. We also encourage information requesters to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the law and the channels and procedures for requesting information.

We call on information holders – both private and public entities – to also support the effective implementation of the law, by responding to requests and timeously providing requested information in line with the provisions of the law.

We urge the government and the cooperating partners to adequately support the Human Rights Commission to play its oversight functions which include hearing and determining appeals against decisions of information holders relating to access to information, advising information holders on relevant matters, and working with the Ministry of Information and Media – among other actors – to raise public awareness on the right to access information and the roles of different stakeholders in the effective implementation of the ATI Law.

Issued By:

 Vusumuzi Sifile

Executive Director

Email: general@panos.org.zm