Panos Continues to Sensitize the Public on Access to Information (ATI)
In its continued efforts to create public awareness and mobilize citizen involvement in the process to enact the Access to Information (ATI) law in Zambia, Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf), conducted a community town hall meeting in Matero compound under Matero constituency on 18th August 2023 and a public forum on 30th August 2023 in Mtendere compound in Munali constituency. The two events targeted various members of the community that included community leaders and persons with disabilities to enable them to understand the significance of ATI as it relates to their right to access information from public entities and hold them accountable on management of public affairs and public service delivery.
The events are part of the USAID Open Spaces Zambia project interventions in Zambia aimed at strengthening democratic foundations and are rooted in the understanding that access to information is a critical element in a democratic society, that significantly contributes to a country’s development. It empowers citizens with the requisite information to make informed decisions, supports freedom of expression and fosters accountability among elected and appointed public officials. Accurate information grants citizens the ability to stay informed about government activities and to actively participate in decision-making on matters that affect their wellbeing.
Zambia has been engaged in protracted process to enact an ATI law to guarantee citizens access to public information and to compel public entities to proactively disclose information of public interest and importance. However, citizens as beneficiaries have been on the margins of the process, thus the two public events to mobilize active citizen participation in the process.
The two events granted the participants the opportunity to gain knowledge on ATI and to engage the facilitators and share ideas on ways they could participate in and influence the ATI process.
During the community town hall meeting in Matero, 139 signatures were collected in support of the petition to government to enact the ATI law. An additional 90 signatures were garnered in the Mtendere public forum endorsing the petition. This was spearheaded by Alliance for community Action (ACA), a partner on the USAID OSZ project.
The two events were jointly organised and conducted by USAID OSZ partners and the ATI Coalition in Zambia.