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Government commits to passing freedom of information bill

(MISA/IFEX) - On 11 January 2008, during the official opening of Parliament Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa announced that the government had decided to re-introduce the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) back into Parliament in 2008, following wide consultation.

In his speech, Mwanawasa said his government recognised the media as a powerful educative and information tool for development. He said it was for this reason that his government would remain committed to creating an environment in which the media can operate freely. Mwanawasa added that government wanted to ensure that the free flow of information among Zambian citizens be enhanced through such laws.

He said the media were a key tool that could help reduce corruption and poverty, as media coverage provides checks and balances on society and government.

"It is for this reason that government remains committed to the creation of a conducive environment for the media to operate freely and to ensure free flow of information. To this effect, government shall this year re-introduce the FOI Bill in this house," he said.

On 16 January, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Mike Mulongoti assured the Zambian public that the contents of the FOI Bill would be made public.

He said that the government had nothing to hide and that, since the Bill was about transparency, its enactment would be equally transparent. He said there was no need for concern among the public and reaffirmed the government's commitment to enact the Bill.

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