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Zambian government urged to enact Access to Information bill

By Masuzyo Chakwe

Thirteen civil society organisations have asked the government to immediately take steps to ensure that the Access to Information (ATI) bill is presented during the next sitting of Parliament without further delay.

The 13 organisations include the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), Transparency International Zambia (TIZ), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia, The Press Freedom Committee of The Post (PFC), Southern Africa Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD), Catholic Media Services (CMS), NGOCC, Women in Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), Zambia Federation of Disability Organisations (ZAFOD), Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR), Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) and ActionAid Zambia.

In a joint communiqué signed on 13 September 2013, they stated that in demanding the enactment of the ATI law, they would continue to engage the government to ensure that the content of the draft ATI bill is in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Zambia and that the government outlines the timeline for the enactment of the ATI law.

"We, the undersigned members of the civil society organisations, meeting this day of September 10, 2013, at Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) recognising the importance of Access to Information (ATI) law, acknowledging that ATI law is critical to the people's effective participation in the governance systems of our country, realising that its enactment will enhance accountability, transparency and fight corruption, appreciating that the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) manifesto supports this law and noting that the process of enacting the ATI law continues to drag on, do hereby demand that; [the] government immediately takes steps to ensure that the ATI bill is presented during the next sitting of Parliament without further delay," they stated.

They stated that as organisations, they remain committed to ensuring that the people are kept informed on the importance of the ATI law and the need for its enactment.

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