Media Liaison Committee shocked by Lungu’s retrogressive thinking on Freedom of Information

The  Media Liaison Committee (MLC) says it has received with shock and disappointment the statement by President Edgar Lungu that his Government is reluctant to enact the Access to Information Law owing to alleged unprofessionalism by media practitioners.

MCL Spokesperson Patson Phiri has said that the statement by Lung u does not resonate with democratic discourses that are spreading the world-over.

Phiri pointed out that within Africa, countries like Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa, Rwanda and Liberia have vibrant ATI Laws and 95 per cent of the users are non-media practitioners.

He explains that the Access to Information Law is not meant for media practitioners, but for the people of Zambia to use to settle anxieties for missing information necessary for their economic, social and related desires.

Phiri said journalists would not find ATI any useful because of the long processes involved in accessing such information.

Even the leaderless Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia Chapter is taken aback by Lungu’s statement that he is thinking twice about enacting Access to Information Bill because of the conduct by some media practitioners.

MISA Zambia Chapter Chairperson Hellen Mwale, a PF cadre, has challenged Lungu to tell the nation what he is scared of in enacting the Access to Information Bill.

The Watchdog believes that whether Lungu enacts the Freedom of information Bill or not, government secrets will continue leaking. In fact, without the Freedom of information law, it is more satisfying to a journalist to expose a government secret like the one under current debate. So Kaminaminsa should not think he can block the flow of information by his refusal to enact the freedom of Information bill. By not enacting that law, Lungu will be just confirming what most people already know, that he is as hopeless as his predecessors. Lungu simply needs to look at how State House secrets come out everyday to know that journalists do not necessarily need that particular law for them to function. In fact, under a regime like PF, even if such a law were passed, it would not achieve its purpose. It would still be impossible to access information from PF government officials.

And for Lungu’s own information, the Freedom of Information law is not for journalists. It is for every member of public who wishes to access certain, specific information held by a particular government department

 

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