Why We Need The Freedom Bill To Be Enacted Into Law Now

By Waziona Nkhwekwe Chirwa

Democracy was invented by the Greeks about 507 BC and at the heart of democracy is well a informed and alert public to the activities of the
public servants.

Those who lead with honour and integrity have nothing to fear from the masses. Only witchcraft, abuse of power and corruption are done in secret
precisely because of the abhorrent nature of such evil and unholy conduct.

Time has come to enact the Freedom of Information Bill into law in Zambia.

It is shameful and tragic that Zambia as a pioneer of democracy in Africa is still grappling with the enactment of  basic good governance
laws like the freedom of information law.

We must as a country stop clinging to the edifice of our  decadent past of tyrannical forms of governance that prides itself in excessive
and useless secrecy.

The Freedom of Information Bill demands all requests for information should be processed quickly and fairly by individuals within public
bodies responsible for handling requests and complying with the law.

In case of denial, the Freedom of Information Bill provides a procedure for appeal to an independent, public information commission and from there to the High Court by way of judicial review.

Why is freedom of information important to the people of Zambia, one might ask?
It is important for the maintenance of democracy.
It enables citizens to ensure that their government is transparent. Access to Information enhances citizen’s capacity to participate in
the democratic process by allowing him/her to make informed decisions about matters pertinent to governance of the Country.

It gives citizens power to make informed decisions about the type of government they want. It helps fight corruption and naked abuse of
power.
Disclosing information is important to prevent danger to people’s lives e.g. if there is an outbreak of cholera in Lusaka people can
easily be informed through  Radio stations and newsprint.

In each and every country, it is important for citizens to know what is happening in their society and country at large, as they are the
owners of the Country in the first place.

Freedom of Information is not only important  to people, but it is an essential part of any good government.

If the above law is implemented and implemented it should be, the people of Zambia will finally be able to effectively monitor those who
run their national affairs on their behalf.

I have no doubt that once enacted the freedom of information act will finally and permanently heal the boil of abuse of power, that has
caused untold discomfort and suffering to us the Zambian people for the last 50 years!

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