By Nhau Mangirazi
HARARE- Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Senator Monica Mutsvangwa on Thursday challenged media to amplify the Freedom of Information Act that empowers the public right to information.
The Freedom of Information Act repealed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), providing citizens and media practitioners with the right to access information thereby making legal frameworks and mechanisms for accessing information from public and private bodies.
Speaking during the launch of My Freedom of Information campaign, a platform aimed at raising awareness on the Freedom of Information Act for vulnerable groups and journalists, she said the public has a right to know.
“The new law provides for the obligation on entities to have a written information disclosure policy. The law also provides for the provision of information in a language requested by the applicant. These practical provisions if well-resourced and are made know to the citizens and journalists, will ensure that citizens enjoy their constitutional freedoms and rights to information, as well as freedom of expression,” Mutsvangwa said.
She explained that there is need for mandatory designation of Information Officers in all public and private entities that shall be responsible for handling information requests and disclosure of information to the public. Minister Mutsvangwa implored citizens and journalist to apply the law and be positive about the government initiatives to repeal the infamous AIPPA,observing that citizens; especially women, girls and youths, must put the law to the test.
The campaign was launched by Tag a Life International (TaLI), in collaboration with Fojo Media Institute, Identities Media TV and the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.It will intensify women and girls’ right to access information as when required.
Fojo Media Institute stressed that the Freedom of Information Act is critical in advancing female empowerment among women and girls. “This is an initiative designed to publicize this law so that citizens, especially women, girls, female journalists may begin to enjoy the law and assert their rights to access to information.
The campaign is being implemented by TaLI, with support from the Fojo Media Institute, International Media Support (IMS), and with funding from the Embassy,’’ said the statement during the official launch.The campaign kicked off with virtual training of ambassador journalists on the Freedom of Information Act on Wednesday.
The campaign is likely to bridge the gap for the marginalized communities so that they get access to information through all media platforms that the journalists will use to amplify their concerns and how best these can be addressed.