Harare, April 29, 2014 – Zimbabwe’s state run bus operator, the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) has been ranked as the most closed and secretive public body in the country.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe chapter (MISA-Zimbabwe) on Tuesday named ZUPCO as the most secretive of the surveyed institutions in a report on the accessibility of information from public bodies.
The report which was launched as part of a build up to festivities to mark press freedom day which will be commemorated on Saturday was launched Tuesday in the capital Harare.
MISA-Zimbabwe national director Nhlanhla Ngwenya noted that the annual research survey had noted that ZUPCO was still to have a functional website in addition to its failure to respond to written requests.
“For the second year running, ZUPCO remained the most secretive of the surveyed institutions and was still to have a functional website in addition to its failure to respond to written requests during the period under review,” said Nhlanhla.
According to Ngwenya, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) is the most transparent public body in Zimbabwe.
“The SRC, on the other hand, was the most open and transparent as it diligently addressed the questions raised by MISA-Zimbabwe while Zimsec was the runner- up and most improved public institution,” he said.
The survey consisted of 12 randomly sampled institutions which comprised of state-run institutions such as the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council ( ZIMSEC), Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO), Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), Ministry of Tourism, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Ministry of Home Affairs, the then Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education and the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment.
According to the survey findings, the majority of institutions remain closed when it comes to placing information in the public domain.
Ngwenya said 67 percent of the public institutions under review, can easily be qualified as secretive especially in light of their failure to respond to requests for information.
The MISA-Zimbabwe national director, however, noted that the inaccessibility of information from public institutions was not limited to Zimbabwe alone given that the accessibility of information levels in Malawi, Tanzania, Namibia and Zimbabwe ranged between 33 and 37 percent.
Meanwhile, deputy Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira on Tuesday disclosed that the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI), which was set up to examine professional standards and ethics in the media industry will wrap up its work by the end of July.
“We gave IMPI four months to complete this work…so we are still expecting that by the end of July they would have completed their work,” said Mandiwanzira, who was the keynote speaker at a breakfast meeting on the state of access to information organised by MISA-Zimbabwe.
Mandiwanzira also disclosed that the government would have opened up the broadcasting services sector by licensing community radio stations by the end of the year while some provincial commercial radio stations would soon be granted operating licences.
The former journalist said the restrictive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) is among the more than 400 laws that are being reviewed for realignment with the new constitution.