The Zitukule Consortium says successive governments’ hesitation to enact Access to Information Bill is a huge disadvantage to both government and the public because information is unable to flow freely.

In a statement, Tuesday, Zitukule Consortium executive director Nicolas Phiri stated that he did not understand why government was afraid to enact the ATI bill.

“Zitukule consortium finds it hard to understand why successive governments in Zambia grow cold feet to enact Access to Information (ATI) Bill into Law. In the contemporary world, access to information law is not only in the interest of citizens’ human rights, but also in the interest of the state and public officials. In Zambia, just like in other countries where access to information by the public is limited, governments have paid a far heavier price than having ATI law. This is so because lack of free flow of information creates a vacuum between the decision makers in government and the citizens who are the ultimate consumers and beneficiaries of those decisions,” Phiri said.

He observed that it would be difficult for government to deal with social media rumors if the ATI bill was not enacted.

“With the social media revolution, the rumor mill kicks in to exploit the information vacuum with all sorts of propaganda, lies, malice and inciting information. In the process, public perceptions about governance, government officials and decision making is based on information churned from the rumor mill rather than from credible statutory sources,” stated Phiri.

“It is a sad state of affairs that in our country, the Access to Information Bill has taken a decade and half on the shelves. Several new Bills have come and seen the light of day while the ATI Bill continues to gather dust. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Political Party Bill, which only came in 2017 and the Proposed Cyber Laws see the light of day before the ATI Bill which was started in 2002 has its day in parliament.”