Access to Information Bill being scrutinised

13 Jun 2016 17:10pm
WINDHOEK, 13 JUN (NAMPA) – The Access to Information Draft Bill is being scrutinised by representatives of State-owned enterprises, government and private organisations.
The 48-page draft bill is being reviewed over five days, starting Monday.
Once drafted into law, it will give every individual the right to seek, access and receive information from public bodies or private bodies that perform public functions.
Speaking during the opening of the consultative conference in Windhoek, Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Stanley Simataa said the legal framework should preserve national peace and security while providing agility and legally enforceable parameters for those seeking to assert their right to access information.
This is because access to information in any democratic dispensation is a right which should be legally enforceable.
Simataa also noted that a robust access to information legal framework is a vital cog in society's eternal fight against corruption and a potent weapon at the disposal of ordinary citizens to hold their government accountable and fully participate in civic and developmental activities.
He added that when the security of a nation is compromised, individual citizens cannot exercise their civil liberties, nor assert their rights as provided for the constitution or other relevant informational instrument.
Such right includes access to information which is imperative for a secure and peaceful state.
The deputy minister said the draft bill should be thoroughly scrutinised to weed out and strengthen certain provisions that are universally common, adding that the legal framework must truly reflect the country's national context.
“We need a legal framework that will regulate the often fractured relations in our dealings with the media and members of the public when seeking information,” he stated.
He also called for the legal framework to help ward off constant criticism of unwillingness on the part of the government machinery to provide information and an agile legal framework that will cultivate an orderly culture of seeking information, thus avoiding current tendencies where information is sourced “by resorting to unethical means.”