Access To Information, A Tool Towards Development

Ronald Chigwada

Civil society organisations in Zimbabwe say access to information is critical for tracking progress and enhancing community developments. This came out during the 2021 commemorations of International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).

International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) is commemorated annually on the 28th of September, the theme for 2021 is “The Right to Know – Building Back Better with Access to Information.”

In an interview with CORAH, Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) Chairperson Pelagia Kapuya said she is delighted that 2021 IDUAI commemorations come at a time when the government has just licensed 14 community radio stations as a way of being actively supportive of the right to information.

“ZACRAS is of the belief that the licensing of community broadcasters will promote citizen participation in governance processes as communities now own and control information channels. The world over, access to information is the backbone of any democratic society and its provision enhances community development”, said Kapuya.

Kapuya also urged the government of Zimbabwe to not temper with citizens’ right to access to information by fully respecting the editorial policies and programming independence of community radio stations that have been given licenses across the country.

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) acknowledged the significance of the day in helping to spread awareness, to push for the betterment of access to information to bring community development, and pave a way for positive change.

VISET also noted that there is a lack of useful information concerning how informal traders should operate in line with regulations, and this lack of information has at times thrown their members on the wrong side of the law.

“It is our belief as VISET that many of the confrontations we see between vendors and the regulatory authorities would be non-existent if the former were furnished with adequate information on their constitutional rights and obligations”.

Giving a comment on the importance of IDUAI, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) deputy secretary-general Munyaradzi Masiyiwa noted that lack of access to information amongst citizens has led to failure or distrust in government’ programs as there is an outcry for transparency and accountability on how government branches operate.

He added that many ARTUZ members especially those in remote areas are on the dark side regarding the positive and negative effects of vaccination.

We expected to see more awareness campaigns concerning this vaccination process but what we are witnessing now are either myths about the vaccines or threats from the government concerning the unvaccinated”, said Masiyiwa.

International Day for Universal Access to Information is a yardstick to ensure the smooth flow of information measure successes and failures on ways to promote “Access to Information” as a right to everyone across the world.

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