THE National Constitutional Conference (NCC) has rejected a clause which could have guaranteed citizens the right of access to information held by Government.
Article 56 (1) (a) of the Willa Mung’omba draft Constitution states that every citizen has the right of access to information held by the State.
Contributing to the debate on the article, commissioner Divo Katete said he did not support the article because there was no need to release State information to the public.
Mr Katete said the State held information that was classified and could not be released to the public anyhow.
Another delegate, Japhet Moyo said the article was wrong because people would even be asking for reasons why the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) entered a nolle prosequi.
Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Fashion Phiri said he did not agree with the article because even in the United States of America, information was kept secret even to researchers until after a certain period of time.
The NCC plenary, however, adopted article 55 (1) (a) which gives citizens freedom to hold an opinion and the freedom to receive or impart information or ideas.
Press Association of Zambia president Andrew Sakala and lawyer Patrick Matibini supported the clause, saying it should include the freedom of artistic creativity and academic freedom which were not covered in the current Constitution.
Bahati Member of Parliament Besa Chimbaka and Independent Churches of Zambia president David Masupa supported the clause while Anti-Voter Apathy director Bonnie Tembo said the article should not state that there would be no interference to receiving some information.
Article 55 (2) which was also adopted said the freedom did not extend to propaganda for war, incitement to violence and advocacy of hatred.
[Times of Zambia]