African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC) Zambia Chapter Chairperson Cornelius Mweetwa says government has all along been buying time on the presentation of the Access to Information Bill to Parliament.
Speaking on Radio Phoenix’s Let the People Talk this morning, Mr Mweetwa said government has now run out of excuses as to why the Bill cannot be taken to Parliament for enactment.
He said the Access to Information Bill if passed will enhance the fight against corruption and improve the management and utilization of public resources.
Mr Mweetwa added that the Access to Information Act would give effect and life to other anti corruption related laws such as the Public Interest Protection Whistle Blowers Act of 2010.
He said the eleven Acts that would come in conflict with the Access to Information Bill if enacted would not take two years to ammend if government was serious.
Speaking on the same programme, Information and Broadcasting services Permanent Secretary Emmanuel Mwamba said the legal impediments to the enactment of the Access to Information bill in its current form cited by the Attorney General are valid.
Meanwhile Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)is saddened by Governments delays to present the Information Bill.YALI wondered why Cabinet approved the Bill in the first place and then U-turned.
Below is the Full Press statement
1.The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is deeply saddened by delays by the PF administration to present the Access to Information Bill in Parliament especially that His Honour the Vice President, Guy Scott had months ago indicated that Cabinet had approved the Bill and he was ready to table it in Parliament until when he U-turned on the matter. The announcement by Information Permanent Secretary Emmanuel Mwamba that the Information Bill will not be tabled in Parliament in its current form saddens makes us question why Cabinet approved the Bill during its sitting.
Government’s indecision on the Information Bill can be compared to the behavior of Nigeria’s popular comedian, Ukwa, which must never be tolerated in management of the country’s affairs. If Cabinet and Government had realized the Information Bill would be in conflict with existing legislation in the country, why did Cabinet proceed to approve the Bill during its sitting? Although YALI has deep respect for Ms. Eva Jhala who has been engaged as consultant to study the draft Bill, we think this engagement is unnecessary wastage of taxpayers’ money and a way of delaying its presentation to Parliament as the Attorney General must have correctly advised Cabinet before it earlier approved the Bill.
Mr. Mumba Malila and his chambers, who have been reduced to rendering to political parties opinions on qualification of election candidates, must resign if he is failing to correctly advise Cabinet on important issues such as the Information Bill. We now understand the frustrations by President Sata that his Ministers are not performing for how could they meet as Cabinet and proceed to approve this important Bill without consideration of issues raised by Mr. Mwamba.
2. President’s Address to Parliament – Governance & Administration of Justice
Relatedly, YALI notes that President Sata’s official opening speech to Parliament lacked much detail on pronouncements he made on governance and administration of justice. The President missed an opportunity to remind the Technical Committee that their delay to release the final draft is negatively impacting on public perceptions on the PF Government’s commitment to deliver a people-driven Constitution within the shortest timeframe, as was promised during campaigns and his appointment of the Committee. Mr. Sata must have given policy direction on issues of the referendum after the document is handed over to Government and the public than remaining silent on this matter.
We note that President Sata has failed once again to strongly come out on condemning political violence and the failure by the Zambia Police to fairly enforce laws and deal with perpetrators of violence. The PF thugs who are being used to perpetrate violence against innocent citizens including their own Secretary General needed to be condemned in the strongest possible way by the highest office in this land.
The President completely avoided the continued occupation of Madam Justice Lombe Chibesakunda at the helm of the Judiciary despite opposition from the Law Association of Zambia and many other stakeholders. The public will continue to hold a feeling that Ms. Chibesakunda’s stay is being used to deal with political opponents, at the Supreme Court level, especially that the highest court has been rendering questionable political judgments.
We are deeply troubled that President Sata reduced his speech to simple remarks on issues of governance, the rule of law and administration of Justice.
Isaac Mwanza, Mr.
democracy & Governance specialist
YOUNG AFRICAN LEADERS INITIATIVE