BY Staff Reporter

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe chapter has said the recently gazetted Freedom of Information Bill does not adequately reflect globally accepted access to information standards and best practice.

In a submission to Information minister on the Bill, Misa-Zimbabwe chairperson Golden Maunganidze protested that most of the submissions made by non-governmental organisations and stakeholders during the inter-ministerial taskforce-led engagement on the repeal of Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA) did not make it into the current version of the Bill.

“Submissions made during these meetings have not been included in the Bill, save for the reduction of the period within which requests for information have to
be finalised,” Maunganidze said.

“The Bill also retains vast, far-reaching blanket bans on the classes of information that cannot be requested or accessed in terms of this law. The threshold
for denying access to information is set so low that when passed into law, this Bill will not result in a positive or significant shift in Zimbabwe’s access to
information regime.”

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He said in some instances, the Bill removes some of the positive aspects of AIPPA such as a section which permitted for the voluntary disclosure of information
that is in the public interest, but is no longer there in the proposed legislation.

“The Bill is also silent on the internal transfers of requests for information submitted to the wrong entity. It is unclear whether these provisions were
intentionally omitted for whether these are drafting errors,” the Misa boss said.

He added: “Another contentious issue is the assignment of the role to oversee the enjoyment and exercise of the right to access to information solely to the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC). This is erroneous as the ZMC is tasked only with media freedom issues.”