Ensure Access to Information Bill is Enacted: Zambia’s Faith, Civil Leaders to Government

The Logo of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR). Credit: JCTR

Officials of the Civil Society Organization (CSO), Access to Information (ATI) Coalition on Zambia, are calling on the country’s leadership to make every effort to ensure the ATI Bill is enacted into law as soon as possible.

In a Wednesday, February 23 statement, CSO ATI officials who include representatives of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) say contrary to the belief that the ATI Bill is only important to the media, it is of significance to all Zambians.

“The Government should do everything possible not to divert from its pledge of enacting the Access to Information law especially that it’s among the reasons that Zambians entrusted them with power,” they say in the statement signed by CSO ATI chairperson, Fr. Alex Muyebe. 

CSO ATI officials say the ATI Bill “can and should be enacted before June 2022.”

ATI Bill has been pending since 2002 when it was withdrawn from Parliament. 


The Freedom of Information Bill, as it was known at the time, was withdrawn to allow for further consultations. 

In the February 23 statement, CSO ATI officials say politicians of the opposition parties have, over the years, pledged to ensure the enactment of the Information Bill “rendering them on the side of the people and CSOs.”

The faith and civil leaders, however, say the politicians tend to “procrastinate and deliberately shelve the ATI agenda with impunity” once they ascend to power. 

They cite an instance where the Patriotic Front (PF) Party raised Zambians’ expectation about a number of laws including the enactment of the ATI in September 2011 but at the end of their ten-year rule, “there was not any significant progress on the matter.”

CSO ATI officials say the United Party for National Development (UPND) has also come into power with the promise of enacting a number of laws including the ATI Bill. 

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Officials of the Coalition say the UPND has made some positive strides on the Bill, including seeking input on the ATI Draft Bill from stakeholders. 

For this reason, they say they are giving the current UPND administration “a benefit of doubt that they would deliver on the ATI law.” 

They also say they will continue to “rigorously advocate” for the enactment of the ATI Bill into law. 

In the process of enacting the Information Bill into law, the faith and civil leaders in Zambia say the UPND government “should consider widening the consultation spectrum and employ more inclusive consultative mechanisms especially at the stage of the Parliamentary Select Committee.”

They say the government should also collaborate with CSOs in coming up with practical ways to make citizens aware of the current content of the ATI Draft Bill before it is presented to the National Assembly


“Presentation to Parliament to ensure that it speaks to the purpose of the cause that citizens have for years been yearning and that anything falling short of transparency shall face stakeholder’s resistance,” CSO ATI Coalition officials say.

During the consultation process, they say, “The current ATI Draft Bill should be reviewed with gender lenses and with marginalized groups in mind for the benefit of women and girls and the youth and persons with disabilities and other groups who are often left behind to ensure that the law will be accessible and usable to them.”

In the event that the Bill is passed into law, the CSO ATI officials say, “Government working with stakeholders that include CSOs, cooperating partners among many should simplify the law and translate it into the 7 major local languages for a robust public awareness of the law.”

In the Fr. Muyebe-signed statement, the faith and civil leaders say they will not relent in the “mobilization and galvanizing of the critical mass of the citizenry, to join in demanding the government to deliver on its election promises” if the Bill is not promulgated.

Further, they say they will ensure “sustained robust advocacy to see the legislation of the ATI law in Zambia as it is demanded by the Zambian people as a prerequisite to attaining other socio-economic and civil rights.”

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Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.