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MICT consults Hardap on Information Bill

2021-10-08  Staff Reporter

MICT consults Hardap on Information Bill
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Lorato Khobetsi

 

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology has started with the second round of regional consultative meetings to engage relevant stakeholders on the Access to Information Bill.

The awareness creation exercise for the Hardap region kicked off in Mariental earlier this week and aims at engaging the focus groups by gathering their input and discussing insights on the Bill in its current form.

Speaking at the event, the Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Emma Theofelus said the Access to Information Bill is critical as it enables citizens to compel government and organisations to heed their secondary right of access to information. She said the Bill, when passed, will enable citizens to effectively monitor and hold the government to account and enter into informed dialogue about decisions, which affect their lives.

“It is only fair that the public know exactly what the Access to Information Bill is, how they can use it to empower their lives, but more importantly, how they can use their rights enforced by the Bill to get the information to empower themselves as citizens once the Bill is passed,” she said. 

Theofelus, further emphasised that the Bill, among many requirements, also makes provision for an information commissioner and the deputy information commissioner to be appointed as they will guide public institutions on how to effectively and efficiently give information to the public. 

“Information sometimes can be tricky in the way it’s communicated, the way it’s received and the way it’s used and that’s why this Bill is quite important in putting parameters in place so that government institutions and leaders have an effective way to give you information to make important decisions in your lives,” she said.

The event comprised of comprehensive presentations to create awareness and understanding of some sections on the Bill, which is contributing to the slow handling of the Bill. The deputy minister also hosted a pop up at the Shoprite complex to engage members of the public and share information about the soon to be tabled Bill. 

Hardap governor, Salomon April encouraged the community to understand that the Bill will give them the right to know the information which they need to know from government institutions and the private sector in order to use such to boost their knowledge and improve their lives. 

The law aims at promoting transparency, accountability and effective governance of all public and private institutions by establishing procedures that will enable requesters of information to obtain records held by state institutions and by private bodies as speedily and timeously as possible. 

When passed, the Bill will ensure that the members of the public are empowered and educated to understand their right to access to relevant information, the functions and operations of public bodies to be able to effectively scrutinise and participate in the decision-making by such institutions that affect their rights.

Introducing the Access to Information Bill will ensure that the government adapts the requirements of international and regional bodies that ensure access to information for all as a fundamental human right. 

The Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Peya Mushelenga tabled the Access to Information Bill in parliament last month.


2021-10-08  Staff Reporter

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