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Entities Must Embrace Freedom Of Information Act

The Hwange business community has lauded the Freedom of Information Act (FIA), which they say will enable them to structure their demands from investors and local institutions.

Hwange district boasts a variety of both local and international investors who are lured by the rich coalfields and tourism facilities. But the community is crying foul over lack of communication between investors and itself.

The FIA was promulgated in July 2020 to repeal the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [Chapter 10:27].

Zanu PF DCC Secretary for Hwange Business and Development and Liaison, Peterson Ncube, said the FIA was welcome as information is power.

“Correct information must be in the public domain for communities to be conscious of events and issues surrounding them.

“The freedom of Information Act is vital when it comes to developing and empowering a community. Hwange has institutions and local authorities operating in it but most of the information vital to the community and from the institutions is not in the public domain,” he said.

He said members of the Hwange community need to be fully informed of economic issues pertaining to the coal fields.

“The community needs to know the economic impact the coal fields have in the district but all that information is not known by the community yet they are the custodians of these natural resources,” Ncube said.

He said there is need to institutionalise the Act in order for the entities to know that they are obliged to disseminate such vital information.

Meanwhile, Ncube noted that most opinion leaders deliberately mislead the community with wrong information using social media, and the Act will play a pivotal role as a rectifier and empower the public to request correct information.

He further appealed to the corporate world to adopt the FIA as it breeds transparency.

“Whenever information is requested let’s learn to give out correct information as there is no need to hide it. Let us all empower our communities through giving them correct information,” he said.

The FIA provides for the constitutional rights of expression, and freedom of the media; the right of access to information held by entities in the interest of public accountability or for the exercise or protection of a right.

It also promotes transparency, accountability and effective governance by taking any steps necessary to educate or inform the public.

Part 3 of the Act allows any person who wishes to request access to information from any public entity, public commercial entity or the holder of a statutory office.

In accordance to the rights granted under FIA, one may apply in writing to an information officer of the public entity, public commercial entity or holder of a statutory office concerned.

Upon receiving a request, an information officer must immediately provide written acknowledgement of the request to the applicant.

If the information can be provided immediately a response that is to the satisfaction of the applicant, must be provided. Nhau/Indaba

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