THE Freedom of Information Act has been described as a positive step towards accountability and transparency of public bodies as it increases the citizen’s role of oversight.
A Non-governmental organisation Tag-A-Life International (TaLI) recently launched the My Freedom of Information campaign which seeks to educate women and girls on their constitutional rights to information as stipulated in the Freedom of Information Act.
The new law came into force in July 2020 and it repealed the oppressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). It now gives citizens and media practitioners rights to access to information from public bodies.
In an interview, Emthonjeni Women’s Forum Programs Manager Melissa Ndlovu said the act was a step in the right direction as it will improve accountability and transparency.
“The act allows for accountability and transparency noting that groups and individuals can now write to service providers and local authorities and request for information,” said Ndlovu.
“They can now follow up on how the budgets are made, what kind of processes they use towards tendering and basic information pertaining to service delivery.”
Ndlovu said this act was a positive step towards accountability and transparency.
“To a larger extent, it allows citizens to play an oversight role on how they are governed. It also helps local authorities provide services even in hospitals and we can now request for information in terms of mortality.”
“We can also request information in terms of how much amount hospitals are receiving and how they are utilising those funds. This is progress towards ensuring accountability, transparency and strengthening the role of citizens in excessing an oversight role.”
Ndlovu said there was a misconception of women failing to have access to documents.
“The issue of women always finding it difficult to get documentation is a misconception. We are in an era where women are aware that they can access documents but unfortunately there is patriarchy and culture and other factors that hinder women,” said Ndlovu.
“It is not that women do not have information. The biggest fear is that women taking birth certificates for children on their own without the husband’s name on the birth certificate, is more of a culture issue than it is towards accessing information.”
TaLI Founder Nyaradzo Mashayamombe said the progressive laws such as these enable women, girls, youths and all vulnerable groups to participate in democracy, human rights and accountability due to monitoring of public resources