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Zim marks International Day for Universal Access to Information

Zim marks International Day for Universal Access to Information

Story by Oleen Ndori

THE government has made significant strides in terms of media reforms to close the information gap through the use of digital technology.

This emerged during commemorations to mark the International Day for Universal Access to Information this Thursday, with the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Dr Jenfan Muswere, highlighting critical reforms that the government has made in the media sector to promote access to information in the digital era.

“Since the inception of the Second Republic in 2018, several legal reforms have been instituted such as the repealing of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) which stifled access and free flow of information. The scrapping of AIPPA saw the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act and the Zimbabwe Media Commission Act. These Acts have since been aligned to the Constitution.

“As we celebrate the day under the theme, ‘The importance of the online space for access to information,’ it is important for us to embrace rapid transformations that are happening in the communication industry necessitated by the advancement in digital technology,” he said.

He also spoke on progress made in the licensing of new players in the media sector, in line with Vision 2030.

He also added, “Notably, mainstream media is now going digital, allowing citizens to wield selection choice on who to listen to or watch and at what time. The Second Republic is making strides in addressing the issue of high data prices and internet connectivity through various engagements. The government has committed to improving connectivity in remote parts of the country as we leave no one and no place behind. Let us remember that we now have at least 14 community radio stations and six operational Campus radio stations in Zimbabwe that have been brought about by advancement in digital technology.”

“These community radio stations have empowered citizens as they have access to vital information. Some citizens have received training in digital broadcasting thus capacitating the communities they operate from. More is being done to ensure that these stations remain operational, and our doors remain open to engagement with critical stakeholders in developing a sustainable strategy for them,” he said.

Other stakeholders concurred that access to information plays an important role in enhancing national dialogue in relation to inclusive development.

The International Day for Universal Access to Information coincided with the launch of the MISA Zimbabwe Transparency Report.

It was launched alongside the report on the Continuing and Emerging Issues for Data Protection Authorities in SADC which notes that in most countries, data protection authorities are faced with operational challenges including technical, financial and enforcement capabilities.

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