ATI Bill: New Dawn walks the talk



IN A democratic country like Zambia, media freedom and access to information cannot be divorced from good governance.

While blatantly obvious, the enactment of an Access to Information (ATI) law has for decades eluded the country.

Despite being a song that never leaves the lips of politicians during campaign periods, the melody seems to quickly become ‘outdated’ once they are sworn into office.

The ATI Bill was first taken to Parliament by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services in 2002, under the then ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD).

It was, however, withdrawn in the same year, while at Second Reading stage. In the run up to the 2011 general elections, the main opposition political party then-Patriotic Front (PF) – pledged to present the ATI Bill in Parliament, once voted into power.

The party scooped the presidency that year from the MMD. However, by August 2021 when they were voted out after ruling for 10 years, the PF had not made good with their promise.

This promise was taken over by the ruling United Party for National Development (UPND) alias the New Dawn administration.

Theirs was not a new promise, but rather one the party had been echoing for a decade. When the UPND formed government after the 2021 general elections, there was renewed hope for the enactment of media laws in a bid to guarantee media freedom in the country.

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