Access to information legislation almost done - Tweya

Information and Communication Technology (MICT) Minister Tjekero Tweya has confi rmed that the Access to Information legislation will at long last be out before the end of the 2017/2018 fi nancial year, The Villager can inform.

The bill which the Minister had earlier on said still needed time for review and consultations will be out together with the Social Media Use Policy, Communication Plan and reviewed the National Information Policy, Tweya has said.

“I would like to assure the public that these draft pieces of legislation will see the light of the day before the end of 2017/18 Financial Year,” he said. Tweya who last year landed in hot soup with the media and the president over his utterances that suggested muzzling the media however confi rmed his commitment to see the public taking center stage on decision making in knowledge based economy.

“All these pieces of legislation are aimed at encouraging the public to take part in decision making processes and to hold government accountable where and when they feel dissatisfi ed with the provision of Government services and also to tell Government were we are good,” said the Minister. This comes as The Villager reported on Tweya cautioning media players against rushing government to pass the bill into law saying that it deserved to pass every democratic avenue fi rst before seeing the light of the day.

The highly anticipated bill will be a major building block to Namibia’s pioneering democracy and will build on the positive reputation the country has built in Africa and the world at large as a pioneering free-press society An open data society that guarantees the right to seek and impart information is further envisioned in the president’s fl agship economic blueprint that champions effective governance and service delivery. The drafting process of the bill commenced in the last fi nancial year and was presented to stakeholders for input in June of 2016 while the consultations were reported to have taken a week.

The consultations on the working document were done and facilitated by United Nations Educational Scientifi c and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), The Action Coalition, Media Institute of Southern Africa Namibia (MISA), Legal Assistance Centre, Editors’ Forum, Namibia Media Trust and all NGOS and Civic Society Organisation.

Although welcoming the bill and appreciating the processes it has gone through so far, experts caution that the process of accessing information should not be marred by bureaucratic delays within government offi ces. Tweya has also confi rmed to the public that the ministry’s website was now up and running and people could easily log on to access relevant information such as Government contact details, policy documents, Cabinet releases, press releases and speeches.

Meanwhile Tweya has said his ministry will also continue with the consolidation and sharing of network infrastructure. This is in the main inclusive of network towers between the service providers in areas where there is duplication while moving some of these resources to areas where there is not in order to do more with less and avoid duplication of services, he said.

Commenting on the state of Namibia’s ICT industry which has been heavily criticized by pundits as the “forgotten industry of Namibia, Tweya admitted that is has grown albeit by leaps and bounce. “Our ICT industry has grown in leaps and bounds during the past few years, and as a country we are rated in the ITU’s Measuring Information Society Report 2016 as one of the most dynamic countries in Africa,” he said.