Tuesday, April 17, 2012
By Cynthia Phiri in Kalomo
Mon 16 Apr. 2012, 13:26 CAT
THE Tonga-speaking people of Kalomo district in Southern Province have passed a six-point resolution on access to information and appealed to their members of parliament to vote in favour of the Freedom of Information bill once taken to parliament.
Reading out resolutions during the first-ever Coalition on Access to Information public forum at chief Chikanta's palace on Saturday, Ngambela (prime minister) Josiah Muzyamba said there was need to establish community radio stations in rural areas to help ease problems of access to information.
The forum organised by the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection, Press Freedom Committee of The Post, MISA-Zambia and the Zambia Civic Education Association also agreed that the government should strengthen the Zambia National Broadcasting Cooperation (ZNBC) signal for both radio and television which was nonexistent at the moment in the area.
The forum also agreed that all custodians of public information should get down to chiefdom level to disseminate information.
And chief Chikanta said members of parliament should accept and approve the Freedom of Information bill with a lot of input from the rural communities.
He said the introduction of television stations in provincial centres was good effort being made by the government and that it was long overdue.
"It is important to have television stations in all the provincial centers and is a welcome move but they should be structured in a way that it carters to the rural communities," said chief Chikanta.
And Press Freedom Committee of The Post chairperson Leah Kabamba said once enacted, the FOI bill would not be for journalists only but will work for all Zambians.
"We have realised that there was actually a lacuna on what people know on the Freedom of Information bill and the good place to start was to make sure that the people of Zambia understand this Freedom of Information bill. If enacted, it's something that will work for everybody in the country and not just the journalists alone," said Kabamba.
And representing the coalition, Kafupi Banda said the forum was meant to raise awareness among the rural communities on the Freedom of Information bill.