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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« on: October 19 2010 »

Posted October 6th 2010 at 8:17 am by anne

Southern Africa is home to some of the most secretive government and public institutions in the world. The continued existence of archaic colonial legislations such as Official Secrets Acts, the failure to repeal the Access to Information & Privacy Protection Act in Zimbabwe, the introduction of the Protection of Information Bill currently under Parliament in South Africa, the deletion from the Zambian Draft Constitution the right for citizens to access Government held information by the National Constitutional Review and the ultimate failure of the entire region to pass legislation guaranteeing citizens the right to information in the last ten years testifies the thriving environment in which secrecy prevails

The findings of a research conducted by MISA between June and August 2010 across nine countries reveal non-transparent and overly secretive public institutions, making it difficult for citizens to access information in their possession and under their control. These findings are not particularly different from a similar study done in 2009 in which secrecy shrouded the operations, budgets and activities of governments in southern Africa.

Lesotho by far hosts the most secretive Government in Southern Africa followed by Swaziland.

None of the 13 institutions surveyed in Lesotho and Swaziland responded to written requests for information. While other governments have embraced the use of information communication technology to provide information to citizens, this cannot be said of Lesotho were half of the institutions surveyed had no websites. This effectively means that citizens cannot access information electronically or physically from among others, the Ministry of Home Affairs which neither has a website nor responds to written requests.

The findings of this study which sought to measure the level of openness and secrecy in Government institutions in the region is testimony that unless the legislative landscape changes, this indeed is a dark continent and will continue to be so. For as long as secrecy and anti access to information laws exist in statutory books, Government secrecy will remain unchallenged and unchecked for many years to come in Southern Africa.

more: http://windhoekplus20.org/2010/10/anne/#more-521
2010 Southern Africa RTI Report
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