The Namibian National Assembly has passed an Access to Information bill almost two years after it was presented to the legislature. The bill will now progress to the National Council before it is sent to the president to sign it into law.
The Access to Information Bill seeks to promote access to information held by public bodies. Private companies will also be compelled to make information public when requested if the bill sails through as is now expected.
The bill advocates for the proactive disclosure and publication of certain information held by public institutions.
Namibia is presently the second ranked country on the World Press Freedom Index compiled by the Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
If the bill is passed, this will enhance Namibia as a beacon of freedom of expression and democracy, not only just in Southern Africa and Africa, but also across the world.
Hopefully, this will set an example for other countries such as Botswana and Zambia to follow suit in enacting access to information laws.
Access to information is an enabling right from which other constitutional rights can be enjoyed as it facilitates informed decision-making. The significance of this progressive step is that Namibia is home to the Windhoek Declaration on Independent and Plural Media (1991) and its success declaration Windhoek +30 which has been adopted by the United Nations through the Information as a public good theme.
Source: MISA Zimbabwe