JUSTICE Minister Mulambo Haimbe says Zambians should expect more progress on the enactment of the Access to Information Bill once the media resolves the issue of self-regulation.
Speaking when he featured on Hot FM’s breakfast show, Wednesday, Haimbe said the Access to Information Bill comes with responsibility intended to be managed through the Media self -regulatory process.
“In the last week, stakeholders met with the Ministry of Information and Media. The Access to Information Bill, it gives a lot of freedom for not only the media but also the general public in terms of access to information. In building into that, it comes with responsibility intended to be managed through a self-regulatory process with regard to the media. I know for a fact that as media houses, people in charge of the media are looking at various nitty gritty that go with self-regulation. The two-go hand in hand. So, once we have this issue of self-regulation resolved by the media houses themselves, then we expect to see a lot more progress on some of the aspects of the enactment of the ATI. So perhaps we have to look at it as a shared responsibility rather than a responsibility of government alone,’ he said.
“All pieces of legislation are living documents. You can’t say that the consultative process that was undertaken two, three, four years ago, five months ago, you can’t say it is aligned with the aspirations of the people today. The environment in which we were living in for the last few years, people’s minds, priorities are different. People understand what they can and can’t do in the current dispensation. So, you can’t compare work that was done in a different era and say we will just copy and paste it. That would be irresponsible of us as people who are there to promulgate laws that are in keeping with the aspirations of the people. That consultation had to be done”.
Haimbe said the UPND government’s approach towards the constitutional amendment process is more democratic than previous administrations.
“An announcement was made by the Zambia Law Development Commission to the effect that they completed the layman’s draft as signed by the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Public Order Act. So, we are making significant progress on that. This whole process in the last few months, we’ve been undertaking a review of the Public Order Act to ensure that it is responsive to the needs of the people of Zambia and aligned to the vision of the new dawn government. Those that had public office prior to us have said ‘we’ve done a lot of work in the Public Order Act space, why should we reinvent the wheel?” Haimbe said.
“We have different approaches to how we want to govern the country. We feel our approach is more democratic than previous administrators. But of course, that’s our view. We have a responsibility to ensure that our vision in terms of opening up the democratic space is done in the correct way. This is why we’ve had to do this review all over again of the Public Order Act. To involve the Zambia Law Development Commission and yesterday, they said we are ready to hand over. I think it will be handed over to the Minister of Home Affairs who is responsible for the Public Order Act on Monday”.
Haimbe said consultations to amend the Public Order Act were ongoing, with some stakeholders proposing the Act to be renamed to Public Gathering Act.
“So, with regard to the death penalty and the defamation of the President, by the way, the defamation of the President was one of those pieces of legislation or provisions of the penal code that was used in a very oppressive fashion. We saw, I believe even in the new dawn government a little bit of overzealousness that beginning [began] to creep in. So we said we have to move in on these extremely quickly,’ he said.
“You need to understand that there is a big difference between repealing two sections of two Acts of Parliament and holistic review of an Act in its entirety. For the Public Order Act, the review is so intensive that there is a proposal to change the name completely from the Public Order Act to the Public Gathering Act. That shows you what is being done in terms of opening up the democratic space. So you can’t treat a holistic review of an Act of Parliament the same way you treat the repeal of two sections”.
And when asked whether the relationship between the Executive and the Judiciary was transparent, Haimbe answered in the affirmative.
“That’s a narrative being pushed by a certain sector of society. In any functioning government, you expect to see synergies being created in the various arms of government. For example, if I’m friendly with Peter, does it mean I will tell him what to say in an interview with me? It doesn’t mean when you appreciate that there are three arms of government and you need to work together for interest of the people of Zambia, that necessarily entails there will be a sinister motive to it.”