ZELA’ Statement on the Repeal of Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Introduction of Access to Information Bill.

Issue Date: 14 February 2019

On the 12th of February 2019 the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mrs. Monica Mutsvangwa made a pronouncement that cabinet has approved the repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). In the same statement, she revealed that the Government is working on three Bills amongst them an Access to Information Law to succeed AIPPA.

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) welcomes this development and the Government’s public commitment to formulate a reformed access to information law. As an organization that seeks to promote good environmental and natural resources governance and access to information, ZELA believes that information regarding and incidental to energy, infrastructure and natural resources contracts must be publicly disclosed and published to enable interested communities and citizens to access information on energy, infrastructure and natural resources contracts and how such projects are contributing to community development and the nation as a whole. More importantly, information on possible or actual negative impacts on the environment and human rights of such projects must be voluntarily disclosed by Government and corporates. Thus, access to information enables citizens to participate in the implementation of development programmes and plans as envisaged by Section 13 (2) of the Constitution and Section 4 (1) (b) of the Environmental Management Act.

Under AIPPA, the provisions for access to information are general and require citizens to make a formal request for disclosure of any manner of records held by the Government or Government departments. The requirement to formally request access to certain contract information held by public officials or entities means that disclosure is reactive. This is an impediment to contract transparency. Non-disclosure of information on contracts and mega-deals fuels corruption and mismanagement of public resources.

Further, the manner in which information disclosed by the government can be accessed under AIPPA is a barrier to freedom of information relating to mining contracts. AIPPA provides that the citizen seeking the disclosure of the information can access physical records and take notes and is not allowed to make copies.

Therefore, the ZELA urges the Government to consider the principles of contract and revenue disclosure to promote transparency and accountability as envisaged in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (EITI) when crafting the proposed Access to Information Bill. This is key in light of the positive promise made by the Ministry of Finance in the 2019 National Budget statement where he mentioned that Zimbabwe will seek to join the EITI.

The proposed bill must ensure:

That the manner in which mining related information is disclosed is clearly distinguished from other types of general public information;

That the relevant Ministry, government agency, government body, parastatal and state-owned corporation proactively (NOT upon request) make a public disclosure of contracts, mining licences and permits, environmental impact assessment reports, production date, and information of collected revenues and taxes generated;

That the disclosed information is user friendly and easily accessed by any member of the public e.g on a website or server;

That private corporations entering into contracts with the government have a mandatory obligation to publish the specific amount of taxes they paid to the government annually.


“Environmental justice through sustainable and equitable utilization of natural resources and environmental protection”

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