Access to information (ATI) is the concept that information held by public or state institutions or private institutions conducting business that has implications for the public should be accessible to the public. It is also referred to as Freedom of Information (FOI) or the Right to Know (RTK). The basis for this accessibility is that all information kept in public institutions belongs to the public. Therefore, the public should be allowed to access such information.
In Zambia, the idea of Access to Information (ATI) or Freedom of Information (FOI) has been associated with journalists. The thinking is that journalists are the individuals who need information for their work. This is despite the fact that to access information is a Right, provided for in International Law, which must be enjoyed by everyone. However, due to this misconception, the fight for the ATI law has been left to journalists and this has somehow weakened the fight. However, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) such as the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), MISA-Zambia, Dialogue for Development (D4D) and others have continuously partnered in various engagement activities to enable the realization of the importance of the Access to Information and the passing of the Access to Information Bill.
The current government in Zambia, has shown commitment to enact the ATI Bill, therefore MISA Zambia in partnership with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Zambia Office organised a workshop to engage the state on the ATI Bill. MISA Zambia made a presentation on the ATI Law principles and areas of concern in the 2021 ATI Bill. This workshop had the presence of civil society organisations – CSOs, the media and policy makers from Ministry of Information and Media.