BY BRIDGET MABANDA
HARARE: Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe Chapter chairperson, Golden Maunganidze has said internet accessibility in the country is inhibited by lack of adequate infrastructure and affordability.
Maunganidze, who is also the MISA regional chairperson said this during the commemorations of the International Day of Universal Access to Information last week in Harare.
He said access to information is a fundamental human right and is critical for both governments and the people they serve.
“This day serves as a reminder of the importance of access to information, which plays a pivotal role in transparency, accountability, the enjoyment and realisation of human rights and spur socio-economic development and prosperity,” he said.
In Zimbabwe, the right to access to information is provided by Section 62 of the Constitution and given effect by the Freedom of Information Act which lays the firm foundation on the procedures for accessing information held by public institutions.
He added that 2023 International Day of Universal Access to Information theme: The importance of the online space for access to information indicates that the online space has now become a critical medium for accessing information and knowledge and it has transformed the way citizens seek, share, and consume information.
“MISA Zimbabwe is actively considering the Starlink application to improve connectivity in Zimbabwe, especially in remote parts of the country,” he said.
Responding to the Maunganidze’s presentation, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Jenfan Muswere said government has taken a number of steps to support universal access to information.
“The development of the Freedom of Information Act as a legislative step in order to set the parameters involved in making sure that information is available to the citizens of this country is one of the steps.
“The development of the Cyber and Data Protection Act was a legislative step in order to make sure that there is safety and security in terms of access and utilization of information,” he added.
Muswere said there is growth in the media industry and therefore to achieve universal access to information, the media has got a big role to play.
He added that the new Information and Communication Technology Policy that was approved by cabinet, takes care of the use of satellite technology and there are a number of applications that are being processed by Postal and Telecommunications Revenue Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) to be able to bridge that rural-urban divide.