By BRIDGET MABANDA
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has awarded Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) the coveted Golden Key Award for being the most open public institution in Zimbabwe based on their 2023 transparency assessment report.
Speaking after receiving the award today, ZINWA stakeholders relations officer Tsungirirai Shoriwa said it was a great honor to receive such a prestigious award.
“As ZINWA we are happy to have received the Golden Key Award. Last year October, MISA invited us to a workshop where they explained the Freedom of Information Act, (FOIA) and from that time, we worked on the drafting of our information disclosure policy which is now in place and approved by our board and after that we appointed the national information officer and we also designated our provincial heads and catchment managers to be the regional officers for the purposes of receiving and transmitting enquiries from their areas to the head office,” said Shoriwa.
He however said the challenge that they have noticed is the lack of awareness on the citizens because they continue to send requests for information in the wrong format.
MISA said out of the ten (10) institutions assessed, ZINWA was the only institution that has a website that is up and running with regular updates and has vibrant social media platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as well.
In the report, MISA said ZINWA’s website is basic and easy to navigate and the dam levels tab is updated on the go.
“However, the about section, drop down projects tab does not have information on the projects the National Water Authority is currently undertaking, instead there are pictures with no captions.
“The portal also has the water connection application form and the online client feedback form which can also be used as the complaint form or request form,” reads the report.
MISA assessed 10 public institutions which are, the Judicial Services Commission, Kusile Rural District Council, Lupane Local Board, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Ministry of Women Affairs, Community Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Mutare City Council, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, Zimbabwe National Water Authority and Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank.
Mutare City Council came second in the assessment.
The assessment report concluded that despite the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), most public institutions scored poorly, with the average score at 13 and this reflects an unawareness of the law’s provisions or a reluctance to comply.
The report recommended that there is a need to escalate training and awareness programmes to familiarise both citizens and public institutions with the FOIA as this will reduce litigation against non-complying public institutions both as a way of raising awareness about the law as well as forcing accountability.
However, the most secretive public institutions under MISA review was the Lupane Local Board and received the Golden Padlock award.
The award ceremony was held as part of the International Day of Access to Information celebrations by MISA at a local hotel.
MISA regional chairman, Golden Maunganidze handed over the award to Shoriwa at the ceremony held today (28/09/23) in the capital.