Uganda Christian University Professor, Monica Chibita has described Uganda’s state of access to information as pitiable.
While addressing the journalism and communication fraternity that gathered on 27thSeptember at hotel Africana to commemorate the International Day for Universal Access to Information, Chibita expressed dissatisfaction with the Ugandan laws that concern access to information.
“We have national, regional and international laws on access to information which should be respected. The enactment of other laws to counter the right to information is immoral,” Chibita said in her key note address.
She noted that if the media have access to information and in turn citizens have access to the media, this can generate momentum needed to change undesired conditions.
Chibita said that although Uganda is one of the countries that have an access to information law, it is at the same time among the countries which have continued to deny the citizens the right to access information.
Chibita identified the Official Secrets Act, Public Order Management Act 2013, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation Act as some of the laws that contain provisions that deny Ugandans access to information.
She advised the government to look at access to information as a mechanism aimed at bringing transformation and development to the society. She blamed the increasing corruption cases in the country to denying citizens the right to access public information, which causes lack of transparency and accountability among bearers of public offices.
Chibita, whose keynote address was titled “Access to information for good governance,” argued that, Uganda cannot attain good governance before putting in place features of good governance in practice. She said that, good governance goes hand in hand with citizenry participation, rule of law, and accountability.
“Access to information is important for political performance for both government and the opposition. It is important for internal governance, it is important for electoral processes, it is important for public accountability. Because of this, it is also important for the fight against corruption, it is important for human rights and also environmental accountability,” Chibita said.
While discussing the key note address, Mr. Gilbert Sendugwa the Executive Director of Africa Freedom of Information Centre defined what constitutes good governance and how access to information is a key principle in achieving good governance.
“Good governance is about how public affairs are conducted. The public should have information on how public affairs are conducted to foster participatory development debate.” Sendugwa said. (By Nelson Bahati)