Zimbabwe Considers Flawed RTI Constitutional Clause

16 November 2012

A proposed constitutional provision on right to information would be too restrictive, according to RTI experts following the process.

In particular, the latest draft would guarantee access to information held by a public body only when necessary for the exercise of other citizen rights.

Such requirement would require a requester to justify the intended use, critics fear, weakening the right access information.

The drafting of a constitution has been contentious, leaving uncertain when an expected referendum will be held.

The access provision under consideration states:

4.19    Access to information

(1) Every citizen or resident of Zimbabwe, including the Zimbabwean press and other media of communication, has the right of access to—

       (a)   any information held by all the State and institutions and agencies of government at every level, in so far as the information is required for the exercise or protection of a right or in the interests of public accountability;

       (b)   information held by any other person, in so far as the information is required for the exercise or protection of a right.

(2) Every person has a right to the correction of information, or the deletion of untrue, erroneous or misleading information, which is held by the State or any institution or agency of the government at any level, and which relates to that person.

(3)           Legislation must be enacted to give effect to this right, but may restrict access to information in the interests of defence, public security or professional confidentiality, to the extent that the restriction is fair, reasonable, necessary and justifiable in an open, just and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom.

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