11 October 2012

Mozambican groups urge government to move forward on Freedom of Information Act

Several civil society organizations, including the Mozambican chapter of MISA (the Media Institute of Southern Africa), continue to urge Mozambique’s parliament to debate a freedom of information bill.

MISA presented the Assembly with a draft bill in November 2005.  Since then, neither the ruling Frelimo Party nor the main opposition party, Renamo, have made any effort to table the bill. There is no indication the bill will be on the agenda for the upcoming session.

According to the Mozambique News Agency, civil society groups have now sent a letter to Assembly chairperson Veroniva Macamo asserting that a freedom of information act “will allow the state to bring the voice of the people into development processes, opening the paths to ensure that all vital forces in society, and particularly vulnerable groups, have a word to say.”

Access to information, the letter continues, supports long-term sustainability for projects and programs. The current legal vacuum is becoming “a serious obstacle to the credibility of the state and to achieving the other fundamental rights and freedoms that are connected to the right to information.”

The letter expresses concern that Mozambique is becoming “ever more closed in areas that are crucial for the democratisation of the country and for the existence of a free civil society," and that the Assembly’s disinterest in the bill represents the government’s lack of transparency.