A social justice academic has cautioned the government not to delay the operationalization of Namibia's new Access to Information Act, which promises to promote transparency, accountability and good governance.

Namibia's long-awaited Access to Information Act was promulgated and published in the Government Gazette in December last year. 

The law provides the right of access to information to both public and private entities. 

However, the provisions of this statute are yet to be operationalized.

An information commissioner is yet to be appointed to promote, monitor and protect this right of access to information.

The Social Justice Academic, John Nakuta said in human rights they say access to information is the oxygen of democracy, and access to information is an enabling right, with this peace of legislature they are really putting into effect, actualizing and operationalizing the right to access to information. Nakuta said rights are not there to be preserved but they are there to be exercised, he said it is no use having a good constitution and legislature that guarantees all these rights but there are no avenues.

Nakuta and the Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Technology, Emma Theofelus explained the intricacies of the Act - both adamant that access to information is a fundamental human right. 

The ICT Deputy Minister said there is a system in place that allows them to get the information and if there are grievances, there is someone who can adjudicate those grievances and processes in which someone can make a determination on access to information by citizens, the ministry is working on the regulations in order to operationalize the Act.

The fundamentals of the Act include a provision for information holders to be subject to the authority of the information commissioner, in all matters relating to access to information.

Public and private entities could face court action when they refuse to provide information, according to the new Access to Information Act.

In terms of the Act, a person who commits an offense is liable on conviction, to a fine not exceeding 100 thousand dollars, imprisonment, for a period not exceeding five years, or both.


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Daniel Nadunya