Information -catalyst for Covid-19 response in rural areas

By Locadia Mavhudzi

 Rural women in Chiwundura have welcomed the Freedom of Information Act as a measure of empowerment for rural communities considering the Covid-19 knowledge gap existing between urban and rural communities.

Gambiza ward village head and member of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe Agnes Mpansi hailed the newly unveiled Freedom of Information Act saying women should use the law to access critical information that saves lives.

“The law has come at an opportune time when we are yearning to be equipped with Covid-19 information. There is need for awareness-raising especially in the benefits of the vaccine and the preventive measures put in place by the government. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions circulating in this part of the nation, that could derail government efforts to manage the pandemic”

“The law must be coupled with a door to door campaign starting with community and church leaders and overflowing to households and individuals.”

She said the new law must also be implemented through the availing of information concerning local development by the rural authorities.

The Freedom of Information Act repealed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), legislation that had been viewed as draconian and a hindrance to access to information.

The new legislation provides citizens and media practitioners with the right to access information and also creates legal frameworks and mechanisms for accessing information from public and private bodies.

Section 62(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for access to information held by State institutions when the information is required in the interests of public accountability whereas Section 62(2) provides for access to information held by any person, including the State, where that information is necessary for the exercise or protection of a right.

Women and girls’ rights organization, Tag a Life International (TaLI), recently launched the My Freedom of Information campaign to raise awareness on the Freedom of Information Act for vulnerable groups and journalists.

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