Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) will not back down following the rejection of the Freedom of Information Bill but, instead, say their campaign will go on, revealed Phenyo Butale, the National Director for MISA Botswana.
The Freedom of Information Bill received fierce opposition from the majority of the Members of Parliament. The bill that was shot down had been described as a progressive piece of legislation, which was geared towards giving Batswana the right to access information.?Butale said the taskforce is currently working on improving the draft.
“We will be sending our draft to international organizations for suggestions that is Article 19, Freedom House to identify any loopholes and assist us,” he said.
He added that by the time the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Mokgweetsi Masisi, comes up with his draft they will be able to compare with their own draft.
“We are ready to accept Masisi’s bill only if it is in line with international trends,” said Butale. “Our intention is to have the bill; if the minister’s draft does not tally with international trends we will not take it, we will go ahead and retable our own draft for July parliament next year.”
Butale said they have planned to have an international conference end of year that will draw experts from all over the world.
“We are optimistic that this will assist us as well as government to see information trends internationally,” he said.
Butale declared that CSOs will not back down; the campaign will go on until Batswana are sensitized, adding that Botswana should become a leading democracy that empowers its citizenry.
“We are a minimalist democracy because there are no legal instruments in place to empower citizenry,” he said again adding that if relevant laws are in place government will be accountable to its citizenry.
The CSOs that are spearheading this campaign include the Law Society of Botswana, MISA Botswana Chapter, Press Council of Botswana, Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union, Botswana Public Employees Union, Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions, Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS, Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organizations, Botswana Land Boards and Local Authorities Health Workers Union.