Govt keen on promoting transparency
Harare (New Ziana) – The Zimbabwe government is keen on maintaining cordial relations with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and will continue engaging them through various platforms as part of efforts to enhance transparency and accountability in its work, a senior official has said.
Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Nick Mangwana said the government would continue availing its various plans and programmes to public scrutiny.
“Government is accountable to the citizenry institutionally through Parliament. That said, we are not averse to conversing with any other citizen or any other stakeholder on any platform because we are a very transparent government,” he said.
“We are actually much more accountable, I do not know of any other government which after Cabinet has met, will come out and give a synopsis of discussions that took place there.”
Mangwana said this during a panel discussion over a campaign by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) dubbed #HowFar?
According to ZIMCODD, the #HowFar campaign is meant to seek progress reports from the government over the implementation of several “mega deals” it has signed with various investors over the years.
But observers have pointed out that the campaign was another attempt by the perennially hostile civil society to portray the government in bad light, despite glaring evidence of the improved state of affairs.
For example, two of the biggest deals signed with China- the Hwange Power Station and the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport expansion projects- are taking shape, while several other infrastructure projects such as the widening and rehabilitation of the Beitbridge –Harare highway are also on course.
Mangwana cited the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act as part of the government’s efforts to promote engagements and accountability.
“There is information that we ordinarily proactively disclose, but anybody who wants further beyond what has proactively been disclosed then they will have to ask for that information. We were not forced by anybody to have the Freedom of Information Act, it was something that we said we want to obligate the citizenry to be able to ask any question and we will answer.”
He also dismissed accusations that the government was trying to silence CSOs by introducing stringent registration requirements.
“It is a fallacy, I would not be here, I would not be engaging with them, I would not be responding to them because once we believe that these people are hostile forces and we have nothing to say to them I would not be talking to them. There is no antipathy from the government towards CSOs,” he said.
“We are transparent, we try by all means. Which is why we are here. I would not be engaging them because I have an office to run but I am here because we want to be as transparent as possible, we want the citizens and civil society to ask the questions and we respond, but let them be fair, if we did not want to enhance our transparency we would not be engaging.”