surveyed in terms of information response. The average
response rate was 14 for Mozambique and 16 for
Tanzania. In contrast Namibia had a very good response
rate at 25 points on average with the lowest performing
organisation at 13 points and the highest at 34 points
out of 40 points.

This is the 11th Transparency Assessment Report of
MISA, which examines the openness and transparency
of public organisations in southern Africa. This report
was compiled in collaboration of eight MISA Chapters
and the Namibia Media Trust and ACTION Namibia

The Electoral Commissions of Zambia and Malawi
showed a great deal of transparency receiving 32 and
33 points respectively during the survey. Malawi had
its Fresh Presidential Election this year while Zambia
goes to the polls in 2021. The Botswana Qualification
Authority received the highest score of all organisations
surveyed throughout the region.

During June and August 2020, research was conducted
in nine countries, namely; Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho,
Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and
Zimbabwe. In their respective countries, national
researchers sent information requests to selected
organisations anticipating answers to their questions
within 21 days. The researchers also assessed whether
relevant information (from contact details to budgetary
information) had proactively been made available by
public bodies through an online platform.

A number of organisations have moved to the online
platforms, however, it is important that they make sure
that they update these platforms frequently. Websites
with outdated information become irrelevant. The
survey found that some websites were last updated
more than three years ago.

It is also worth mentioning that the 2020 assessment
was done in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, where
some countries, such as Botswana and Zimbabwe were
under constant lockdown. As a result of this, certain
organisations were not able to provide the information

On a positive note, the Freedom of Information Act,
which is part of the processes of repealing the widely
discredited Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA) 2002, came into effect on 1st July
2020 in Zimbabwe. In Malawi, newly elected President
Lazarus Chakwera promised to make sure that the
Access to Information Act of 2017 will be operationalised
to do away with the culture of secrecy and ensure
government accountability.

We have frequently heard politicians say that people
cannot eat democracy. This phrase is often used as
justification for failing to prioritise access to information.
And yet the link between access to information and
the global goal to reduce poverty seems abundantly
clear. People need access to information in order to
empower themselves to have choices and control over
the decisions that affect their lives.

MISA Chapters in Eswatini, and Zambia and also the
ACTION Namibia Coalition and Namibia Media Trust
are still advocating for enactment of ATI laws in
their respective countries for increased government
openness and transparency.

Meaningful participation in democratic processes
requires a citizenry that is well-informed. And
commitment to open and transparent governance is
non-negotiable if people are to get the information
they need to hold their governments to account, build
trust, reduce corruption and be active and meaningful
participants in their own development.
This year’s assessment has shown that most public
organisations surveyed have a strong online presence.
While this is a step in the right direction to advance
public access to information, it can also be used to
silence citizens due to the lack of engagement by public
officials on these platforms.
Despite Mozambique and Tanzania being among
countries in Africa with access to information laws,
they had the lowest scores among the nine countries





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