Developed by Twewaza Uganda and Africa Freedom of Information Centre-AFIC in partnership with the Minister for ICT and National Guidance, the Civil Servants guide aims at unlocking the challenges to access to information for all Ugandans to promote inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, and good governance.
The government has unveiled a new Access to Information Guide to enable civil servants to meet their legal obligations of providing
information to the public and interested parties as required by law.
The Civil Servants Guide, developed
by Twaweza Uganda and Africa Freedom of Information Centre-AFIC in
partnership with the
Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, aims to unlock the challenges to access to information for all Ugandans to
promote inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, and good governance.
the launch which took place in Kamuli District, the State Minister for National Guidance, Godfrey Kabyanga,
noted that although the government is implementing a lot of programmes, very
few people know about them because public officers withhold information, leaving room for speculation.
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was one of the first countries to enact the Access to Information Act in 2005 and later set regulations in 2011. However, the
implementation of the same has had challenges.
Violet Alinda, the Twaweza-Uganda Country Lead and Director of Voice and Participation,
notes that with the legal regime in place, several other steps have been taken
to guarantee access to information in Uganda. The measures include the establishment of the ICT ministry, opening up different
platforms of information disclosure including information request forms,
public notices boards, and newsletters among others. However, she adds, all this has
failed to yield results.
conducted in the previous years have proven that although people are
requesting information, the majority are unsuccessful. This signals to a
missing link " said Alinda quoting a 2019 report by the Africa
Freedom of Information Centre that found out that only nine per cent of the 4,059 known
information requests, were partially
successful while over 81 per cent of requests had not received a reply after
the office 21-day time limit.
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Nanyanzi, the senior programmes officer at Twaweza, says that through the
Sauti za Wananchi initiative, they collected new data on citizens’
experiences and perspectives on access to information from 1,500
respondents between October and December 2020 which further indicated
that a limited number of citizens could get access to information.
out of 10 citizens sought information from at least one public
institution in the previous three months. However, seven out of 10 of
them noted that it was not easy to access information, especially, on
critical matters including budgets, by-laws, and development projects in
their area," Nanyazi noted.
Nanyanzi added that whereas civil
servants agree that in principle, citizens have a right to access
government-held information, many reported that they have not been given
training or guidance on access to information with some of them not
aware that they are legally required to release information.
facts, the act has thus far had minimal impact on civil servants'
process of disclosing information and in the end affecting the citizens who
don't get the needed information," she added.
Clausen, the Senior Programme Officer of the Africa Freedom of information Centre,
notes that with the civil servants' guide out, public officers will understand
how they can handle information requests from the citizens, and in the end,
the latter will understand how government programs are implemented in
their districts and on the national level.
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Minister Kabyanga added that with the guide to access to the
information given out to public servants, the government has embarked on
formulating a communication policy and strategy to streamline access to
information among public officers and then the residents.
however, urged public servants to maintain an open-door policy to
receive information requests and reply to them in time as one of the
means of creating a direct link with the public and proactively
disseminating information through available channels to deny interested
parties room for speculating on what the government is doing.
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Kamuli LCV chairperson Maxwell
Charles Mugude, also noted that access to
information is a big catalyst to development asking the government to
always offer refreshers courses to public officers on information
access, dissemination and handling.