Ensuring that RTI Bill is passed into law

“THE real Swaraj [self-rule/self-government] will come not by the acquisition of the authority by a few, but by the acquisition of capacity by all to resist authority when abused.”  When Mahatma Gandi said this, perhaps he never imagined that India will one day make a law to empower her people for something as basic as seeking information about the development of the country.

 

TODAY, India proudly boasts of a Right To Information (RTI) Act, which was passed on October 12, 2005.   Indeed, that day marked a new era of empowerment for the common man in India.

 

WE can do same here in Ghana by passing the RTI Bill which has been in and out of Parliament for over two decades.  And though the Akufo-Addo administration showed some bold steps towards ensuring that the bill eventually becomes a law, it is now becoming clear that the government is also stalling for time for reasons best known to them.

 

THEREFORE, it is not surprising that various civil society groups and some political parties like the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) have waded into the matter, impressing upon the powers-that-be to pass the RTI bill.  The question, Today would want to ask is: what are those in power afraid of if the RTI bill is passed into law?

 

THE latest we have heard on the matter in the wake of numerous assurances is the Parliamentary Affairs Minister and Majority Leader, Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, stating that Parliament would pass the bill before the end of the session on Saturday, December 22, 2018.

 

THOUGH, this sounds refreshing, we do not want to draw any conclusion(s), but would prefer to wait for that day.  And we expect that Parliament would this time around do justice to the bill when the day comes.

 

 

WHY the RTI bill has not been passed for over two decades is something that those of us on Today continuously find it difficult to comprehend, more especially when majority of Ghanaians agree that corruption is a major stumbling block to our development course and needs to be tackled with all the tools available.

 

IN fact, one such potent tool towards fighting corruption is the RTI Act.  This is an Act, which will allow Ghanaians to examine every government decision, to study the reasons recorded by the government for taking a particular step, and to utilise information so gathered to ensure that government acts in a transparent and just manner.

 

IN effect the passage of the bill will enable citizens of this country to become better informed on actions of our governments, and to also contain corruption and hold governments accountable to the governed.  Thus we will be proactive citizens and not mere spectators.

 

WE, therefore, want to use this medium to commend the RTI Action Campaign Group, comprising the RTI Coalition, the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD)-Ghana, the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), the Ghana Anti-Corruption Campaign (GACC), SEND Ghana and a host of other advocates for bringing pressure to bear on the government.

 

IN a nutshell, the RTI bill when passed into law, will become a strong tool to uphold the spirit of democracy.  The need of the hour therefore, is for Parliament to pass the bill to ensure that the objects of the RTI Act are fulfilled.

 

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