MISA-Swaziland investigated the level of openness in several Swaziland government departments in 2010 and 2011
2011: Swaziland’s Constitution (2005), within the Rights and Freedoms provisions, guarantees and protects the right to freedom of information. However, the country does not have Access to Information Legislation. This means that the Government and Public Institutions are not obligated to disclose any information they hold.
The Official Secrets Act of 1961, for example, makes it difficult for the citizens and the media to access information held by Government and Public Institutions.Furthermore, there are no formal procedures for accessing information nor are there known mechanisms in place to appeal against any Government official who, on his own, decides not to disclose information. In the absence of freedom of assembly and association, even though guaranteed in the Constitution, there is an urgent need for free flow of information because presently political formations remained banned and cannot share information with the masses.
2010: From the findings, the researchers make the following conclusions:
- As in the last survey in 2009, Swaziland Government continues to run one of the secretive government institutions in the region. Because of their secretive nature, these government ministries make it difficult for the public to access information in the hands of government.
- The secrecy extends to the public institutions such as NERCHA and the Swaziland Electricity Company.
- All government ministries and public institutions surveyed had information in their websites that is irrelevant and non-informative.
- Swaziland urgently requires Access to Information legislation to force all public institutions to remain accountable to the public and release information at the right time to all citizens of Swaziland.
In this study it was discovered that all institutions share the same characteristic of depriving the citizens of Swaziland the Right to Information. For the year 2010, the Deputy Prime Mister’s Office proved to be very strict in releasing information, even accepting written request. Before reading what was entailed inside the letter, they wanted full details of the person who delivered the letter.
Moreover, it is disturbing that the Ministry of Education has no information on the issue of Free Primary Education, nor any Act about it on their website. The government recently approved a policy on Education in Swaziland but such information is also not available.