Mr. John Tsebe and Mrs. Nthabiseng Kotsokoane with ZimLA NEC members who participated in the Advocacy Workshop held recently in Harare.

The Zimbabwe Library Association (ZimLA) successfully held an Advocacy and National Information Policy Formulation (NIP) Workshop at Cresta Lodge, Harare from 5 – 6 May 2016. The workshop was designed to build capacity for Librarians to enable them to effectively advocate for Access to Information for All. It was also meant to equip Librarians with skills to design, develop, implement, monitor and review a National Information Policy (NIP), either as a standalone policy or as a section in the National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Policy that is currently in its draft form.

ZimLA is grateful to the International Federation of Library Association (IFLA) who sponsored the workshop under its Building Strong Library Association (BSLA) programme and highly appreciative of the capable facilitation provided by the two experts of Mr. John Tsebe and Mrs. Nthabiseng Kotsokoane.  

The workshop brought together the leadership of the ZimLA National Executive Council (NEC) and Chairpersons of the ZimLA Provincial Branches of Manicaland, Mashonaland, Masvingo and Matebeleland Chapters. It provided a platform for exploring how ZimLA and libraries throughout the country could best contribute to the attainment of Zimbabwe’s national socio-economic development agenda, the Zim Asset through the provision of Access to Information for All. It became evidently clear that libraries and the provision of access to information for all is pivotal in the development discourse. The deliberations at the workshop amplified ZimLA’s responsibility to facilitate meaningful dialogue with stakeholders such as Decision and Policy Makers as ZimLA seeks to consolidate the position of libraries and provision of Information for development.

Public libraries ability to strengthen the role of libraries in the development agenda was scrutinized with the view of promoting access to information for all. It was noted that the public libraries have the capacity to strengthen the role of libraries in national development and therefore innovative strategies should be developed that will bring out this importance. An example of an initiative given during the workshop was that public libraries should actively gather and distribute copies of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-ASSET). Public Libraries should also hold workshops and discussion fora where eminent policy-makers are invited to articulate Zim-Asset to communities. Translations of the Zim-Asset documents could be organised with Public Library involvement for distribution in vernacular languages.

During the workshop, participants got an opportunity to understand the information policy formulation and promulgation processes with a view to actively participate in the ongoing review of the current draft National ICT policy. From the ensuing deliberations participants observed that the aspect of information and libraries was not covered in the ICT policy and therefore advocacy initiatives are required to lobby the Draft committee to include the aspect on Access to Information for All. Thus it was incumbent upon ZimLA to advocate for the inclusion of libraries and access to information for all first with this Ministry as well as with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and other relevant Ministries.

At the conclusion of the workshop, a Working Group was enacted to finalise on the Advocacy Action Plan and the framework of the National Information Policy that were formulated. The Work Group, led by ZimLA President Mr. Lantern Fusire, includes the Acting Director of the National Library and Documentation Services (NLDS), Mrs. Tesah Stimah, ZimLA Advocacy Officer Mr. J L Maenzanise, ZimLA Secretary General Mrs. H Ncube and the ZimLA Editor Mr. K Mangemba.

SOURCE: Zimbabwe Library Association