Tag Archives: Freedom of Information

Access to Information bill to be fast-tracked through Tanzanian parliament

Tz map flag FOI

UPDATE, 28/3/15:

Following concerted lobbying by a coalition of media and civil society organisations, (including my employers, Twaweza), the government has dropped plans to fast-track the Access to Information and Media Services Bills. The bills may yet be presented to parliament in the current session for first reading, but the Attorney General, George Masaju, has promised that stakeholders will be given time to read and comment on the bill. 


 

Tanzania’s long-awaited Access to Information bill – promised by President Kikwete 18 months ago and included the current Open Government action plan – may be about to become a reality, though in far from ideal circumstances.

The Tanzanian government announced late last week that six bills*, including the Access to Information Bill, will be rushed through parliament over the next two weeks, under a “certificate of urgency” (hati ya dharura). This allows all three stages of the bill to be conducted in a single session: introducing the bill to the house (first reading), debate (second reading) and a vote (third reading).  Continue reading

Chart of the week #25: Government Secrecy in an Information Age

The Media Institute of Southern Africa conducts an annual exercise to review access to information from different government ministries and agencies. The latest report, Government Secrecy in an Information Age, 2014, came out a few days ago.

Within each country, eight government institutions are tested, in two ways. First, researchers look for ten different types of information on each institution’s website – the Website Review. For each bit of information that is found, two points are scored. Or one point if it is partially available. Second, they send a letter to the institution, followed up with phone calls and physical visits, requesting answers to a set of questions, and see what response they get – the Written Request for Information. The responses are then scored against ten different criteria, two points available for each.

Each institution’s score is added up, to a maximum of 40 points (20 for the website, 20 for the request for information). Those with the best and worst scores are then awarded a “Golden Key” and a “Golden Padlock” respectively. Continue reading

What have you missed since June?

If you’ve signed up to receive this blog by email (as you can do using the link on the right), then you may well have missed several posts over the past few months. I shifted to a new web-host at the beginning of June, in order to be able to show more interesting charts – particularly interactive charts like these. I tried to bring the site’s email subscribers along with me, but for some reason that I don’t understand, this didn’t happen – sorry!

Having discovered the problem earlier this week, I’ve now corrected this mistake, so you should be receiving the emails again.

And in case you missed something interesting, here are some highlights from the last three months on mtega.com. It’s been a busy few months.  Continue reading

A plan with (some) potential

Tanzania’s latest Open Government Partnership (OGP) Action Plan is now available, on the much-improved opengov.go.tz website. The plan covers the two years from July 2014 to June 2016.

The first action plan was a disappointment, with very few of the 25 commitments implemented. This time there are only five, but they are focussed and (mostly) ambitious:

1. Freedom of Information: To enact an FOI by December 2014.
2. Open Data: To establish an open data system by December 2016.
3. Budget Transparency: To make budget data (eight key budget reports), audit committee reports and tax exemptions publicly available by December 2014.
4. Land Transparency: Make land use plan, ownership and demarcated areas for large scale land deals accessible online for public use by June 2016.
5. Extractive Industries Transparency: Tanzania to fulfill its EITI commitments by June, 2015

The good points? Continue reading

Ten key features of a good Freedom of Information law for Tanzania

Late last year, President Kikwete announced that his government will pass a Freedom of Information Act:

“We are now working on enacting a freedom of information law. We are working on that one, we think by April next year, we will send to parliament this bill, and have it enacted. It is giving the common Tanzanian citizen the right to have information from government.”

“We are talking of the people, the government becoming more open, people having greater access to information, and when they ask for this information, they should not be seen as venturing into territories that are not theirs. … If people want information on how medicines are distributed, if they want information about budgets for their primary
school, then they should have the right to know this.”

Tz map flag FOIThe timetable has slipped, but the proposed bill is prominent in the new action plan for the Open
Government Partnership. And according to the Minister of Constitutional Affairs, Dr Asha-Rose Migiro, progress is being made on a draft law.

As so often, however, the devil is in the detail. Freedom of Information can be very powerful, but until we see what the new law looks like, it is impossible to know whether it will deliver on its potential, or will end up as a missed opportunity.

So, what does a good Freedom of Information law look like? Continue reading

Freedom of Information on DFID’s role in BAE Project in Tanzania? Bado

image from http://www.parentalguide.org/article-family-road-trip.html

image from http://www.parentalguide.org/article-family-road-trip.html

I submitted a Freedom of Information request with the Department for International Development (DFID) last month. I’m asking for the Memorandum of Understanding between DFID, the Government of Tanzania, the Serious Fraud Office and BAE Systems, and related budget details. (See here and here for some background).

The government legally has to respond within 20 days – the deadline is tomorrow.  Continue reading