Tag Archives: OGP

Yesterday was Access to Information Day 2017. Meanwhile, in Tanzania …

Mwananchi, 29/9/17

As we marked Access to Information Day, 2017 …

… the communications regulator – TCRA – held a consultation on proposed new online content regulations. Among other things, the regulations would require all bloggers and online forums to register with TCRA, to identify any readers or users who post comments or other content, and to pre-moderate all user-submitted content. The implications for blogs and other platforms for public debate and whistle-blowing, including the hugely popular Jamii Forums, would be devastating. Continue reading

Highlights of Remarks of Twaweza Executive Director, Aidan Eyakuze, at #OGPAfrica opening session

“The OGP is not a perfect movement or process, and it is not without its critics. For some it is a smokescreen that provides good PR for governments who have no real intention to reform. Such criticism cannot be dismissed out of hand.”

“I want to highlight what I see as the key element to the OGP’s success: partnership. It is a principle that is so deeply embedded in the OGP, it makes up one-third of its name. That is significant. Because it is as a partnership between government and civil society that the OGP will succeed, or fail.” Continue reading

Highlights of President Kikwete’s speech at the #OGPAfrica Meeting

JK OGPAfrica

President Kikwete speaking at OGP Africa meeting, 20/5/15

“Openness enables people to claim their rights, and reminds government leaders to deliver on their responsibilities”

“Civil society also needs to be transparent, so society can see and understand their work”

“We need to build understanding (Gov, CSOs) to serve citizens. We are building one house, lets not fight over bricks” Continue reading

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 #23: Popular support for open government?

Do people in Tanzania, and elsewhere, support the idea of open government? It’s not a question that is asked very often, but a new dataset collected by the World Bank and others seeks to rectify this.

They asked people in 62 countries – including six in Africa – a short set of questions. Here’s some of the data for Africa – choose a question from the list on the right:

The data was collect through an internet survey, which means the data is dominated by responses from wealthier folks in urban areas. But with that caveat in mind, and focusing on Tanzania in particular, what can we see?

Well, a majority said they thought the government was already open (51%) or somewhat open (29%), but nevertheless, a solid three quarters of respondents expressed support for open government. This doesn’t vary much with the different questions asked:

  • 77% would like government to be more open
  • 76% would trust government more if it were more open
  • 75% would like more information about government
  • 78% said citizens should have a say in government spending and contracting
  • 75% said they thought government would be more effective if it was more open

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