UPDATE 17/6/15: From the published parliamentary timetable, it appears that the government intends to pass these three bills under a certificate of urgency. The current parliamentary session has been extended until July 8, 2015, for this purpose. I have amended this post accordingly. I have also added some information relating to which of the bills are set to apply to Zanzibar, and which to Mainland Tanzania only.
Set to become a thing of the past? (Source: The Citizen, 7/11/14)
I will leave it to others to examine the bills in detail – there is a lot here, over 200 pages in all. But what do these laws say about transparency in the sector? I have collated some highlights. Continue reading →
Nipashe, 25/3/15 – “Media Bills” under tight security
By Aidan Eyakuze and Ben Taylor *
At first we were excited. Tanzanian media and freedom of information advocates had been waiting for years for the Access to Information (ATI) and Media Services Bill, and the timetable for the latest parliamentary session included both. Were things finally moving?
The timetable also had bills on Statistics and Cybercrime. Was President Kikwete trying to push through a series of new laws before his time in office comes to an end later this year? He has played a leading role on the global stage on these issues, particularly through the Open Government Partnership (OGP), so perhaps this was an attempt to enshrine open government as his legacy.
Then we were concerned. Why were the ATI and Media Bills not available on the bunge website? Why were they being rushed through under certificates of urgency, severely limiting opportunities for consultation and debate? Continue reading →
The long-awaited launch of ACT Wazalendo as Tanzania’s newest political party finally took place on Sunday. As expected, Zitto Kabwe, whose long-running battle with his former party, Chadema, recently came to an end, has been appointed as party leader.
Perhaps the new party’s most notable policy position is their insistence that all party leaders much make a declaration of their assets, which will be posted online. Continue reading →
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.
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 →
Prof Sospeter Muhongo, Tanzania’s Minister of Energy and Minerals, speaking in parliament last week, said that there was no way his ministry would submit gas contracts to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament. This is despite the PAC having repeatedly requested the Tanzanian Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) to provide copies of the 26 Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) the government has signed with oil and gas exploration companies. And despite the arrest (briefly) of the TPDC Chair and acting Executive Director for refusing to comply, on the orders of the PAC chair, Zitto Kabwe.
Here’s what Prof Muhongo said:
“We have to adhere to government regulations. We cannot subject the contracts to public discussions, because they are regulations in place governing them. Even contracts between individuals, like yourself and somebody else must be governed by certain rules.”
Cross posted from the blog of the UK-based aid transparency campaign organisation, Publish What You Fund. The original was published on October 20th.
“We will require organisations receiving and managing funds from DFID to release open data on how this money is spent in a common, standard, reusable format. They will need to require this of sub-contractors and sub-agencies – right through the aid chain.”
That was Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for International Development, speaking in 2012 on DFID’s commitment to transparency.
The goal is traceability: for British taxpayers to be able to track the flow of funds from DFID in London to a handpump in rural Tanzania or a primary school in Nepal, even where the funds pass through several different organisations on the way. The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and DFID’s Development Tracker website are the means to achieve this. Continue reading →
Last weekend, Statoil management finally broke their silence on their leaked contract for gas production in Tanzania. In an interview with The Citizen newspaper, Statoil’s Country Manager for Tanzania, Øystein Michelsen, spoke at length, including on the subject of contract transparency:
“Statoil respects the position of any government in the countries where we operate with regards to whether the contracts are made publicly available or not. In a number of countries where we operate the contracts are publicly available and Statoil does comply with that position. In Tanzania, the contracts are confidential and for that matter, Statoil also complies with that position.” [my emphasis]
“In 2012, Transparency ranked Statoil as the most transparent company among the world 105 largest publicly traded companies [see here]. We will continue to promote transparency, but we will also respect contract terms and the obligations we have towards our partners.”
The Citizen used this as their headline: “Investors accuse govt of keeping contracts secret.” And the point is clear: Statoil has no objection to contract transparency. Continue reading →