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.

… a newspaper – MwanaHalisi – is currently suspended (again) from publication, joining Mawio. The Media Services Act of 2016 also requires that newspapers must re-register on an annual basis, and requires than anyone practising as a journalist must be approved by the government – approval that can be withdrawn at any time.

UPDATE 29/9/17: RaiaMwema has now also been suspended.

… several social media users have been arrested, charged and found guilty under the Cybercrime Act, for insulting the President. Under this Act, it also remains illegal to post things online that are “misleading” or “inaccurate”.

… two leading online entrepreneurs – the folks behind Jamii Forums – are on trial under the same Act, for refusing to divulge the identity of whistle-blowers using their site.

… an independent research firm – GeoPoll – was recently warned after publishing statistics that were said to be “unofficial”, and which (perhaps coincidentally?) showed low listener numbers for a state-run broadcaster. It remains unclear whether collection of unofficial statistics is permitted under the Statistics Act, which also puts academic freedom at risk by prohibiting publication of false or distorting statistics.

… the government has withdrawn Tanzania from the Open Government Partnership.

… one opposition politician – Zitto Kabwe – finds himself hounded by the Speaker of Parliament for expressing his opinion.

… while another – Tundu Lissu – was shot in the nation’s capital by “unknown assailants”, after expressing criticism of the government, including its approach to the mining industry, and being repeatedly accused of sedition and a lack of patriotism by the police and the President.

… his assailants remain unknown: nobody has been arrested, though the shooting took place in broad daylight and it is known the security forces were watching the politician closely.

… nor has anyone been arrested in connection with the incidents earlier this year where one politician – Paul Makonda, a close ally of the President – stormed with armed men into the studios of Clouds Media, or a few days later where a gun was drawn – in broad daylight – against another, Nape Nnauye, who stood up in defence of Clouds.

… and we wait for the Access to Information Act to come into operation (and for regulations to be published), though the Act was passed by parliament more than a year ago.

Happy Access to Information Day, everyone!

Source: Sauti za Wananchi, 2015 – representative of Tanzania mainland

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