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Media Council of Tanzania Website
At last the Right to Information legislation is now in sight. This follows the announcement of the draft proposals of the new constitution of Tanzania.
The chairperson of the Constitution Review Commission, Former Prime Minister, Justice Joseph Warioba, made the draft public during its launch at the Karimjee Hall in Dar es Salaam on June 3, 2013.
The ceremony was graced by the President, Dr. Gharib Billal before a capacity crowd of members of the public, representatives of political parties and the media.
Article 30 ( clause1) of the draft states that everyone has the right to – (a) to seek, to get and use information and disseminate information and (b) to establish media outlets an other means of dissemination of information regardless of national boundaries.
Clause 2 (a) of the draft guarantee the freedom of media outlets stipulating they will have the right to access, use and disseminate information and other reports.
Part ((b) bestows the responsibility (i) to disseminate information and reports to the public (ii) to respect and to protect integrity, individual freedom and privacy relating to the information they process and disseminate.
The government and its institutions, civil organizations and private individuals will have the responsibility to provide information on and the implementation of their activities.
This clause is subject to the conditions of the legislation to be enacted for it in order to safeguard national security, peace, ethics, norms, rights, privacy and individual freedom.
Reacting to the announcement, some of the media practitioners present during the launch of the draft constitution said it was a landmark move.
The Executive Secretary of the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) Kajubi Mukajanga said the media stakeholders are quite elated that that the CRC has accommodated the proposals they raised with the CRC on press freedom and right to information.
He said they will hold further discussions the article with goal to make further improvement and check any drawbacks.
The discussions will be held by the media industry constitutional Council organized by MCT at zonal levels throughout the country with the final big meeting expected to be held in Dar es Salaam.
The Right to Information legislation has been elusive for the last eight years after media stakeholders submitted proposals on the legislation to the government in 2007.
Among media practitioners and stakeholders, the endorsement of the constitution with the right to Information clause, is seen as a harbinger to the enactment of the much sought legislation of right to information.
The government has been prevaricating and recently came with a new twist that it is studying the implementation and efficacy of the legislation in other countries which have enacted it.
The Minister for Information, Youth Culture and Youth, Dr. Fennella Mukangara, pointed out in Parliament on May 20,2013 when she presented the budget estimates for her ministry for 2013/14 that the government has finalized a bill to regulate the media and insisted that it was still studying the Right to Information legislation.
Media stakeholders had presented the government proposals for a bill on media services on 2008 and not on media regulation as they support self-regulation by the media and not statutory regulation.
While Dr, Mukangara is buying more time to study the right to information legislation, the Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Mathias Chikawe, told editors attending the consultative summit of the Media Councl of Tanzania and Tanzania Editors held inTanga on May 28 that the process in preparation the legislation is in progress .
Chikawe whose ministry coordinates the Open Govern Partnership (OGP) for Tanzania, said the government has already identified areas for initial implementation of the legislation. They are water, health and education.
According the minister, the public will be posted on the developments of the areas whenever they seek information.
This is the first attempt to accommodate the Right to Information in the constitution and specifically mentioning the media.
Such right is provided in clause 18 of the present constitution but was so generally to the public but mute on media.
The first draft of the constitution covers a wide spectrum of issues including the presidency and the form and matters of the union, will now be discussed at constituent Councils established throughout the country after which the enriched draft will be tabled before the Constituent Assembly which will come with the constitutional that will be decided by national referendum.
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