Government urged not to rush information bills
Media stakeholders have appealed to the Government to rescind its decision to table two pertinent bills - Access to Information and Media Services to the National Assembly under certificate of urgency.
Instead, they requested it to use the normal arrangement of tabling bills which would afford ample time for stakeholders to read them and contribute their views.
The stakeholders who met under the umbrella of the Media Council of Tanzania on March 19 and 20,2015, argued in a joint statement released after brainstorming the government intention, pointed out that there was no need to rush tabling the bills under certificate of urgency.
They defined the two legislations as enabling and paramount for progress which require fully public participation in preparation.
The stakeholders argued that they have been pressing for the two legislations for almost a decade now and they had even presented the government with proposals on the two bills – Right to Information in 2007 and Media Services in 2008.
However the government had been dragging its feet in tabling the bills before parliament – then suddenly it wants to fast track tabling of the bills!
The stakeholders also appealed to the National Assembly not to accept the bills if they are tabled under certificate of urgency.
They advised that the bills can be presented only for first reading and then follow the normal arrangement of providing at least 21 days for contributions by stakeholders and members of the public and and to tabled later for second reading and endorsement.
The stakeholders had expressed concern that the bills which the government want to rush to table before the August house may be restrictive and hamper press freedom.
During the meeting of stakeholders on March 19, 2015 some of them had wondered why the government was hastening to table the bills, while the proposed constitution accommodated to pertinent articles on freedom of information and freedom of the press.
The articles - 39 and 40 in the proposed constitution even require the government to enact legislations to protect the media.
The two bills which the stakeholders contest, are slated for presentation before the on-going session of the National Assembly on March 27, 2015.
The stakeholders have also picked a nine-member team which will go to Dodoma to express their case to Members of Parliaments and other key players.
The stakeholders who met and came out with the statement on the issue, are the Media Council of Tanzania whose Executive Secretary, Kajubi Mukajanga chaired the meeting, Sahara Media Group, Policy Forum, Legal and Human Rights Centre,The Guardian Limited, Mwananchi Communications Ltd, TWAWEZA,Tanzania Media Fund, Free Media Ltd, Tanzania Citizens’ Information Bureau,SIKIKA and Hali Halisi Publishers.
Copies of the stakeholders statement were presented to the Speaker, the Minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs and The Minister for Information Youth and Culture.