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Govt withdraws media bills apparently due to intense lobbying

rtimsbstakeholdersmeeting

The Government appears to have changed its earlier plans to table two bills - Access to Information and Media Services in the on-going session of the National Assembly.

The bills which attracted wide interest and raised mixed feelings from media stakeholders are not included in the Parliamentary schedule for Friday March 27, 2015 to Wednesday April 1, 2015.

The two bills were expected to be tabled under certificate of urgency which was roundly opposed by media stakeholders.

A team of media stakeholders was sent to Dodoma to lobby against tabling the bills under certificate of urgency.

The main concern of stakeholders was why the government wanted to rush the bills which they had been pressing for their enactment into law for almost a decade.

Reacting to the government’s move, the Executive Secretary of the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), Kajubi Mukajanga, congratulated it for heeding the appeal by stakeholders not to rush tabling of the bills.

He said the stakeholders were not opposed to the bills but had wanted them not to be rushed.

Mukajanga who had chaired a meeting of stakeholders resulting into sending a lobby team to Dodoma, said they had wanted the bills to be tabled for first reading and to finalized at later – may be during the budget session.

However he said the stakeholders do not yet know the contents of the proposed bills and would have preferred to get them and contribute their views.

He expressed cautious optimism following the withdrawal of the bills but cautioned media stakeholders as the government has not explained why it had withdrawn them.

Reports from Dodoma had earlier in the week indicated that the order tio have the two bills presented under certificate of urgency came from higher authorities as a move to impress the international community on the status of Tanzania in relation to Access to Information and press freedom.

Tanzania’s record on information is not that plausible as the government is associated with frequent banning or suspension of newspapers.

Recent casualty in this trend is the East African newspaper which the authorities suspended its circulation in Tanzania on the grounds that it has not properly registered in the country.

The suspension of The East African, a region newspapers published by the Kenya based Nation Media Group (NMG) was even raised during a recent official visit by the President of Germany, Joachim Gauck compelling host President Kikwete to explain.

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