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Govt shatters hope on Right to Information Bill

2nd February 2013
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Amos Makalla, Deputy Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports

The government has decided to shelve the draft of the Right to Information Bill (RTI) on the fact that research on it is required. 

This means the Bill will not be tabled in the National Assembly soon as was widely anticipated by stakeholders including media practitioners.
  
The matter was revealed in the House yesterday by the Deputy Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Amos Makalla when responding to the question by Deo Filikunjombe (Ludewa-CCM) who wanted to know when the Bill would be tabled, since the government has for a long time failed to fulfill its promises on the matter. 
  
Makalla said the government received information and human right stakeholders’ views on the need for the enactment of two media related laws. One is to govern media services and the second on the right to information, he stated. 
  
He told the House: “Following receipt of stakeholders’ proposals on the enactment of the said laws, currently the government considers the importance of having in place the Media Services Act which will establish key organs to oversee media practice, whilst we conduct research on the Right to Information Bill.
  
“At the moment the government is in the final touches at its decision making bodies over the Media Services Bill so that it can be tabled in the House,” noted the deputy minister. 
  
However, it did not go all smooth for Makalla as Kangi Lugola (Mwibara-CCM) who had represented the Ludewa MP expressed his dissatisfaction on how the deputy minister responded to Filikunjombe’s question. 
  
“Honourable Deputy Speaker, the deputy minister did not answer the principal question appropriately. He has used a lot of time and words responding to the Bill (Media Services) which the MP did talk about. The question is about the Right to Information Bill, now can he use 109 words to explain about a different Bill while using 17 words talking on the Bill that was asked about?” queried Lugola. 
  
He argued that the Bill was very important as it would enable the public to get key information from government offices, and in so doing would deter incidents such as those happened in Mtwara where people decided to riot because of lack of useful information.   
  
In his response deputy minister Makalla said the government was keen to ensure the two bills are tabled in the House but insisted that research was crucial on the Right to Information Bill. 
  
“We are still researching on it. This is a very important aspect,” he said, noting that only 14 countries in Africa have in place a law on the Right to Information. “As you are aware late last year some MPs visited India in a mission to learn more on the proposed Bill and this visit was sponsored by MCT (Media Council of Tanzania). This is a revelation that even MCT needs more time to research on the matter,” he declared. 
  
The said Media Services and Right to Information bills have been a subject of lengthy dialogue between media practitioners and human rights activists on one hand and the government on the other for years, but efforts to table a Right of Information Bill in the National Assembly for enactment of such a law have been in vain.  
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN