The study focused on assessment of ministries and institutional transparency and later hosting the National Golden Key and Golden Padlock award ceremonies.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa- Tanzania Chapter (MISA TAN) honorary life member Rose Hajj said yesterday in Dar es Salaam that the culture of secrecy was still embedded in public offices, particularly in the central government.
She was representing the MISA TAN chairperson Salome Kitomari at the commemoration of the International Day for Universal Access to information (IDUAI) that also went along with the launch of the MISA transparency assessment and awarding ceremonies.
The veteran journalist said that since 2009, MISA-TAN has evaluated the level of openness of government and other public institutions in its annual transparency assessment.
In this year’s study, eight ministries and four agencies were assessed, namely the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation as well as the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
Public institutions assessed were the Workers Compensation Fund (WCF), the Public Service Pensions Fund (PSPF), the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), and the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Ltd (TANESCO).
Out of these, the Public Service Pensions Fund (PSPF) obtained the Golden Key Award for the most open public institution and the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries was handled the Golden Padlock award for the most secretive public institution among those covered by this year’s assessment exercise.
“The study conducted by MISA seeks to establish the ease or difficulty with which citizens can access public information,” she elaborated.
Furthermore, the study assesses whether public institutions proactively make relevant information available via an online presence with a website or social media accounts, she said.
The study further evaluated to what degree information is made available to citizens upon request.
She recommended to the government to conduct thorough training to staff especially communication officers to sharpen their knowledge to handle requests reflecting the people’s right to information.
Speaking in the launching ceremony, MISA TAN board member Michael Gwimile said the study was conducted fairly on ministries and government agencies involved, with follow up going to see whether they had improved after an initial assessment.
“The study was assessment of free access to information, it was free and did not need permission from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS),” he explained.
The Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania section 18 stresses on the right to access of information, the board member affirmatively noted.