‘While other countries in the world aim to reach the moon, we
must aim – for the time being at any rate – to reach the villages
by providing them with necessary information.’
This famous quote by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the founding
father of the nation, was recorded in 1967. It describes the
importance of providing information to villagers. The idea
behind this statement was that once villagers are adequately
supplied with relevant information, they would be able to
make informed decisions, especially with regard to farming
and livestock keeping. Additionally, providing citizens with
vital information would enable them to participate in the
development and building of the nation.

People also need information to exercise other crucial rights,
such as the right to vote, the right to a clean and healthy
environment and the right to associate. Communities need
to coordinate themselves; activities surrounding wars,
elections, emergency responses to natural calamities and even
community celebrations only succeed if the community knows
where to be, when, and what role to play. This required a system
of information collection and exchange. Information is the
central resource in creating economic and social connections
that build a community’s capacity for action.
Today, accessing information has been made a fundamental right
and is recognised in many countries’ constitutions, and specific
laws have been established to make sure this right is attained.
Since Mwalimu gave that statement, it has taken Tanzania 49 years
to develop a law that guarantees public access to information.
The Access to Information (ATI) Act in Tanzania was enacted in
2016, after a series of decade-long discussions and deliberations
between the government and stakeholders.
Stakeholders believe that this is a step in the right direction as
the world is moving towards a more open society, especially
with the advent of new technology. However, the ATI law and
other legislation, such as the Media Services Act of 2016, the
Media Services Act Regulations 2017, the Cybercrimes Act and
the Statistics Act both of 2015, and the Electronic and Postal
Communications (Online Content) Regulations of 2018 came
with daunting challenges and even bigger threats to the entire
information sector, triggering a national outcry from media,
human rights defenders and the public.
Certain preconditions are necessary for the adequate
implementation of the ATI law, one of them being raising the
capacity of government information officers, which has not yet
taken place.
According to findings in a recent study conducted by MISA
Tanzania, the culture of secrecy among public officials in
Tanzania, at both central and local government levels, is
interfering with the work of journalists. This is hindering
access to information that is necessary for media reporting,

increased civic participation, transparency and accountability
in governance.
The study, which was conducted by the MISA Tanzania
Chapter in partnership with the Collaboration on International
ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), assessed
the responsiveness of local government authorities (LGAs)
and some central government offices to citizens’ information
The study found widespread laxity amongst officials in
the handling and processing of information requests, poor
customer care services, lack of knowledge of the ATI law and
reluctance of government officials to share public information.
The study was conducted as part of the Information and
Communications Technologies (ICT) 4 Democracy Network
in East Africa’s objective to realise access to information by
documenting and publicising the utility and effectiveness of
ICT for government-citizen interaction, proactive information
disclosure, and the level of responsiveness to information

MISA Tanzania joined other MISA Chapters in the region to
participate in a study that aimed at establishing the most open
and secretive government and public institutions. The study
was conducted between 16 July and 17 August 2018.
Four of the eight participating institutions were picked based
on the relevance of the work the institutions are mandated to
carry out for the country. The other four surveyed institutions
are ministries.
Selected public institutions include:
1. Workers Compensation Fund (WCF)
2. Public Service Pensions Fund (PSPF)
3. Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB)
4. Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO)
Selected ministries include:
5. Ministry of Agriculture (MoA)
6. Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries (MoLF)
7. Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI)
8. Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (MIT)

Research Methodology

The research adopted qualitative and quantitative methods of
data collection, and sought to assess the level of public access
to information held by government and public institutions.
In order to achieve this, websites of government and public
institutions were evaluated, along with their responsiveness
to submitted information requests. This method sought to
establish the transparency and efficiency of government and
public institutions in providing information to the public.


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