TANZANIA INTRODUCTION The right of access to information is recognised as a fundamental human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and is legally binding under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. More importantly, Article 18 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania guarantees the right to access to information. In 2016, Parliament passed an Access to Information Act which is intended to ensure the enforcement of this right. The right to information is essential as it facilitates the exercise of the full range of other human rights. In particular, the right underscores the essence of an informed public through guaranteeing citizens’ access to public information, empowering people to call their governments to account for their actions. However, it is feared that the Tanzanian Access to Information Act may actually limit access. The restriction of access to information may take the form of limiting access to governmental or official information, as well as harassment of the press, which may lead to censorship. Such restrictions may be imposed by political authorities or by private organisations. In Tanzania, efforts to legislate access to information can be dated back to the early 1990s. Notable forward progress was made in the 2000s—firstly with policy reforms in the broadcasting sector, followed by the Government introducing a draft Freedom of Information Bill in 2006. The process of developing access to information legislation stalled until 2015, when the Access to Information Act and the Media Services Act were issued by Government. However, concerns were raised about both Acts which, according to stakeholders’ analysis, carried some provisions which were likely to infringe on principles of freedom of speech, media freedom and free flow of information. In fact, both Bills were deemed by some critics as being more draconian than the 2015 Cybercrimes and Statistics Acts. These two laws, which influence how Tanzanians access and share information, were widely opposed by stakeholders for their potential of curtailing people’s rights to access to information and freedom of expression. The Media Services Act, for instance, contains provisions that would weaken the independence of the media and subsequently limit citizens’ access to information. Under the Access to information Act, the wrongful release of information is punishable by 3 – 5 years imprisonment. In contrast, wrongful withholding of information is not punishable, providing information holders with an incentive to refuse the provision of information. The Access to Information Act was ideally meant to operationalise and enforce provisions of Article 18 of the country’s Constitution, however no regulations have been gazetted as of mid-July this year. 86 Little has been done with respect to publicly promoting the Access to Information Act (neither its contents nor its implementation), neither by the government nor by civil society. This may be the reason why most public servants behave in the manner this study reports, and probably why the general public does not know that they have a right to access information on the activities of both the Government and private bodies which utilise public funds. Rationale and ReseaRch PaRaMeteRs MISA Tanzania joined other MISA Chapters to participate in the study which seeks to establish the most open and most secretive public institutions in Southern Africa. The study was conducted from 11th July to 10th August 2017. All eight institutions were picked randomly, depending on the relevance of their mandated work. Most were surveyed for the first time since their establishment. Information request letters were hand-delivered and emails were sent to the selected institutions. The study also assessed the quality of these institutions’ websites—whether they contain relevant and useful information for the public. The following public institutions were surveyed: 1. National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) 2. Bank of Tanzania (BOT) 3. Prevention and Combating Corruption Bureau (PCCB) 4. Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) 5. Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) 6. Tanzania Forest Services Agency (TFS) 7. Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) 8. Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (TIRA) Limitations of the Study • • • Limited financial and manpower resources. Time: 21 days were allocated for the study which seems to be too little time for some busy organisations; regardless of the fact that several public officials seemed inattentive. Lack of understanding of the importance of access to information by some public officials.