Without prejudice to expression the
laws of the land, every person has the right
to freedom of opinion and expression, and
to seek, receive and impart or disseminate
information and ideas through any media
regardless of national frontiers, and also
has the right of freedom from interference
with his communications.
Every citizen has the right to be informed at all times of various events in the
country and in the world at large which
are of importance to the lives and activities of the people and also of issues of importance to society (URT, 1998).
In practice, however, the extent to
which Tanzanians enjoy these constitutional mandates is far from certain because translating legal and constitutional
rights into bureaucratic mandates and operational practices remains a key challenge
to Tanzania.
In fact, the government of Tanzania
had prepared two draft bills on access to
information; the Freedom of Information Bill (2006) and the Media Service Bill
(2007). The two draft bills were however
found wanting and media stakeholders
rejected them. Instead, they formed a coalition under the Media of Council of Tanzania (MCT) and prepared two alternative
Bills, the Right to Information Bill (2007)
and the Media Service Bill. The two bills
were presented to the government in 2007
but since then the latter has kept silent
and done nothing serious about the bills.
The right to information is a basic right
for every human being as guaranteed and
protected in the Constitution of the United
Republic of Tanzania, including in a number of international and regional instruments for the protection of human rights,


So This is Democracy • 2011

most of which Tanzania is a signatory.
It is the responsibility of the government to enact good Laws to enhance the
accessibility of information by its citizens
for the enjoyment of such rights. But if
the government is not ready for this,
then Members of Parliament should use
Rule 81 to have individual MPs or Parliamentary Committees to initiate and
table a private motion for a Bill to enact
a Law that would guarantee the right to
information in Tanzania.
The recently launched African Platform on Access to Information (APAI)
Declaration is still a new thing in the
country. Not many are aware of it and
this includes media practitioners themselves. More needs to be done, particularly in terms of popularizing the document
to key stakeholders (both in government
and private) who will in turn take it to
the general public.

State of print media
The print media development in Tanzania is acclaimed as exemplary in East
Africa and Africa so far. Tanzania has
nearly 700 registered newspapers, 19
dailies, 41 weeklies and over 50 other
However, the consumption of newsprint in Tanzania is still the lowest in East
Africa. For example, a combined circulation of four English dailies (Daily News,
The Citizen, Guardian, and The African)
is less than 50,000 copies whereas the
circulation of The Daily Nation alone in
Kenya is 150,000 copies by comparison.
Moreover, the culture of reading
in Tanzania is falling drastically; this is

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