Wadau waitaka serikali kutekeleza Sheria ya Upatikanaji wa Taarifa/Stakeholders call on government to implement the Access to Information Act


  Duniani kote, sheria za upatikanaji wa taarifa zimebadilisha uhusiano uliopo kati ya wananchi na serikali. Wananchi wanapoelewa serikari yao inafanya nini, huweza kuchagiza maendeleo na wao wenyewe kunufaika. Wananchi wakiwa na taarifa za kutosha huweza kuchangia ipasavyo jitihada mbali mbali za maendeleo zenye kuleta maboresho ya jamii. Wakati mwingine, wanaweza kusaidia kufichua vitendo vya rushwa na uovu katika jamii zao. Mara nyingi upatikanaji wa taarifa huiwezesha serikali kuhakikisha mipango yake inaendana na hali halisi ya jamii. Pia taarifa huwasaidia watafiti kuchunguza zaidi na kutoa ufumbuzi wa matatizo sugu yanayozikabili jamii.     Wananchi huweza kuuona umuhimu wao pale wanapoweza kufuatilia yale yanayoendelea katika jamii zao, na kuyachukulia hatua. Jamii bora ni ile inayoendesha shughuli zake kwa uwazi, ushirikishwaji na uwajibikaji; na yenye mifumo ya kuwapatia wananchi taarifa kwa uharaka. Jamii kama hiyo huwapa wananchi nafasi ya kushiriki kwenye masuala ya kijamii na huwapa nafasi za kutoa mawazo yao kwa uhuru, na demokrasia ya kuchagua viongozi wao na kuwawajibisha.   Sisi, wanachama wa umoja wa AZAKI zinazojishughulisha na masuala yahusuyo haki ya kupata taarifa, (Coalition on the Right to Information) tunaipongeza serikali kwa mara nyingine kwa kupitisha Sheria ya Upatikanaji wa Taarifa (2016), hususani kwa kuthamini mawazo na maoni ya baadhi ya wadau kabla ya sheria hiyo haijapitishwa.   Hata hivyo, inasikitisha kuwa kanuni zinazoratibu utekelezaji sheria hii bado hazijaandaliwa, na pia kwamba sheria hii bado haijatangazwa rasmi katika gazeti la serikali. Sheria hii ilipitishwa mwaka mmoja uliopita lakini mpaka sasa bado haijaanza kutumika.   Katika kuelekea Siku ya Kimataifa ya Upatikanaji wa Taarifa (Septemba 28), tunaiomba serikali ianze hatua ya majadiliano ya kuandaa kanuni ili zikamilishwe mapema iwezekanavyo. Kwa sasa, tunaomba serikali itangaze sheria hii kwenye gazeti la serikali wakati mchakato wa kuaandaa kanuni unaendelea.   Kwa sasa, kuna uwezekano mkubwa kwamba wananchi hawapati taarifa pindi wanapozihitaji. Mwezi Januari/Februari mwaka 2016, watafiti, wakiwa kama wananchi wa kawaida, walitembelea ofisi 131 za serikali. Ofisi hizi zilikuwa katika wilaya 26 na takwimu zilizokusanywa zina uwakilishi wa kitaifa.   Nia ya ziara hizi ilikuwa kutafuta taarifa fulani na watafiti hao walifanikiwa kupata taarifa za suala 1 kati ya masuala 3 (asilimia 33) waliyokuwa wanayahitaji. Hii inamaanisha kuwa, wananchi hawapati taarifa juu ya masuala mawili kati ya matatu wanayoyahitaji, kutoka katika ofisi za serikali. Japokuwa takwimu hizi zilikusanywa kabla ya kupitishwa kwa Sheria ya Upatikanaji wa Taarifa, hakuna sababu ya kudhani kuwa matokeo haya yamebadilika kwa kiwango kikubwa.   Kutokana na utafiti uliopita, tungependa kujikita kwenye maeneo yafuatayo:  ·         Asilimia 84 ya wananchi waliunga mkono mswada wa upatikanaji wa taarifa bungeni kabla haujapitishwa kuwa sheria, hii inaonesha kuwa wananchi wangependa kupata taarifa za serikali. ·         Asilimia 77 ya wananchi wanaamini kuwa wananchi wa kawaida wanapaswa kupata taarifa zinazomilikiwa na serikali. ·         Asilimia 80 ya wananchi wanaamini kuwa rushwa na matendo mengine maovu yatapungua iwapo wananchi watakuwa na uwezo wa kupata taarifa. ·         Asilimia 42 ya wananchi wangependa kupata taarifa zaidi zinazohusu sekta mbalimbali kutoka serikalini.   Katibu Mtendaji wa Baraza la Habari Tanzania (MCT), Kajubi Mukajanga, anasema “Sote tunafahamu nguvu ya taarifa.  Upatikanaji wa taarifa ni muhimu sana na huwawezesha wananchi kujenga jamii ya kidemokrasia na yenye nguvu ambapo wananchi wanaweza kuzungumza kuhusu hatma ya maisha yao. Vyombo vya habari ni muhimu sana katika kuhakikisha suala hili linawezekana na serikali ina wajibu wa kuweka mifumo ya sheria na sera ili kufikia lengo hili.”   “Japokuwa Sheria ya Upatikanaji wa Taarifa, 2016 ilipitishwa mwaka uliopita” anaongeza, “hakuna kitu kikubwa kilichofanyika kuifanya sheria hiyo ianze kutumika na kuhakikisha wananchi wanapata taarifa kwa uhuru kutoka serikalini. Ni wakati sasa wa sheria hii kuanza kutumika, hususani kwa kutengeneza kanuni muhimu kupitia njia ya mashauriano. Tofauti na hapo tunaweza kuhitimisha kwa kusema sheria hii ni kama danganya toto tu.”   Aidan Eyakuze, Mkurugenzi Mtendaji wa Twaweza, anasema “Upatikanaji wa taarifa ni msingi imara katika ujenzi wa jamii ya kidemokrasia na yenye mafanikio endelevu. Kupitishwa kwa Sheria ya Upatikanaji wa Taarifa ni moja kati ya mambo yaliyoainishwa kuwa ya muhimu mwaka 2016 na Asasi za kiraia, vyombo vya habari na wananchi. Tunaiomba serikali ishirikiane na wadau katika kuandaa kanuni zinazoratibu utekelezaji wa sheria hii, na pia kutangaza rasmi matumizi ya sheria hii katika gazeti la serikali. Vilevile tunawakaribisha wananchi kuanza kuitumia sheria hii kujaribu kupata taarifa.”   Mkurugenzi wa Misa-TAN Gasirigwa Sengiyumva, anasema, “Njia pekee ambayo nchi inaweza kutarajia kuwa na wananchi wanaowajibika na wanaoshiriki vema katika mipango ya maendeleo ni kwa kuhakikisha wanapata taarifa. Wananchi wenye taarifa mara zote hufanya maamuzi yenye tija.”   Mkurugenzi Mtendaji wa Kituo cha Sheria na Haki za binadamu, Dkt. Helen Kijo-Bisimba alihitimisha kwa kusema, “Kila Mtanzania ana haki ya kupata taarifa za serikali. Serikali wazi na inayowajibika lazima iwahakikishie wananchi wake uhuru wa kupata taarifa. Mwaka 2016 serikali ya Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania ilipitisha Sheria ya Upatikanaji wa Taarifa lakini sheria hii imeacha mambo mengi yasiyo ya kawaida ambayo yanahatarisha haki ya kupata taarifa. Kwa mantiki hii tunaiomba serikali kupitia na kuanisha mambo hayo kuhusu Sheria ya Kupata Taarifa kabla sheria hiyo haijaanza kutumika. Baadhi ya mambo hayo ni muda wa kusubiri kabla maombi ya taarifa kujibiwa, wananchi wa Tanzania pekee kuruhusiwa kupata taarifa, wigo mdogo wa taarifa zinazopaswa kutangazwa, utata katika kuzuia baadhi ya taarifa, ada kwa ajili ya kupata taarifa na mambo mengine mengi yanahitajika kupitiwa.”   --- Mwisho --- Kwa taarifa zaidi wasiliana na: Annastazia Rugaba | arugaba@twaweza.org | 0687 222 197   Taarifa kwa wahariri Siku ya Kimataifa ya Upatikanaji wa Taarifa huadhimishwa duniani kila tarehe 28 Septemba. Ilianzishwa mwaka 2003. Press Release 13 September 2017     Around the world, access to information laws have transformed the relationship between citizens and their governments. When citizens understand what their government is doing, they can actually help it, and ultimately themselves. They can contribute useful and constructive ideas on how to improve society. Sometimes, that can involve uncovering corruption or waste. Often it is just about helping the government make sure its policies and plans are relevant to the local situation. Or it can help researchers to dig deeper and find new solutions to tough problems.   When citizens can monitor what’s going on, make comparisons and act, they gain a sense of purpose and control; a sense not only that things happen to us, but that we can make things happen. Creating open societies, where citizens can freely access and share data and ideas, and choose their leaders and hold them accountable, creates a sense of belonging and gives people a stake in public affairs.   We, members of the Coalition on the Right to Information, again congratulate the Government on the passage of the Access to Information Act (2016), particularly for its consideration of some stakeholder comments and views on the law before it was passed.   However we note with some dismay that regulations for this law still have not been prepared; the law has not been gazetted. Effectively we passed this law one year ago but as of now we have been unable to make use of it.   In the run up to the International Day for Universal Access to Information (28 September), we call on the Government to begin a consultative process to prepare the regulations so these can be finalized as soon as possible. In the meantime, we call on the Government to gazette the legislation so it can be used even as regulations are being prepared.   Currently, citizens are unlikely to be able to access government information. In January / February of 2016, researchers posed as ordinary citizens and visited 131 government offices in 26 districts to seek specific types of information. The data collected are nationally representative. We find that these researchers successfully acquired the information they were looking for in 1 out of 3 cases (33%). This means that two out of three times, when a citizen requests information from a government office, they will not receive that information. Although these data were collected before the passage of the Access to Information Act, given the slow pace of implementation there is no reason to suppose that results have changed significantly.   Based on past research, we would further like to draw attention to the following: ·         84% of citizens supported the passage of the Access to Information Act in Parliament before it became law, showing that citizens want to access government information. ·         77% of citizens believe that ordinary citizens should have access to information held by government. ·         80% of citizens believe that corruption and other wrongdoing would be reduced if citizens had more access to information. ·         42% of citizens would be interested in having more information from government about different sectors and services.   Kajubi Mukajanga, Executive Secretary of the Media Council for Tanzania said  “We all know that information is power. The free flow of news and information is a prerequisite for citizens to forge a strong and democratic society in which they have a say in their destiny. The media is an important vehicle in making this happen and the government has the obligation to put into place the requisite legal and policy framework towards this end.”   “Although the Access to information Act, 2016 was passed a year ago” he added, “nothing much has been done to operationalise it and ensure that citizens have free and fast access to information from the government and its agencies. It is high time that this law starts being used, in particular by putting into place the necessary regulations through a consultative process. Otherwise we might conclude that the law is merely a smokescreen.” Aidan Eyakuze, Executive Director of Twaweza said “Access to information is the foundation of a principled, democratic and prosperous society. The passage of the Access to Information Act was one of the highlights of 2016 for civil society, media and citizens. We urge the government to follow through on this important commitment it has made to openness and transparency by gazetting the commencement of the law and developing regulations. We also invite citizens to start using the law to try to access information.”   Dr Helen Kijo-Bisimba, Executive Director of Legal and Human Rights Centre noted that “Every citizen and non-citizen has right to access government’s information. Any accountable and transparent government should guarantee accessibility of information to its people. In 2016 the government of United Republic of Tanzania passed the law on access to information but the law itself has left behind a lot of irregularities which infringes the right to information. It is for that reason that we call upon the government to make revision and address the inconsistencies regarding right to information act before the law is put into effect. Irregularities like length of time for responding to information request, limited access to information to Tanzanian citizens only, narrow scope of information required to be published, vague exceptions to disclosure of information, information access fees and many others are to be addressed.”   Gasirigwa Sengiyumva, National Director of MISA-TAN said “The only way the country can expect responsible citizenship and meaningful participation in development programmes is by making sure the public is well informed. Informed citizenry always make informed decisions.”   --- Ends --- For more information, contact: Annastazia Rugaba, Advocacy Manager, Twaweza | arugaba@twaweza.org | 0687 222 197   Notes to Editors The International Day for Universal Access to Information is celebrated globally every year on 28 September. It was established in 2003.

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