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June 2017
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International Right to Know Day commemorated

frAn appeal to the Government in power to urgently have 17 pieces of legislation, currently looked at by the general journalism practitioners with contempt thrown away, is a thorny issue which featured prominently during an “International Right to Know Day”, commemorated at national level in Mwanza on 28th September, 2013.

This is a special day proposed on 28 September 2002 at a meeting of Freedom of information Organizations from around the world in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Freedom of information organizations and advocates around the world, including those of Tanzania, have since marked the date with activities to celebrate and raise awareness of the right to information.

During the proceedings at Mwanza’s Gold Crest Hotel, local practitioners and media stakeholders who assembled there, expressed concern over their inability to have access to the Right to Know, notwithstanding a fantastic growth of media outlets from barely 12 in total just a decade ago, to more than 100 today.

Contributing to two papers, one entitled “The Right To Know: How legal System Impacts Press Freedom in Tanzania” ,presented by St Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) lecturer, Mr David Mrisho and another one on “Promoting Constitutional Guarantees on The Right To Information and Freedom of the Press in the New Constitution”, presented by Director of Governance Link, Mr Donald Kasongi, the participants attributed the unsatisfactory situation to the aforesaid 17 hostile pieces of legislation.

Singling out Newspapers Act, 1976 and National Security Act, 1970 as among classic examples of extremely obsolete at the event, jointly organized by Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) and Union of Tanzania |Press Clubs( UTPC), they contended that not only are the legislations colonial and outdated, but also non-starter in promoting cherished right to information and press

freedom.

Mr Mrisho pledged with the Government to see to it that the ‘Right to Know’ legislation is enacted by Parliament as soon as it can in order to keep abreast of an on-going democratization process.

On the other hand, Mr Kasongi equally echoed the practitioners’ thirsty for seeing carefully, comprehensively worded clauses enshrined in the coming Constitution as a remedial measure.

After lengthy discussions, it was resolved that a delegation of people of integrity be identified to represent the media industry at the forthcoming  Constitutional Assembly, the Right To Know Day, in future,  be marked at Press Clubs level as well and that a more rigorous advocacy campaign against bad media laws be launched.

Officially opening the colourful event, on behalf of Mwanza Regional Commissioner, Ilemela District Commissioner, Ms Amina Masenza simply emphasized that the citizenry’s right to information is possible only if media friendly laws will be enacted by Parliament to guarantee the press freedom.

UTPC Executive Director, Mr Abubakar Karsan, closing it later on, spoke very highly of a close working relationship existing between UTPC and MCT and challenged upcoming next generation of leaderships of the two media organisations to emulate such a shining example.

On a wave of religious and political intolerance taking root in the country, the Executive Director warned Tanzanians to be extra vigilant, particularly this time around, when a Constitutional review process is on-going lest the entire nation slide into anarchy.

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