Good governance body, lawyers fault gvnt on live coverage fracas

29Jan 2016
Felister Peter
The Guardian
Good governance body, lawyers fault gvnt on live coverage fracas

The Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG) and a number

of lawyers have condemned the government’s move to limit live coverage of

Bunge sessions and the chaotic manner police were ordered to throw out

opposition MPs on Wednesday.

Nape Nnauye

Using law enforcers and dogs to violently haul law makers out of the

debating chambers and the “weak” cost-cutting argument presented by the

government for curtailing live broadcasts were signs that Tanzania was

moving downward with regard to democracy, human rights and good

governance.

Speaking to The Guardian yesterday, CHRGG chairman Bahame Nyanduga said it

was not right for Chairman of the National Assembly to allow police inside

the debating chambers.

Nyanduga said that each of the three pillars which are judiciary,

Parliament and the Executive should work independently. He said what

police did was an interference by the executive into the activities of the

legislature.

“It is sad indeed. This is against the rules of good governance…we are

keenly watching the matter and will issue our statement”, he said noting

that CHRGG thinks of preparing a guideline on the best ways each of the

pillars should executive its duties.

He said the commission is working to get deeper information concerning the

ban of the tax payer-funded public broadcaster TBC from live broadcast of

National Assembly sessions. He said the aim is to make sure that citizens

are not denied their right to information.

“We have a feeling that people will be denied their right to information

because of the time schedule of airing the programme” he noted.

The opposition Chadema yesterday condemned the government action, saying

if it is true that the problem is money as the government claims, then the

party was ready to mobilize funds for the airtime so that Tanzanians get

their freedom of information.

Chadema acting secretary general Salimu Mwalimu told reporters I Dar es

Salaam that the move is an indication that the fifth government was

heading for dictatorial rule.

“We condemn that action, we disagree with it and no one can tolerate it,

we call upon Media Owners Association of Tanzania and Media Council of

Tanzania to take action on this matter urgently,” he appealed.

Announcing the ban on Wednesday, Minister for Information, Culture, Arts

and Sports said recorded sessions of the National Assembly will be aired

after 10PM.

A Lawyer with Legal and Human Rights Center (LHRC) Harold Sungusia said

the legislators have an exceptional privilege according to Article 100 of

the Union constitution. He said forcing the MPs.

“Actions like this will lead us to infringe of democracy”, he said.
Sungusia pointed that denying people the right to correct information will

cause them access seditious and fiction information through social media.
He was worried that there is a mission behind the ban…we are going

backward”, said Sungusia noting that it is the beginning of eclipse of

democracy in the country.

He said what Tanzanians are seeing now is a manifestation of problems that

have not been solved for a long period.

According to him, voters are tax payers and are the core sponsors of TBC

operations. He said they deserve to see what their representatives are

doing in the august House.

Deputy National Coordinator Women in Law and Development in Africa

(WILDAF) Hanna Kulaya said what happened in the parliament on Wednesday

evening is a big shame. He said the legislative must have its own ways of

solving rising issues.

She said people trust the National Assembly and believes that it is among

the places with high levels of democracy.

She said: “I don’t want to believe that MPs doesn’t have a proper

mechanism to debate and reach consensus on certain matters…leaders should

be wise to make sure issues are solved smoothly”.

Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) President Charles Rwechungura said the act is

a violation of the constitution. He said ‘wananchi’ have the right to

access information from the parliament since it not a crime.

Rwechungura noted that issues of cutting cost are not real calling on the

government to publicly announce TBC’s bankruptcy. He said by so doing

citizens will contribute funds to enable the state owned TV station to

make live broadcast of parliamentary meetings.

Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Nape Nnauye told the

parliament that TBC has been spending over 4.2 bn/- to air the live

coverage an amount it can no longer afford.

The minister made the announcement after he was prompted by Special Seats

Cecilia Pareso (Chadema) who wanted to know why TBC has stopped airing the

live broadcast.

Meanwhile, the government yesterday maintained that TBC shall not carry

out live coverage of parliament proceedings. The government position was

made in parliament yesterday by the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa who

stated, “The decision made by TBC as an independent institution is also

the government position on the matter” he told the house.

He clarified that the public broadcasting organization had not abolished

completely coverage of the house session but had just changed programmes

to suit their business needs. The PM was responding leader of opposition

camp in the parliament, Freeman Mbowe who had sought government

explanation on the matter.

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