Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Why the OGP should not admit Tanzania.

By Alykhan

If you are a fan of transparency and accountability then it must have come to your attention that Tanzania has submitted its intent to join the Open Government Partnership, a voluntary coalition of member states who are committed to be more open to its citizens. According to my opinion, Tanzania should not be admitted to the OGP. Here is why: Tanzania does not have Freedom of Information Legislation.

The OGP should set as their first and mandatory condition that any country admitted to this coalition should have a Freedom of Information Act legislated or at least in discussion in Parliament. This is an important ideological standpoint, as any country admitted to OGP legitimizes its commitment to transparency and potentially opens up access to more aid (we dont know if this has been set as a pre-condition for more aid). This is similar to joining the United Nations to legitimize a country and joining the EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) to legitimize mineral earnings.

OGP country members and hopefuls already have a good track record when it comes to FOI legislation. Out of the 55 countries, only 4 lack any FOI legislation or a bill in discussion in parliament ( and Tanzania is one of them. 

Why is Freedom of Information Important?

This is the foundation of a truly transparent and accountable government when an ordinary citizen can request any public information from the government and take action on it. We cannot completely rely or trust government officials to reveal damaging information. Just as we need the police to maintain security in our country so we need an FOI legislation to ensure corrupt officials cannot get away. 

No comments:

Post a Comment