PRESIDENT John Magufuli’s one-year administration has successfully reinvigorated transparency, accountability and organisational capabilities towards improved quality of services delivered in the country.
Few days after he assumed office, President Magufuli started making international headlines for his austerity measures as well as his impatience with corruption and misuse of public office.
He ordered that all public meetings and workshops be held in government buildings instead of hiring conference rooms in expensive hotels. Dr Magufuli trimmed a delegation to a tour of the commonwealth countries from 50 to just four people.
He also effected massive reforms aimed at strengthening transparency, accountability and organisational capabilities to guarantee delivery of high quality services to citizens.
The president tightly controlled foreign trips for public officials, subjecting all applications for international travels to State House approval after serious scrutiny. Dr Magufuli who has himself snubbed over 50 presidential invitations defended the move as inevitable towards reshaping the country.
Thanks to the enactment of numerous laws--the Statistics Act, 2015, Cybercrime Act, 2015 and Media Service Act 2016, Dr Magufuli is now pushing for the rule of law, although critics charge that the fifth phase administration is increasingly becoming unfriendly to human rights.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a multilateral treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 16, 1966, came into effect on March 23, 1976. It commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial.
Tanzania, one of the 74 signatories and 168 parties under the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) must promote human rights. Article 19 of the covenant says, “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
” The covenant however imposes some certain restrictions with respect to the rights or reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, of public health or morals.
Observers have it that Tanzania adaptation of three laws, the Statistics Act, 2015, Cybercrime Act, 2015 and Media Service Act 2016, is in line with the international treaty to protect the public against defamation, invasion of privacy, national security and public health. Meshark Juma, a taxi driver in Dar es Salaam, supports President Magufuli whom he says has reinstated the rule of law.
He appreciates the government’s strict enforcement of the laws as a positive move, saying if one adheres to rules and regulations governing the country, there is no way they can get into troubles.
“You cannot easily maneuver under this administration,” he says, noting that even public offices now operate as the rules and regulations. His views contrast many critics who denounce the Media Act, for instance, saying the legislation is designed to give the government more powers over media and press freedom.
Some had it that the cybercrime law also is turning into a draconian legislation, infringing on human rights. But, as you take a critical look at things. Is there any one under the sun who will smile if his/her personal privacy is attacked?
Obvious NO! but should we let those endangering lives with false information and statistics to flourish? The Media Service Act 2016, according to the Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports Nape Nnauye, intends to transform the media fraternity into a recognised profession. Similar to lawyers or doctors, for journalist to become full professionals, must have a body of accreditation and professionals must be registered.
“The law will allow media practitioners to establish councils and press media owners to insure reporters,” Mr Nnauye says in defense of the Act. Therefore efficacy of public institutions depends on the delivery mechanism and the institutional framework of rules, regulations and procedures, which has to evolve continuously to respond to the changing times.
Currently there is a pressing need, on one hand to improve organisational capabilities to cater for the increasing demand for services and improvement in the quality of service delivery, and on the other, to improve transparency and accountability.