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The government has formally announced it has withdrawn the proposed Access to Information bill.

The Minister for State in the President’s Office – Special Duties – Prof. Mark Mwandosya has reportedly told Parliament on June 26, 2015 that the move has been taken to accommodate more contributions from stakeholders.

Stakeholders and officials of the Ministry for information, Youth Culture and Sports and the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs met with members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Community Development and some members of the constitutional, Legal Affairs and Governance on June 22, 2015 in Dodoma.

During the meeting stakeholders told the committee chaired by Lindi legislator Said Mtanda that they were not involved in the process from the preparation and finally tabling of the bill.

After hearing remarks from both sides - the stakeholders and the government representatives, the committee chairperson said , he would advise the Speaker but the committee cannot be pressured to submit a bill which did not include contributions from stakeholders.

The government had tabled two bills - Access to Information and Media Services for first reading in March, 2015 session of Parliament.

This time around it had planned to table the Access to Information bill, apparently due to the stiff opposition from the stakeholders , some of whom had claimed that the Media Services bill was worse than any other piece of media related legislation in the country.

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The proposed bill was deemed restrictive as it provided for the establishment of regulatory bodies which among others things would register, de-register and licence journalists and raise professional qualifications to practice journalism.

On the proposed government regulatory bodies, media stakeholders were not comfortable as they are used to self –regulatory mechanism under the Media Council of Tanzania which has been in place for over 20 years now.

After the government intention to introduce the new laws, media stakeholders reacted with precision through lobbying and advocacy to ensure that the proposals are improved.

Apart from engaging with members of parliament , key officials and players, members of CORI appeared on television programmes to elucidate their positions on the proposed bills.

However now that they are shelved, they will have to be taken on by the new government as the general election is around the corner – on October 25, 2015.

The mandate of the current government ends in October, as the ten-year tenure of the sitting President expires after the elections.

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