Thursday, July 12, 2018

Costech to clarify ‘letter to Twaweza’

Twaweza Executive Director Mr Aidan Eyakuze

Twaweza Executive Director Mr Aidan Eyakuze doing a presentation at the unveiling of ' Sauti ya Wananchi' survey recently. Photo | Said Khamis 

By Louis Kolumbia @Collouis1999

Dar es Salaam. The Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (Costech) will today clarify a letter it purportedly wrote to Twaweza over its recent study findings.

According to the letter, which began circulating on social media Wednesday July 11, Costech has given Twaweza seven days to explain why “appropriate action” should not be taken against it for allegedly conducting a study without permission.

The developments came a few days after Twaweza released study findings showing that President John Magufuli’s approval rating has dropped from 71 per cent last year to 55 per cent. The report noted, however, that President Magufuli would still be reelected if elections were held at the time of its release.

Findings of the study titled Speaking Truth to Power? Citizens’ Views on Politics in Tanzania show that Dr Magufuli’s approval rating has dropped from 96 per cent in his first year in office in 2016 – a fall of 41 percentage points.

Costech acting director general Amos Nungu said yesterday that the commission would clarify the letter’s authenticity and also outline procedures that should be followed in conducting research.

“Everything will be clarified during a press conference to be held at Costech offices from 9am tomorrow (today),” he said in a telephone interview.

Earlier yesterday, the letter with reference number CST/SC.186/1145/2018, dated July 9, 2018 and purportedly signed by Dr Nungu and addressed to Twaweza executive director Aidan Eyakuze began circulating on social media.

The letter sought the organisation’s explanation why legal action should not be taken against it for conducting a survey under the Sauti za Wananchi platform without registering the project.

“You are hereby required to show within seven days from the date of this letter why appropriate legal action should not be taken against your organisation by the relevant authorities,” the communication says in part.

According to the letter, the Costech database shows that Twaweza had applied for research clearance for four projects, noting that while one project had been completed, three were in progress.

It further states that there is information regarding Twaweza’s new project, Sauti za Wananchi, noting that the commission, which is mandated to register and provide clearance to all research activities taking place in the country, had no record of having granted Twaweza a permit or receiving an application for the same.

“The publication is in violation of Section 11 of the National Research Registration and Research Guidelines by failure to register a research project with Costech,” the letter says.

A Twaweza official, who asked not to be named because she was not authorised to speak to the media, confirmed that the organisation had received the letter from Costech.

“Unfortunately, the executive director is out of the country, and the person who is acting in the position is out of the office until tomorrow (today),” she said over the telephone.

Analysts are of the view that Costech’s research mandate was confined to scientific, technology and allied areas like energy, conservation and medicine.

Research on socioeconomic matters, governance, human rights and political dispensation, they say, are generally not under Costech’s mandate or focus.

“Even in scientific and technological research, it is limited to some areas. Wildlife research is under the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (Tawiri); medical research under the National Institute for Medical Research (Nimr); fisheries under the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (Tafiri); forestry under the Tanzania Forestry Research Institute (Tafori) and agricultural research is overseen by agricultural bodies. Costech is only engaged as a collaborative agency,” an analyst said yesterday.

According to him, universities and NGOs could conduct research without having to consult Costech.

Additional reporting by John Namkwahe