Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Research groups prepare joint statement on roles after Twaweza-Costech row

Twaweza Executive Director Mr Aidan Eyakuze

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

By Louis Kolumbia @Collouis1999

Dar es Salaam. The Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (Costech) has admitted that there is an information gap among stakeholders over responsibilities of research carried by various institutions.

Research institutions are preparing a joint statement to explain roles played by each of them in different fields.

Apart from Costech, other institutions overseeing research include the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, the National Institute for Medical Research, the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute and the Tanzania Forestry Research Institute.

The revelation comes a few days after Twaweza – a local advocacy group dealing with research including opinion polls -- responded to a Costech letter that demanded explanation over recent results of an opinion poll.

Twaweza was given seven days to explain why legal measures should not be extended against it for conducting the survey and releasing results under the Sauti za Wananchi without registering its project.

But, Costech has failed to explain under what section of its law it seeks to punish Twaweza for conducting and releasing results of the opinion poll.

Costech has acknowledged that it does not have the mandate to oversee the conducting of opinion polls, and that one does not have to seek a permit from it for such an exercise.

Yesterday, Costech acting director general Amos Nungu said research institutions had agreed to issue a joint statement describing roles played by each of them to close the information gap.

“Hopefully, we will meet stakeholders. But, members of the media will be involved to take the message to the public and other research stakeholders,” he said over phone, a few hours before the deadline issued to Twaweza is reached.

He said the Costech letter to Twaweza should not be personalised as the institution executes its duties in accordance with laws, regulations and procedures to improve the environment of conducting research.

Dr Nungu said his office would not disclose the content of Twaweza’s response to Costech.

 “Twaweza has responded to our letter on time. The intention to take legal actions against the NGO no longer exists,” he said.

He insisted that it was normal to communicate with research stakeholders.

Twaweza advocacy manager Anastazia Rugaba told The Citizen that last Friday the group submitted its response to Costech.

 “I can’t disclose content of the letter because it is the communication between the two organisations not the public,” he said.

“We are moving on with our activities.”


Twaweza was served with a letter, a few days after releasing survey findings showing that President John Magufuli’s approval rating has dropped from 71 per cent last year to 55 per cent.

Findings of the survey 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.

The letter, dated July 9, 2018 and purportedly signed by Dr Nungu and addressed to Twaweza executive director Aidan Eyakuze, was circulated on social media on July 11.

“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.