Saturday, March 28, 2015

Govt now drops move to rush information bill

Ubungo MP John Mnyika seeks the Speaker’s

Ubungo MP John Mnyika seeks the Speaker’s guidance on the Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda’s absence from the Prime Minister’s questions and answers session in Parliament yesterday.  Right is Mbozi West MP David Silinde.   PHOTO | ANTHONY SIAME 

By Katare Mbashiru,The Citizen Reporter

Dodoma. The government at last heeded to public outcry and dropped a plan to table two controversial information bills under a certificate of urgency that would have locked out views from key players.

The Citizen learnt yesterday that the government will now move the Media Services Bill and Access to Information Bill through normal parliamentary procedures.

The bills were scheduled to be tabled under Certificate of Urgency next Tuesday but a revised schedule of Parliament business for next week released yesterday showed that they had been removed.

According to Ubungo MP, Mr John Mnyika, Parliament convened an urgent meeting of the Steering Committee on Thursday to discuss the tabling of the two crucial bills and agreed that they be brought to Parliament for the first reading.

That in effect means that other stakeholders would have time to read the bills and input their views as necessary before the bills are moved for debate and adoption in the second and third readings.

Mr Mnyika who is the acting leader of official opposition in Parliament said not listing the bills in the work schedule of Parliament was prove they will now not be brought under certificate of urgency.

“Usually when bills are brought to Parliament for the first time, it is not necessarily that they should be included in the schedule, therefore we believe that it will be tabled next week,’’ he noted.

When asked about the change of heart, Attorney General George Masaju said the government had accepted the appeal from media stakeholders.

He insisted, however, that the two bills would be read in the ongoing parliamentary session and that stakeholders would be given enough time to air their views.

Critics of the planned move had written to Speaker Anne Makinda asking her to intervene and advise the government and the MPs against locking out other views.

According to the new Parliament schedule which was released yesterday the two bills were axed, instead,  the office of the Clerk of the National Assembly  replaced the bills with the Electronic Transaction Bill, 2015 and The Cybercrimes Bill, 2015 respectively.