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Institutional Transparency – disappointing value for money

Theoretically, there is Access to Information (ATI) since the Act was passed into law by the Tanzanian parliament on September 7, 2016. And Tanzanians seem to be strong supporters: 77% of citizens believe that ordinary citizens should have access to information held by the government, 80% of citizens believe that corruption and other wrongdoing would be reduced if citizens had more access to information, and half of the population would be interested in having more information from the government about different sectors and services.

How well does ATI really work in practice? We did a test run and officially requested ownership information at BRELA. This has cost time and money, as you can see below. Additionally, we received only scarce ownership information from TCRA and MAELEZO. Available data was often contradictory and overall of bad quality.

What are the reasons? 

Of course, these are only observations made during the several visits at the Agency. The challenges were noted during the perusal of files at BRELA:

  1. Poor files management system: responsible BRELA officers failed to discern where the requested files were stowed. Some of the officers were not serious on their routine on the required.
  2. Manpower crunch:  Only two officers were placed on the perusal room to serve a number of customers who went to BRELA for perusal. Also, the responsible officers were overwhelmed with the number of daily online applications – so replies were often sent delayed.
  3. Honestly and Unethical conduct: some of the officers seemed not willing to provide services on time unless they got some bribe from their customers (not from us).
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