The Tanzanian parliament recently passed a Statistics Act, which introduces some radical changes to the law on generating and communicating statistics. The Act has potentially very significant implications for anyone working with statistics in Tanzania, such as those in research institutions, the media and civil society, including Twaweza.
Twaweza has conducted a rapid analysis of the new law, identifying key challenges and questions.
This based on the bill as posted on the parliamentary website and a schedule of amendments dated November 2014. The final version of the bill as passed by parliament may be different, but is not yet available.
The bill raises the following concerns, which are each discussed in more detail in the paper:
- It introduces uncertainty in terms of who is allowed to generate statistics and what authorisation is required.
- The rules around the dissemination of survey micro-data are unnecessarily restrictive. Further, they appear to be inconsistent with principles of open government and open data.
- The bill includes obstacles to whistleblowing without any public interest protections.
- The bill introduces severe restrictions on the publication or communication of any contentious statistical information. It makes it illegal (i) to publish or communicate “false” statistical information, and (ii) to publish or communicate statistical information that “may result in the distortion of facts”. This ignores the fact that disputes around statistics are an essential part of academic and policy debates, and appears to require those producing or publishing statistics to get prior approval from NBS. Further, there are no protections in these cases for acting in good faith.
- Penalties for those found guilty of offences under the bill are severe, indeed unlimited.
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