The Tanzanian government is threatening legal action against Twaweza, a research outfit which recently unveiled findings that President John Magufuli’s popularity had dropped significantly.
Twaweza is being accused of conducting the research without a permit.
Article 37(2) of the controversial Statistic Act (2015) prescribes a fine of up to $878 (Sh2,000,000) or imprisonment of not less than six months or both to a person who would publish or possess statistical information that the law deems unauthorised for publication.
In a letter to the Executive Director of Twaweza dated July 9, the acting Director-General of the Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), Dr Amos Nungu, said the not-for-profit organisation had not applied to the commission to conduct the research. It has thus been given seven days to show cause why appropriate action should not be taken against it.
The commission is an apex body and adviser to the government on all matters related to science, technology and research as per COSTECH Act No 7 of 1986 (Cap 226 revised 2002).
“COSTECH database shows that previously TWAWEZA applied for research clearance for four projects, one of which is completed and three are ongoing,” Dr Nungu said in the letter.
He, however, noted that the commission did not have any record of granting to the NGO a permit or pending application to that effect.
The Twaweza survey; The Voice of Citizens, showed that President Magufuli’s popularity had dropped significantly, just over two and half years into his presidency.
Findings based on data collected from 1,241 respondents across Mainland Tanzania released last week, said the majority of citizens felt they had less freedom now than three years ago when President Magufuli came to power.
According to the survey, 64 per cent of citizens felt that freedom for political parties to hold rallies had been diminished and 62 per cent believed that the media too was intimidated to criticise the government and hold it accountable. Well above half of the citizens (54 per cent) felt not free to air their political views
While 55 per cent of respondents endorsed President Magufuli’s performance, on the question of political leanings, 58 per cent said they were affiliated to the ruling Chama Cha Mapunduzi (CCM), whose national chairman is the president, while only 16 per cent said they were attached to the main opposition CHADEMA. Only 24 per cent were affiliated to other political parties out of 18 registered in the country.
When the same question was asked in 2012, CCM attracted a following of 65 per cent while CHADEMA got 26 per cent, with 4 per cent going to other parties.
Last year, CCM got 63 per cent of support and CHADEMA 17 per cent.