Charges Against Oil Officials Sent to Tanzanian Speaker

17 November 2014

Two top officials at Tanzania’s state-owned oil agency, arrested Nov. 3 on charges of failing to give requested information to parliament, have been released without charges, according to journalist Kizoto Makoye.

The two executives had declined to provide parliament with 26 oil and gas contracts the government signed with foreign and local investors, according to an article by Kizoto Makoye for the Thompson Reuters Foundation. (See previous report.)

The Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts instructed police to arrest James Andelile, acting director general of Tanzania Petroleum Development Corp (TPDC), and its board chairman Michael Mwanda.

The TPDC officials however were later released without charges pending some legal clarification from the Attorney General’s office, Makoye told Nov. 13.

“Apparently prior to the arrest, the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts was supposed to notify the Speaker (of Parliament) before making any further move towards instituting criminal charges against the officials,” according to Makoye. The chairman has made the enforcement request to the Speaker, but no action has been taken.

Makoye on Nov. 13 reported that a bill that would give the national statistical agency powers to punish journalists who publish data from unofficial sources is being redrafted following criticism it was trying to suppress freedom of speech.

The administration of President Jakaya Kikwete sought to impose prison terms or fines on those who published or aired statistical data without prior approval.

The president has promised to pass a freedom of information law by February, 2015. (See previous report.) Little action on the bill has been seen since November of 2013 at the summit of the Open Government partnership in London where he prominantly pledged passage of FOI law passage in 2014.

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