…Stands firm by its access denied report
By Hilary Mare
THE Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has rubbished claims by former Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tjekero Tweya, that its recently published Access Denied report was “devoid of any truth” coupled with claims the IPPR has a “malicious agenda”.
Graham Hopwood, IPPR Executive Director last week bemoaned Tweya’s comments as disappointing as he chose to issue a blanket condemnation of the Access Denied report.
Tweya was last Thursday moved to the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and SME Development in President Hage Geingob’s first cabinet reshuffle.
“The IPPR’s researchers hand delivered information requests to 20 ministries. All the requests were addressed to the relevant permanent secretaries. It is difficult to accept the Minister’s argument that the information requests should not have been sent to the Permanent Secretaries but rather to the Public Relations Officers in each Ministry and that this somehow resulted in the high number of non-responses.
“It is concerning if the offices of Permanent Secretaries are not capable of passing on information requests to the ministry PROs or other relevant officials. Follow-up phone calls and emails were also made to the Permanent Secretaries’ offices. In addition, the IPPR chose to address the information requests to Permanent Secretaries because in the past we have been told by Ministry PROs and other officials that requests for information should be sent first to the Permanent Secretaries’ offices. Our colleagues in the media have also confirmed that this is often the response from PROs and other government officials,” said Hopwood.
The report titled Access Denied was aimed at determining to what extent various ministries, SOEs and regions would respond with specific information requested by the researchers.
The report findings are that 80 percent of all organisations could not provide the public information requested.
It further reveals that 85 percent of the public enterprises were unresponsive while only one region, Erongo managed to provide the requested information.
Following its release, Tweya called for a press conference to express his dismay and went an extra mile in a bid to prove IPPR wrong.
“As a minister mandated to ensure that the citizens have unfettered access to government information, I was shocked by the findings of the report, as I was at the forefront of introducing mechanisms in place that will make information easily accessible to the public,” said Tweya.
The minister said, in a bid to test the credibility of the Access Denied Report, he knocked at the door of each ministry to find out whether they had been approached at all by the IPPR or not and why they had with-held public information.
The findings show that 80 percent of the information requested was in the public domain and easily accessible while most was available on websites of government offices, ministries and agencies, he said.
“Therefore, it is disheartening for a reputable research institution such as IPPR to misinform the public in such a manner,” extended Tweya.
In response to this Hopwood said: “The IPPR’s researchers had checked official websites to see if the requested information was already available on line. It would be helpful if the MICT could list the URLs where all this information is available. It should also be pointed out that the requests made by the IPPR were carefully chosen to be non-controversial so that there was no question of responses being denied on grounds of ‘security’”.
.Hopwood highlighted that the Minister also claimed that IPPR “came short of providing a list of names of those officials they have contacted” to the Ministry after the launch of the report on December 5 last year. Again the Minister claimed “the IPPR research team promised to provide MICT with the names of the so-called public servants whom they contacted, but could not submit such list.”
“It has to be pointed out that after the report was launched, the MICT contacted the IPPR for further information on the officials who had been approached for information on December. It was made clear at the launch and then to the MICT that the approaches had been made to Permanent Secretaries. The IPPR sent a table listing officials who had been contacted during follow-up calls and emails to MICT on Wednesday December 13.
The MICT official who had been requesting the information responded via email later on December 13 by saying ‘Thanks a million’. There was no further response from the Ministry saying that the information provided was inadequate in any way,” he said.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015