Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) promote citizen participation and accountability in the electoral processes through engagement with electoral authorities and its stakeholders for the enhancement of democratic governance.
This was said during the CSOs Directors Forum discussion entitled ‘The Role of Civil Society in Democratic Elections’.The event that was organized by the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) brought together CSO directors from Dar es Salaam and neighboring regions for dialogue and capacity strengthening of CSOs on democratic elections. The event took place on 7th February 2020.
The session aimed to enhance information and knowledge on election laws and processes among CSOs in the country, increase opportunities for collaboration and partnership building among CSOs, election management institutions and other election stakeholders. The session further aimed at improving CSOs’ interventions in election processes in the country.
The protection of the rights of citizens holds the key to enhancing democratic processes in an inclusive society. Today’s meeting creates space for General Election stakeholders to discuss the role of CSOs in democratic elections focusing on the upcoming General Election scheduled for October 2020. Civil society organizations support the development of democratic electorate by increasing inclusiveness, transparency, accountability as well as building public confidence in the election processes,’’ said FCS Executive Director Francis Kiwanga.
According to Mr. Kiwanga, the FCS is a long-standing supporter of civil society engagements in democratic processes in Tanzania. The FCS, he underscored, has supported CSOs to provide civic education, engagement with electoral authorities, oversight of electoral processes and enhance the inclusion of marginalized communities in elections. In the year ending 2019, we made a call for proposals for the disabled people organizations to apply for grants to strengthen the participation of people with disabilities in the 2020 General Election. FCS’s consistent engagement in this area has provided a unique experience and expertise.
The session panelists included the Director of Legal Services from the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Mr. Emmanuel Kawishe, Inspector Asali Issa from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ms. Anna Henga from the Tanzania Civil Society Consortium on Election Observation (TACCEO), the Chairperson for Tanzania Federation of Disabled People’s Organisation (mostly known in its Kiswahili acronym—SHIVYAWATA), Ms. Ummy Nderiananga and Shalika Mayunama from Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP Mtandao).
Mr. Kawishe provided an overview of the NEC’s plans for the 2020 General Election, election stakeholder’s mode of conduct, the role of CSOs in election processes in terms of civic education, election observation, and the selection criteria.
‘’The commission has completed the exercise to improve the permanent voter register in most of the regions in the country,’’ he said.
Inspector Issa discussed the police force’s role in promoting peace and participation of citizens during elections as well as ensuring the wellbeing of candidates.
TACCEO, on the other hand, discussed the role of CSOs in monitoring and observation of election processes and opportunities for local election monitoring. Lastly, SHIVYAWATA, United Nations Association (UNA) and TGNP presented their views on the participation and inclusion of people with disabilities, youth, and women in election processes.
Ms. Nderiananga called for an enabling environment that supports the participation of people with disabilities to ensure their inclusion in democratic processes.
“People with disabilities face a lot of challenges in participating in democratic processes. A conducive environment is required to enable them to take part in elections,’’ she said.