Speaking to reporters in Dar es Salaam ahead of the civic polls in November and general elections next year, executives of the CSOs cited recent amendments in various laws including the passing of the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) No. 3 Bill of 2019 in June which among other things restricts the registration and operations of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as a setback to Tanzania’s civil liberties and freedoms.
The CSOs gave the report card based on the manifesto they unveiled before the 2015 general elections, ahead of the launch of a new CSOs manifesto before the civic polls and the general elections later.
Onesmo Olengurumwa, the country coordinator for the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) said that the CSOs Election Manifesto 2019/20 shall be unveiled with the slogan ‘The kind of Tanzania we need.’
“The second CSOs Election Manifesto purposely targets at giving guidelines on how political parties, the National Elections Commission, politicians, the security forces, the government itself, CSOs and citizens in general in what manner they should conduct themselves in elections,” he said.
“We want elections that can lead to positive results by politicians’ adoption of their voters’ priorities economically, socially and politically,” the coordinator said.
He said the new manifesto contains ten areas of priority that carry forward some of the priories of the 2014/15 manifesto like adoption of a new constitution.
CSOs play a key role when it comes to setting public awareness on civil liberties, encouraging voters’ registration and preparation of reports and monitoring the polls process, he stated.
Deus Kibamba, executive director for the Tanzania Citizens Information Bureau, said that for the past 50 years CSOs have been contributing much on defending civil liberties, offering social services and legal assistance to common people.
“Civil society organisations have been also offering awareness campaigns upon voters during local government and general elections and have been monitoring elections. The main purpose of the manifesto is to help Tanzanians identify their priorities and thus elect representatives who can serve them well,” the director noted.
He said the manifesto is intended at helping political parties prepare their own party manifestos in line with the citizens’ priorities. The manifesto will also help the party and elected representatives obtaining seats in the coming general elections “understand the social, democratic and economic demands of the public.”
The manifesto also contains guidelines for the CSOs themselves, that they need to comply with in their monitoring activities during elections, he stated.
Clemence Mwombeki, he managing director for Door of Hope Tanzania, said that the2014/15 CSOs Election Manifesto had priorities that covered national economy policy, tabling and passing of the new constitution draft, safeguarding of public goods, good governance and human rights.
“There have been improvements in the past four years in the health sector and education, with the introduction of free primary and ordinary level education as we proposed in the 2014/15 Manifesto. There are also improvements in protection and safeguarding of public goods and implementation of major projects,” he elaborated.
On the other hand draconian laws have been introduced that pose restrictions to press freedom and online services providers, the activist underlined.