FCS enhances civic engagement in democratic governance

THE Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) has launched a programme to enhance the capacity of civil society organizations and citizens participation in democratic governance processes, including constitutional review as well as national reconciliation.

The first phase of a three-year programme from 2023-2025 dubbed ‘Uraia Wetu’ is being funded to the tune of 4.9bn/- by the European Union (EU).

FCS Executive Director, Mr Francis Kiwanga, told reporters during the project’s launch in Dar es Salaam recently that the project will help to create a better and more supportive policy framework and environment for effective civic engagement to support democratic governance in Tanzania.

“Citizens play an active role and are an essential component of democracy. This project seeks to identify available avenues and opportunities for increased civic engagement, as well as to promote freedom of expression, access to information, and freedom of assembly,” he said.

He added, “We learned during the previous constitution review process that citizens are interested in constitutional reforms, seeking increased transparency, accountability, national values, and genuine anti-corruption efforts.”

However, he said marginalised groups like women, youth, children, and people with disabilities face difficulties when civic space is constrained because they lack the venues to express their concerns.

FCS is an independent Tanzanian not-for-profit development organisation that provides grants and capacity-building services to CSOs in the country. Since its inception 20 years ago has enabled CSOs to be a catalyst for development and for citizens to be at the forefront of strengthening democratic governance in Tanzania.

As part of the project’s implementation, FCS has issued the 4,9bn/- in sub-grants to 12 CSOs in both Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar to undertake activities that will contribute to the realisation of the project’s objectives.

During the event, they also signed contracts with three CSOs including Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), Jukwaa la Katiba Tanzania (JUKATA) and Tanzania Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (TANGO).

According to him, the CSOs will take part in providing education to communities on citizen participation in writing the new Constitution and building national cohesion.

According to Mr Kiwanga, FCS believes that when grassroots civil society is strengthened and given appropriate spaces to play its roles effectively, citizens will be aware of and exercise their rights.

He further said FCS aims to ensure that people are empowered and responsible and that they have access to basic economic and societal rights that will improve their lives.

“The EU-funded project will also help CSOs improve their ability to engage effectively with the government and other key development actors. CSOs will be able to play their roles more effectively and engage with the government to influence change with increased capabilities,” Mr Kiwanga said.

TLS Programmes Manager, Mr Mack Mshana, expressed gratitude for the chance to ensure that more people are aware of the various laws pertaining to the constitution and elections, as well as their meaningful participation in them.

JUKATA Executive Director, Mr Bob wangwe said their role in the project is to educate CSOs and citizens on how they can participate in the process to rewrite the Constitution.

Last week, President Samia Suluhu Hassan gave Judge Francis Mutungi, the Registrar of Political Parties, an order to call a special meeting of the Political Parties Council, in order to assess implementation of the Task Force’s recommendations for evaluating the political climate and multipartysm in the nation.

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