Making Political Parties Relevant in the Democratization Process in Tanzania

Athumani J. Liviga


This article posits that it is absurd to suggest that political parties are no longer indispensable to modern democracies. It starts by rebutting the four main propositions that support the assertion that political parties are no longer indispensable for the consolidation and sustenance of democracy. The article proposes that rather than being irrelevant to the democratization process, political parties in countries undergoing a political transition face specific challenges. Taking Tanzanian political parties as a case in point, the article outlines the challenges facing political parties to include the need to play an effective role in the oversight of the electoral process; providing space for vulnerable groups to participate in politics; incorporating civil society organizations in the democratization process; ensuring a free media; institutionalizing good governance and making themselves relevant by ensuring that the substantive dimensions of democracy are as important as its procedural ones.

Full Text:



Abootalebi, Ali R., 1998, “Civil Society, Democracy, and the Middle East” in Middle East Review of International Affairs, 2, 3. Also available at:

Agyeman, Opoku, 2000, Africa’s Persistent Vulnerable Link to Global Politics (San Jose, New York, Lincoln and Shanghai: University Press).

Ake, C., 1993, “The Unique Case of African Democracy”, International Affairs, 69, 2.

Bartolini, S. and P. Mair, 2001, “Challenges to Contemporary Political Parties” in Larry Diamond and Richard Gunter, eds, Political Parties and Democracy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press).

Bari, F., 2005, “Women’s Political Participation: Issues and Challenges”, UN Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW).

Basedau, M., G. Erdmann, and A. Mehler, 2007, Votes, Money and Violence: Political Parties and Elections in Sub-Saharan Africa (Uppsala: Nordic African Institute).

Blaauw, L. 2007, “Measuring the Support for Democracy in Namibia: Intrinsic or Instrumental?” Journal of African Elections, 6, 1, pp. 189-202.

Bratton, M. and R. Mattes, 2001, “Support for Democracy in Africa: Intrinsic or Instrumental”, British Journal of Political Science, 31.

Brinkerhoff, D. W. and A. A. Goldsmith, 2001, “Macroeconomic Policy, PRSPs, and Participation”, World Bank paper, available at

Bollen, Kenneth A. and Robert W. Jackman, 1985, “A Political Democracy and the Size Distribution of Income” American Sociological Review, 50, pp 438-57.

Cilliers, J., 2004, “Human Security in Africa, A Conceptual Framework, Africa Human Security Initiative”, available at

Cilliers, J., 2002, “Peace, Security and Democracy in Africa? A Summary of Outcomes from the 2002 OAU/AU Summits in Durban”, Institute for Security Studies, Issue Paper 60.

Dahl, Robert, 1976, Modern Political Analysis (Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice Hall).

_____ 1961, Who Governs (New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press).

Fox, J., 2000, “Civil Society and Political Accountability: Propositions for Discussion” Paper presented at a Conference on Institutions, Accountability and Democratic Governance in Latin America, University of Notre Dame, May 8-9.

Government of Zanzibar, 1997, “The Zanzibar Broadcasting Commission Act”, Government Printer.

_____ (1995), “The Societies Act”, Government Printer.

_____ (1988), “The Registration of News Agents, Newspapers and Books Act”, Government Printer.

Greider, W., 1992, Who Will Tell the People (New York: Simon and Schuster).

Klitgaard, Robert, 1998, “International Cooperation against Corruption”, World Bank/IMF, Finance and Development, pp 3-6.

Lipset, Martin S., 1959, Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics (Garden City, New York: Doubleday).

Liviga, A. J. and B. Killian, forthcoming, “Study on Capacity Needs Assessment of Women and Youth Politicians”, mimeo.

Makaramba, R., 2007, “The Legal Context of Non-profit Sector in Tanzania” in Laurean Ndumbaro, L, and Said Yahya-Othman eds, 2007, The Third Sector in Tanzania: Capabilities and Challenges of

Civil Society Organizations (Aga Khan Development Network/University of Dar es Salaam). Maliyamkono, T., 2004 , When Political Parties Clash (Tanzania: Tema Publishers).

Mapanje, J., 1981, Of Chameleons and Gods (London: Heinemann).

Meena, R., 1997, “Gender Difference in Political Orientation” in S. Mushi et al eds, Tanzania’s Political Culture: A Baseline Survey (Dar es Salaam: Dar es Salaam University Press).

Mhina, A., 2007, “The Impact of the Non-Profit Sector in Tanzania” in Laurean Ndumbaro and Said Yahya-Othman eds, The Third Sector in Tanzania: Capabilities and Challenges of Civil Society Organizations (Aga Khan Development Network/University of Dar es Salaam).

Moyo, B., 2007, “Peace and Security for Democracy and Development in SubSaharan Africa”, paper presented a a Conference on Fifty Years of SubSaharan African Independence and the Role of Political Parties: Promise, Decline and Resurgence, Golden Tulip Hotel, Accra Ghana, 4th – 5th May.

_____ 2006, “The Crisis of Governance and Parliamentary Democracy in Africa: A Cultural Perspective” in African Renaissance, 3, 6, pp 25-35.

Muller, Edward N., 1985, “A Dependent Economic Development, Aid Dependence on The United States, and Democratic Breakdown in the Third World”, International Studies Quarterly, 29, pp 445-69.

Mutesa, Fredrick and Wilma Nchito, 2005, “Human security, popular participation and Poverty”, in Keith Muloongo, et al eds, The Many Faces of Human Security (South Africa: Institute for Security Studies).

Norris, P., 2004, “Building Political Parties: Reforming Legal Regulations and Internal Rules” Harvard University, International IDEA.

O’Donnell, G. 1999, “Horizontal Accountability in New Democracies” in Andreas Schedler, Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner eds, The SelfRestraining State: Power and Accountability in New Democracies (Boulder: Lynne Reinner).

Polsby, Nelson W., 1980, “The News Media as an Alternative to Party in the Presidential Selection Process”, in Robert A. Goldwin ed, Political Parties in the Eighties (Washington D. C.: American Enterprise Institute Press).

Pritchet, L. and D. Kaufman, 1998, “Civil Liberties, Democracy, and the Performance of Government Projects” in Finance and Development, March.

Rustow, Dankwart A., 1970, “A Transition to Democracy: Toward a Dynamic Model” Comparative Politics, 2, pp 337-63.

Schattschneider, E. E., 1965, “In Defense of Political Parties”, in John R. Owens and P. J. Staudenraus eds, American Party Systems (New York: MacMillan).

______ 1942, Party Government (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston).

Schmitter, P. C., 2001, “Parties are Not What They Once Were”, in Larry Diamond and R. Gunther eds, Political Parties and Democracy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press).

Salih, Mohamed M. A., 2005, African Parliaments: Between Governance and Government (New York: Palgrave Macmillan and Cape Town: Human Science Research Council Press).

Schlesinger Jr., Arthur M., 1984, “The Crisis of the American Party System”, Richard M. McCormick ed, Political Parties and the Modern State (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press).

Suttner, R., 2004, “Transformation of Political Parties in Africa Today”, Transformation: Critical Perspectives in Southern Africa, 55, pp 1-27.

Thomson, A., 2004, “Taking Stock: Ongoing Obstacles to the Consolidation of Multiparty Democracy in Africa”, The African Review, 31, 1&2, pp 1-17.

UNDP (United Nations Development Program), 2004, Human Development Report (Oxford University Press: New York).

URT, 2006, Report of the National Electoral Commission on the 2005 Presidential, Parliamentary and Councillors’ Elections (Dar es Salaam: Government Printer).

_____ 2002, Annual Report of the State of Corruption in Tanzania-2002 (Government Printer: Dar es Salaam).

_____ 1996, Report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry against Corruption, Government Printer, Dar es Salaam.

_____ 1993, “Tanzania Broadcasting Services Act”, Dar es Salaam, Government Printer.

_____ 1976, “Tanzania Newspaper Act”, Dar es Salaam, Government Printer.

_____ 1954, “Tanzania Societies Ordinance”, Dar es Salaam, Government Printer.

USAID, 1999, Political Party Development Assistance (Washington DC: Office of Democracy and Governance).

_____ 1998, “Democracy and Governance: A Conceptual Framework”, Washington DC: Center for Democracy and Governance, Bureau for Global Programs, Field Support and Research.

Van de Walle, N., 2002, “Elections without Democracy: Africa’s Range of Regimes”, Journal of Democracy, 13, 3.

Ware, A., 1996, Political Party Systems (New York: Oxford University Press).

Weiss, M., 2005, “Prickly Ambivalence: State, Society and Semidemocracy in Malaysia” The Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, 43, 1, pp 61-81.

White, John K., 1992, “Mandates without Parties”, in John Kenneth White et al eds, Challenges to Party Government (Carbondale Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press)

Wiseman, John A., 1996, New Struggle for Democracy in Africa (Aldershot: Avebary).

World Bank, 1998, Support to the Government of Tanzania’s AntiCorruption Program Poverty Reduction and Social Development Unit, October.

Zeleke, T., 2005, “The Political Participation of Women in Ethiopia”, Ethiopia Women Lawyers Association.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

 [ISSN 0856-0056 (Print) & ISSN 1821-889X (Online)]