Civil Society and Public Accountability in Tanzania

John Jingu


This article discusses the factors behind the dismal performance of civil society organizations (CSOs) in promoting public accountability in Tanzania. CSOs should play an effective watchdog function over the activities of the state in defence of public interests. In Tanzania, attempts by CSOs to fulfil this role have not yielded significant results.  This article argues that existing authoritarian tendencies of the state - due to its semi-democratic nature - constitute a major factor hindering the ability of CSOs to promote public accountability in an effective manner. Two indicators were used to measure the authoritarian tendencies of the state. First is the existence of laws, which inhibit the smooth operation of civil society. Second is the existence of arbitrary repressive behaviour by state agents towards people who cast the state in a bad light.  These indicators show that the state in Tanzania views CSOs with caution, suspicion, and hostility.

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