Despite the country’s progress in democracy and good governance most people still lack civic education; as a result they fail to exercise their democratic right to participate in different elections, a local lawyer has observed.
Francis Stolla, President of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), told the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday that inadequate civic education was reason for low turnout of voters during last year’s general elections.
He explained that the country had registered notable strides on democracy and good governance, but still most people were unaware of their essential constitutional rights like participating effectively in polls.
Stolla underscored a need to improve civic education among the people with a view to enabling them know their rights. “The government is to blame for poor turn out of people in last year’s general elections, its provision of civic education was not enough especially in rural areas,” he said.
According to him, democracy in the country was being hindered by few things including lack of patriotism and people’s participation in issues of national interest.
Stolla challenged leaders to adopt a positive perception towards people and civil society organisations confronting the government on multi-sectoral issues instead of treating them as opponents.
Earlier, Harold Sungusia from Legal and Human Rights Center (LHRC) hailed the government for facilitating elections fairly, with exception of few disparities.
The lawyer also hailed the government for adopting the multiparty system, but cited the issue of private candidates among the factors hindering democracy that need to be addressed.
He blamed the problem of lack of civic education among the majority of people on failure of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to perform one of its principle duties of enlightening the public about polls, including participating in them.
The meeting, which was organised by the LHRC, brought together representatives from NGOs, the government and CSOs.
According to Sungusia, APRM is among the best ways of evaluating the country’s performance on different development arenas, citing Mauritius and South Africa which have made good progress through self evaluation.