The right to participate in the electoral process of a democratic country is a basic human right as it ensures that citizens are actively involved in the decision-making processes that put leaders in place, and ultimately hold them to account.
When asked, ordinary citizens of Kinondoni in Dar es salaam said that they don’t see any use in participating in the local government elections because even if they participate they end up being disappointed. They say in most elections held in their streets money decides who becomes their leader.
The shopkeeper at Mwananyamala near Studio Daladala terminal, Shomari Shabani (21) said he has no plans to participate in any election process because, in his own view, doing so is calling for displeasure.
“I would like to participate but I find no use, “ he said. “Whoever you choose does not even fulfill the promises. All they care about is their stomachs and their relatives.”
He added that he would be motivated to participate in the electoral process if the local government leaders were at least coming up with tangible projects, and if they were controlling the ‘copy and paste culture’ of doing business.
The big challenge for this democracy remains to be the question of honesty. Many citizens claim that their leaders are corrupt and that they don’t keep their promises.
Another shopkeeper who introduced himself as Yohana Mapalilo said, “I don’t see what the local government leaders are doing. Corruption is rampant in their offices.”
The wananchi (citizens) think that there is no right way to describe their local government leaders without mentioning corruption. This is the reason they abstain from participating in the voting and election process at large.
More effort is needed to educate and to positively impact change in Tanzanian society, where citizens feel that they are powerless when it comes to deciding who should be their leader and how to hold those leaders to account.
Leonard is a recent Mass Communication graduate from St. Augustine University of Tanzania. He is currently attending a human rights reporting skills workshop in Dar es Salaam. He aspires to be a full-time human rights writer and is always available to empower the voiceless and ordinary Mwananchi (citizen) with accurate and reliable information. Leonard strongly believes that empowerment is always possible!