Democratic Process and Practices | General Studies

Ballot box

Democracy is the government in which the highest power is held by the people.

Historical development of democracy

Democracy originated in Greece in the city of Athens in the 6th century B.C. People exercised power directly to the government. They were making decisions and opinions together.

Process of democratization in Tanzania

Before colonialism, Tanzania was ruled by kings. For example, Mkwawa ruled the Hehe and Milambo ruled the Nyamwezi. When the colonists invaded Tanzania, they established democracy and many political parties were formed. Among the parties formed were TANU, AMNUT and UTP. It was in 1965, when Tanzania banned all political party, only remained TANU. But in 1992, Tanzania restored multi-party system. Political Parties such as CCM, CUF and NCCR-MAGEUZI were formed and participated in the 1995 General Election.

Role of the government in democratic process

1. Educating citizens about democracy

Government educate people about democracy. Also, it motivate them to run for political leadership positions during general election.

2. Inclusion of bill of rights in the constitution

Bill of rights ensures the rights of people, equality before the law and freedom of expression, all of this are elements of democracy.

3. Enhance freedom of press

For democracy to flourish, all media must be free, which means that people are free to talk. The media has the potential to promote democracy by allowing different ideas and opinions from different sources. For example, with freedom of press, political parties such as CHADEMA, CUF, ACT, CHAUMMA and others will give their opinion and facts and this will promote democracy.

4. Protects individual rights

Government protects individual rights so that citizens in a democracy can undertake their civic obligations and responsibilities, thereby strengthening the society as a whole.

5. Make commitment to its people and international communities to improve democratic process in the country

Commitment will make people and the world at large believe that Tanzania is a democratic country, it will remain to the government leaders to prove the level of democracy in their country.

6. Promote peace and security

A peaceful country makes people have confidence to express their views. For example, because Tanzania is a peaceful country, people are free to express their views, sometimes there are incidence when people are being kidnapped because of political differences, and this is bad as it destroy the image of our country.

Effect of abuse of power in a democratic society

Abuse of power is the misuse of a position of power to take unjust advantage of individuals, organizations, or governments. Additionally, a leader can abuse power by torturing or killing people for any reasons and using public fund for personal gains, to mention but a few. The following are the effects of abuse of power in a democratic society:

1. Rebellion

Abuse of power causes people to rebel because they are tired of the persecution of their leaders. So they decides to seek an alternative way as a solution, this end up in formation of rebel groups. For example, because of the abuse of power, we see rebel forces in Congo, Somalia and Nigeria.

2. Underdevelopment

When a leader spends public money for his own benefit, the country cannot achieve development. For instance, when a leader misuse public money intended to build a school, education will be at stake.

3. Exploitation

High percentage of government money comes from the citizens as they pay taxes. When those money are misused, it is exploitation of the citizens who paid tax through hard work.

4. Corruption

There are leaders who are corrupt, for example, they use public fund for personal gains, and employ people based on ethnicity, religion or relatives.

5. Creates ills feelings among political opponents

Kidnaping and killing political opponents, creates ills feeling. Many political opponents due to fear, stop giving their opinions so as a result leaders do what they wish.

6. Assassination of leaders

In some cases leaders who abuse power may be assassinated. The consequences of abuse of power are enormous and that’s the reason many leaders are advised against the abuse of power.

The roles and responsibilities of individual citizens in a democratic society

1. Active participation in the community development

A citizen ought to be active in activities such as agricultural activities and others.

2. Participation in prevention of crime and reporting

Citizens has the role and responsibility of providing great cooperation to the forces such as police in order to deal effectively with any social crime in the society.

3. Timely payment of taxes

Citizens are required to pay taxes to support the development of their country. Tax paid, helps in providing various social services such as roads, electricity, water and education.

4. Respect of the law

Its citizen’s responsibility to respect all laws in the country. Respecting laws make the country peaceful.

5. Respect others rights

Citizens are responsible to respect human rights. These are: right to life, right to own property, freedom of assembly and freedom of press.

6. Participating in political matters

Citizens cannot avoid politics in their country due to the fact that politics run everything. So it’s better to participate in political matters to make sure that good leaders are chosen. Imagine, citizens standing in political meetings and joining political organization.

Effects of neglecting individual roles and responsibilities in a democratic society

-      Poor community development.

-      Increase of crime.

-      Tax evasion. Whereby people avoid paying tax.

-      Violation of the law.

-      Abuse of human rights.

-      Lack of participation in political matters.

The practice of human rights in Tanzania

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 during its 183rd plenary meeting. This declaration has been implemented well in several states in the world including Tanzania.

In 1984, the Tanzania Constitution was amended to include a bill of rights which contains 21 articles which stipulate the right and duties of a citizen. Through inclusion of a bill of rights, all Tanzanians are guaranteed equal rights.

Development of human rights in Tanzania

Development of human rights in Tanzania is traced by looking at the three phases:

Pre-colonial phase

During this phase, African cultures respected human rights. For instance, there was a sense of collective rights and right to elders to be respected by children.

Colonial phase

During colonial phase, human rights never respected. Africans suffered from human right abuse like, exploitation, racial segregation and being killed by Europeans. Colonial era was a lost period of human rights in Tanzania.

Post-colonial phase

This phase is informed by three constitutional development:

In 1961 Tanzania attained her independence. However, the independence constitution of 1961 did not have the bill of human rights although this does not mean that there was no negotiation to include bill of rights in the constitution. At that particular time, the constitution intended to defend the British. So Mwalimu Nyerere, the then prime minister was against the introduction of the bill of rights because it could be one sided and not for Tanganyika.

The republic constitution of 1962 on the other hand, included the appendages of the independence constitution. However, the introduction of bill of rights was not advocated for because of fear that it could lead to division among people of a newly independent state. Focus was on nation building.

The interim constitution of 1965 made Tanzania a one party state and there was a debate whether a bill of rights should be introduced but following the supremacy of the party, the bill of rights was not included in the constitution, instead human rights were only mentioned in the preamble which is not legally binding.

The permanent constitution of 1977 did not introduce the bill of rights but only remained stated in the preamble. It was until 1984 when the bill of rights was introduced in the constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania. This is always referred to as an important milestone to the development of human rights in Tanzania.

The role of individuals and government in enhancing human rights in Tanzania

1. Preventing crime and reporting to the appropriate authority.

2. Providing education to the public on the negative impact of violation of human rights.

3. Promotion of good governance and rule of law. All people should be equal before the law.

4. Government has to prevent killings to innocent people.

5. Parliament has to pass laws that prohibit all traditional practices which hinder promotion of human rights in the society such as: female genital mutilation, wife battering, forced marriage and others.

6. Strict measures have to be taken by the government in laying down strategies to curb down corruption.

Additional notes

Functions of political party

-      A political party contests elections by putting up candidates.

-      They give a direction to the policies adopted by the government.

-      They criticize the government for their failures.

-      Political parties shape public opinion. With the help of the pressure groups, the parties launch movements for solving problems faced by the people.

-      A political party can form government, especially the party that won general election. For example CCM political party is the party which form government in Tanzania.

-      Political party educate people about different political matters and human rights.

Human rights abuse in Tanzania

Human right abuse is the violation of the basic rights of people by treating them wrongly.

How human rights abuse is experienced in Tanzania

Bad traditional practice such as female genital mutilation.

Killing of old people (women) with red eyes in place like Shinyanga and Mwanza.

Extra judicial killings. An extrajudicial killing is the killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process, other than in lawful military and police operations. They often target political, trade union, dissident, religious and social figures. For example, people who criticize government can be killed.

Mob violence. Mob violence occurs when a group of people or part of the community decide to punish those suspected to commit wrongs in the community. For example, people can stone a thief to death.

Political violence. For example, in January 27th 2001, Pemba clashes between government police and CUF supporters. About 31 people were killed, 294 injured and nearly 2000 people took flight into exile in Mombasa Kenya.

Forceful eviction, which is the permanent or temporary removal against their will of individuals, families and/or communities from the homes and/or land which they occupy.

Forced marriage.

Cruelty against children.

Corruption.

Weak justice system.

Revision Questions

1. Analyse six features which show that Tanzania upholds the rule of law.

2. Explain any six obstacles for democratization process in Africa.

3. “In order to survive in a political system, the political parties must perform some basic roles.” In the light of this quotation, evaluate six functions of political parties.

4. Describe six reasons for the people to vote in an election.

5. Assess how human rights abuse is experienced in Tanzania. Give six points.

6. Describe six major functions of the Tanzania Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance.

7. Why do people vote for their leaders? Explain by giving six points.

8. Examine six principles of democracy which are practiced in Tanzania.

9. In nine points, explain the basic rights and freedoms of citizens in Tanzania.

10. Describe the contributions of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to the promotion and protection of human rights in Tanzania (give six points).

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