CSOs claim been locked out of polls

Sunday November 17 2019

Permanent Secretary in the President’s Office,

Permanent Secretary in the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government, MrJoseph Nyamuhanga, speaks during a press conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday. He said civic polls will be held as planned. PHOTO | BAKARI KIANGO 

By Frank Kimboy @frankkimboy fkimboy@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) national coordinator Onesmo Olengurumwa and Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) former executive director Judith Odunga said yesterday that most CSOs have been locked out of the electoral process after they were denied accreditation to monitor or observe the upcoming civic elections.

According to them, only four organisations have been cleared to provide voter education ahead of the controversial elections scheduled to take place next Sunday, November 24, this year.

“As we are heading towards the local government elections and General Election in 2020, the Coalition has observed unprecedented rise in challenges affecting CSOs as they try to conduct their usual activities in election preparedness.

“Some of these challenges include difficulties and cumbersome procedures for CSOs to secure accreditation from relevant authorities for provision of voter education, monitoring and observation of elections,” said Mr Olengurumwa.

The TDHRC coordinator revealed that a survey conducted by the coalition established that out of 86 CSOs which have been interviewed, 18 organizations applied for accreditation from the Presidents’ Office, Regional Administration and Local Government in order to provide voter education but only four have secured the relevant permits.

He further added that out of 86 CSOs, 14 organisations applied for accreditation for election monitoring and observation but only two have been accredited to do so in the forthcoming elections.

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In his speech, Mr Olengungurumwa, however neither named the organizations, which were denied nor those which were accredited and The Citizen could not immediately establish the details by the time of filing this report.

Another challenge for the CSOs participation in elections has been lack of funds for them to take part effectively by conducting required activities, they said.

Mr Olengurumwa pointed out that of the 86 organisations that were reached by the survey, only four organizations said they have secured required funds from partners for provision of voters’ education and only six have obtained funds for election monitoring and observation.

Meanwhile the Human rights defenders issued the recently launched code of conduct that would guide CSOs during elections and other democratic processes .

The guide is to help the organisations navigate challenges they have recently faced.

Speaking during the event, Dr Odunga, who was the chief guest, said that in most of the elections held previously, most of the human right defenders and CSOs officials found themselves in trouble from the authorities.

Dr Odunga said it was her hope that the regulations would cone in handy.

Dr Odunga advised the CSOs to be professional and act above board in situations and challenges ahead of them.

“So often we (activists) have been accused of leaning toward some political parties but I am sure with these regulations that perception will change and we shall be understood,” said Dr Odunga.