The minister for Health Ummy Mwalimu early this week assured stakeholders that the government will do everything possible to create a better enabling environment for civil society organisations (CSOs). “We definitely need more civil society organisations to assist the government in areas such as health, education, water and the environment so that they can work directly with the people at the grassroots in achieving sustainable development,” Ms Mwalimu noted. The occasion was the CSO Week marked this this year in the political capital, Dodoma.
Ms Mwalimu’s reassurance to the civil society organisations could not come at a better time. In the past few years there have been endless complaints, from activists, of interference in their duties and of intimidation. Some of them have expressed concerns that they are being personally harassed over what could be connected to their work as activists.
And so let’s hope that Ms Mwalimu’s pronouncements represent the government’s renewed commitment and realization of the importance of CSOs. But is it high time the government also appreciated the fact that in addition to complimenting its duty of social service delivery CSOs are also better equipped to point out policy issues that the government can pick and work on.
CSOs are also many a times better placed to voice out people’s concerns on service delivery through the surveys and researches that they conduct. The most important thing, for the two partners to work together, is to build trust and create the environment of transparency.