Democratization and Public Accountability at the Grassroots in Tanzania: A Missing Link

by Matrona Kabyemela

Abstract

Democratization processes in most developing countries like Tanzania generate concern as to the extent to which they promote public accountability at the grassroots. Although there have been various interventions to improve governance at the national and grassroots level, little is known about citizens’ ability to hold accountable their village government resulting from such interventions. This article argues that despite the democratization process that started in 1992 in Tanzania, citizens at the grassroots are still structurally and politically disempowered to hold their village government accountable. This is due to poor legal provisions and regulations guiding the functioning of village government and a poor information flow between village government and citizens, the low level of civic competency, and the poor participation of citizens in the decision-making process. This article draws draw on data that was collected in 2010 from the Kagera region utilizing interviews, questionnaires, observation, and documentary review. The sample size of the study was 120 respondents.

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Matrona Kabyemela is Assistant Lecturer, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Dar es Salaam. She is engaged in consultancy, research and teaching public administration. Her interest is on grassroots governance, democracy and public policy issues. Currently she is undertaking her PhD with a focus on health services delivery at the local level through traditional medicine.