Tanzania: Civic and voter education

Extracted from: Grant Masterson 2009 "Chapter 13: Tanzania and Zanzibar" IN Denis Kadima and Susan Booysen (eds) Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa 1989-2009: 20 Years of Multiparty Democracy, EISA, Johannesburg, 536-537.

Prior to 2004, voter education was not a legally required function of the NEC [National Electoral Commission]. However, in 2004, an amendment to the Elections Act of 1985 made the NEC responsible for the coordination and implementation of a national voter education and awareness programme as part of its responsibilities during the pre-election period. Although this was made a legal requirement, the NEC was not provided with meaningful financial assistance from the government in order to implement a national voter education programme, and thus the NEC was severely constrained in its ability to conduct voter education and awareness ahead of the 2005 elections. This is not to suggest that the commission did not prioritise voter education and awareness, as this was not the case, but based on EISA interviews with key stakeholders prior to the 2005 elections, it seems as though the NEC's efforts were not particularly widespread, and did not have a significant impact on the levels of awareness of the voters (EISA 2006, 23).

As a result of the limited resources and short notice on the need for a voter education initiative that the NEC received, the majority of voter education prior to the 2005 elections was conducted by non-governmental organisations, supported through a donor-funded basket for voter education. This donor basket was coordinated by the UNDP, with the actual campaign conducted by civil society organisations (CSOs), political parties, church and other faith-based organisations and community leaders. The management of funding through the donor basket appears to have improved the coordination of the efforts of these actors; however, some stakeholders interviewed ahead of 2005 elections expressed the view that these efforts tended to be sporadic, and the majority of the campaign efforts focused on urban, high-density population areas (EISA 2006, 23).

Reference

EISA 2006 Electoral Observer Mission Report to the 2005 Zanzibar Elections [PDF document].