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Local governments are political and administrative agents through which development of towns, district, municipals and cities can be obtained.

Short history of the development of Local Authorities in Tanzania

The local government system in Tanzania has had a long history. The early forms of local self-government were based on chiefdoms and sub-chiefdoms, and following colonization, the British local government model of indirect rule was adopted. In the post-colonial era the local government system, starved of resources, was unable to deliver adequate services to the people.

In 1972 local governments were abolished in favour of a more centralized system of government (Through the Decentralization by deconcentrating process). Central government and ministries were put in charge of the administration of basic government services at the local level, including primary education and health care. However, the delivery of public services actually deteriorated under this system of deconcentrating and local government were re-introduced by the Local government Acts of 1982.

While local Government Authorities were technically reintroduced in mainland Tanzania in 1984, the system was a top-down modality and local governments were tightly constrained by central government. In addition local government had lost many of its senior management and technical staff.

Central government ministries, through their regional administrative offices, were delegated strong power to continue to direct almost all aspects of the affairs of local government.

Structure of Local Government System in Tanzania

The structure of local government system can be analyzed by showing the following interlinked system. Key structures are briefly shown. A detailed analysis of the structure showing how local government structure is linked to the Central Government is also presented.

i. Prime Minister’s office

Responsibilities of Prime Minister’s officer include the following

To guide and oversee the delivery of primary education by local Government Authorities (LGAs)

To provide strategic leadership and technical support to council education offices.

To support and build the capacity of Regional Secretariat (RS) and Local Government Authorities.

To ensure that councils prepare consolidated education development plans that conform to government development goals, education policy and assurance standards.

To consolidate council plans and budgets into national Plans of action which will provide the basis for the approval and transfer of funds

To collaborate with the Ministry of education and Vocational Training in order to monitor, review and evaluate outputs and programs of education plans.

To communicate education information to all system levels and interested stakeholders.

To produce regular financial and physical report to the Ministry of Finance

To collaborate with other agencies in the education sector in planning and specifying national service delivery standards for primary education.

To technically support Local government Authorities in planning and implementing primary education programs in accordance with the national services delivery standards.

ii. Regional Secretariats

The responsibilities of the Regional secretariat include the following:

To carry out periodic internal audits in the Local Government Authorities (LGAs) and school to ensure that performance targets are being met.

To guide, co-ordinate and monitor the delivery of social services

To provide technical support to council offices

iii. Urban authorities

Town council, municipal council and city council fall under urban authorities. As at present there are twenty five urban council i.e. five City Councils, seventeen Municipal councils and Four Town councils

iv. City Council

Currently there are six cities, namely – Dar-es-Salaam, Mwanza, Arusha, Tanga, Mbeya and Dodoma. Member of the city council are the following:-

Structure of the city Council

i. Elect members (Councilors), one from each ward in the city.

ii. Member of parliament representing parliamentary constituencies in the city

iii. National member of parliament (Women) residing in a particular city

iv. Not more than six other members appointed by the Minister responsible for local governments from among the city residents.

v. Municipal Council

Municipalities are towns which have a population of over 80,000 residents each.

Member of the municipal council are the same as those of town council. The council is headed by a mayor who is assisted by a deputy mayor. Both the mayor and the deputy mayor are elected by member from amongst the elected councilors. Ike a town council, the municipal council has a director who is the chief executive and serves as a Secretary to the council.

vi. Town council

The Town council is composed of councilors elected from each ward within the town, Member of Parliament representing the constituencies within the town and five member appointed by the Minister responsible for Local Government and the women appointed to the council whose number is not less than one third of Ward representatives and Members of parliament combined.

 vii. District council

A district council is an administrative area corresponding to that of government administration.

The district council is composed of the following:-

Elected members or councilors, one from each ward in the district

Three members appointed by the minister responsible for local government

The member of parliament or (members of the parliament from the constituencies) within the areas of the district.

Chairperson of village council elected by the district council. Their number is directed not to exceed one-third of the total number of elected councilors.

A district council is headed by a chairperson who is assisted by a Vice-chairperson. These two are elected by councilors among themselves. The chief executive of the council is the District Executive Director (DED). This is a government employee, not a political official

Responsibilities of Councilors

Some of the functions of councilors include the following:-

To review periodically progress and performance of development s

To direct and control the affairs of their local government authorities

To make decision in the objectives of their authorities and on the plan to attain them. For instance, approval of by-laws and annual budget.

Function of Local Government Directors

The director is both the chief executive of the Council and the accounting officer. Therefore:-

The director performs the day to day administration of the services carried by the local government authority.

The director provides the necessary advice to enable councilor set objectives and decide on the means of attaining them.

The directors identify and choose particular problems, and make necessary decision taking into account the view of councilors.

viii. The Ward

The Minister responsible for Local Government has been mandated to sub-divide the area of every District, Town, Municipality or City Council into Wards, Neighborhoods (Mitaa)-in urban areas or Villages (in rural areas) hamlets.

The number and size of the Ward varies Council to council depending on population densities, size of the council are and geographical characteristics of the District, town, Municipality or city in question. The Ward is an administrative and services delivery and for coordinating activities of villages and Neighborhoods within the Ward. There is no elected Council at the Ward level.

Instead each Ward has a Ward development Committee, which comprises of:

A Councilor representing the Ward in the District or urban Council who is the Chairperson of the Committee

Chairperson of all Villages within the Ward.

Chair persons of Neighborhoods in the case of Urban Wards.

Women Councilors who occupy special seats reserved for women in the relevant District or Urban Authority resident in the Ward.

Invited members who must include persons from Non-Government Organizations and other Civic Group involved in the promotion and development of the Ward (but without voting right )

The functions of the Ward Development Committee include:-

Promotion, establishment and development of cooperative enterprises and activities within the Ward.

Initiation and formulation of any task, venture or enterprises designed to ensure the welfare and well-being of Ward residents.

Supervision and coordination of the implementation of Council project and s

Planning and coordination of activities of, and rendering assistance and advice to the residents of the Ward engaged in ay activity or industry of any kind.

Formulation and submission to the Village councils or to the District/urban councils of proposals for the making of by-laws in relation to the affairs of the Ward.

Monitoring revenue collection.

Initiating and promoting participatory development in the Ward

Supervision of all funds established and entrusted in the Ward

Managing disaster and environment related activities

Promotion of gender issues.

Where any scheme or for the development of the Ward has been approved by the council Chief Executive or by the Village councils concerned, the Ward development committee is required to inform all person within the Ward area about the scheme or me and the date, time or place upon which the Ward residents will report in order to participate in its implementation.

The funds and resources of the Ward development committee consist of such sum as may be determined and appropriated by the district or urban council.

ix. The Neighbourhood (Mtaa)

In the urban areas the lowest unit of government is the “Neighbourhood” or Neighbourhood Section 14(3) of the Local government (Urban authorities) Act no. 8 of 1982 stipulates that the area of an urban Ward shall be divided into Neighbourhood consisting of a number of households, which the urban authority may determine.

Every Neighbourhood has a chairperson who is elected by a Neighbourhood electoral meeting of all adult member of Neighbourhood and who may be moved from office by the decision of a simple majority of such members subject to procedures prescribed by the Minister responsible for Local government.

The “Neighbourhood” Chairperson is required to convene a meeting of Neighbourhood Assembly at least once in every two months and therefore to submit the minute of the meeting to the ward development committee

Every “Neighbourhood” has a Neighbourhood committee of not more than six members (of whom at least two should be women) elected from amongst residents of the “Neighbourhood” in accordance with procedures as may be prescribed by the Minister responsible for Local Government.

The functions of the neighbourhood committee are:

To implement Council Policies

To advise the Council on matter relating to development plans and activities of the neighbourhood.

To advise the Ward development committee on matter relating to peace and security in the neighbourhood.

To keep proper record of residents of the neighbourhood and a record of other particulars relating to the development of the neighbourhood is general.

To do such other things as may be conferred upon it by the Ward Development committee.

The “neighbourhood” chairperson is part from chairing “neighbourhood” Assembly and “neighbourhood” committee meeting required:

To supervise peace and security activities in the “Neighbourhood”

To arbitrate on minor conflicts amongst “Neighbourhood” resident which do not warrant to be referred to the Ward Tribunal nor the courts

To sensitize “Neighbourhood” residents to pay Council taxes

To ensure general cleanliness in the “Neighbourhood”

To cooperate with the Urban council in abatement of nuisances

To follow up and ensure that every school going age child gets a place and attends classes as required.

To sensitize “Neighbourhood” residents to participate in developmental activities through self-help

To perform such other function as may be determined by the Urban council.

 x. The Village

The Registrar of Villages in the Ministry responsible for Local government may register an area as a Village where he/she is satisfied that not less than 250 homesteads have settled and made their programs within any area of mainland Tanzania, and that boundaries of that area can be particularly defined.

The Minister responsible for Local government may authorize two or more areas to be registered as a single Village and, also authorizes the registration of an area as a Village notwithstanding that there are less than the prescribed numbers of households within the area.

Two major organs have been created at village level. The Village Assembly is composed of all adult persons ordinarily resident in the village. The village council comprises of not less than fifteen but not more than twenty –five members (of whom women make at least 25%) elected every 5 years by the village Assembly. The election of the village Council is conducted in accordance with procedures prescribed by the Minister responsible for Local Government matter.

No person can be elected as a member of the village council, unless;

He/she has attained the apparent age of 21 years

He/she is a member of a household within the village and is ordinarily resident in the village

He/she is able to read and write in Kiswahili or English.

He/she has a lawful means of livelihood.

The Village Council may, by resolution supported by two thirds of the members, remove the chairperson from office.

A Village Assembly is the supreme authority on all matters of general policy making in relation to the affairs of the village, and as such it is responsible for the election of the Village Council and its removal from Office. The Village Assembly meets once in every three months and may hold extraordinary meetings whenever there is an urgent issue to be resolved.

The function of the village assembly is as follows:

To receive and deliberate on implementation reports submitted by the village Council.

To receive and deliberate on revenue and expenditure reports since the last meeting.

To receive and deliberate on by-laws proposed by the Village council.

To deliberate on reports on applications for land as submitted and decided upon by the Village council.

To receive and take note of directives from higher governance levels.

The Village Council is the organ which is vested with all executive (government) power in respect of all affairs and business of the village Specifically the Village council is required:

To oversee security and peace activities in the Village

To do all such things as are necessary or expedient for the economic and social development of the village

To initiate and undertake any tasks, venture or enterprise designed ensure the welfare and well-being of the residents of the Village.

To receive and deliberate issues raised at meeting of Hamlets (sub-village) Assemblies

To plan and coordinate the activities of and render assistance and advice to the residents of the village engaged in agricultural, horticultural, forestry or other activity or industry of any kind.

To encourage resident of the village in undertaking and participating in communal enterprises.

To participate by way of partnership or any other way, in economic enterprises with other Village councils

The Village Council is required to meet once every month but may hold an emergency meeting anytime if a need so arises.

xi. The Hamlet (Kitongoji)

The lowest Local Government organ in rural and peri-urban areas is the Hamlet, which forms part of a registered Village. The law requires that the area of a Village shall be divided into not more than five Hamlets consisting of such number of households or of such geographical areas as may be determined by the Village council and approved by the District Council.

Every Hamlet has a chairperson who is elected by the electron college consisting of all the adult members of the Hamlet in accordance with electron procedures prescribed by the Minister responsible for the Local Government and also who may be removed from office by the decision of a simple majority of such members.

The chairperson of a Hamlet may appoint a Committee of three person s from amongst the resident of the Hamlets to advice on issues beneficial to the Hamlet and may also appoint one of the residents to act as Secretary.

The Hamlet Chairperson’s specific functions and responsibilities are:

To convene monthly meeting of all Hamlet residents to discuss and resolve on issues relating to peace, security and development of the Hamlet

To maintain a register of all Hamlet residents and other particulars relating to the general development of the Hamlet including a record of births and deaths

To ensure peace and security of residents and their property

To arbitrate on minor conflicts which need not to be referred to the Ward Tribunal or to the courts

To mobilize residents to pay required taxes and dues as determined by the District and Village Councils

To deal with health and environmental issue in the Hamlet and ensure proper implementation of National, regional and District campaigns against communicable diseases.

To ensure proper protection of the environment and water sources.

To follow up and ensure that all school going children secure a place and attend school as required.

To sensitize residents to participate in adult literacy classes

To sensitize residents to participate in development activities through self-help

To represent the Hamlet in the village council.

Local government structure in Tanzania


In Tanzania forms of local government include:-

1. Village government or Neighbourhood (Neighbourhood) government in rural or urban setting respectively. A village/ Neighbourhood government is the smallest local government unit. It is made up of the village/ Neighbourhood Assembly which is headed by a village/ Neighbourhood chairperson and the village/ Neighbourhood council which is led by the Village/ Neighbourhood Executive Officer (VEO/ MEO).

The adult population in the village forms the village assembly. The village council is the executive arm of the village assembly. It has powers to oversee the day to day activities of the village. A village government discharges its functions through its standing committee which are the Finance, economic and planning committee; the Defense and Security committee and the Social service committee.

2. District councils. The district council are constituted by:-

Elected members or councilors, one from each ward in the district

Three members appointed by the minister responsible for local government

The Member of Parliament or members of parliament from the constituencies within the areas of the district.

Chairperson of the village council elected by the district council. Their number does not exceed one-third of the total member

A district council is headed by a chairperson who is assisted by a vice chairperson.

The Chief Executive of the council is the District executive of the council is the district executive director (DED) who is a government employee.

3. Urban authorities (Town council, Municipal councils and council). These councils are headed by the Mayor and the deputy mayor who are elected from among the elected councilors. There are also Town Municipal and city Director. A town, Municipal or city Director is the Chief Executive and serves as Secretary to his or her respective function and council.

Functions of Local Government

Local governments are expected to perform various functions and duties which can be grouped into two major categories. These are mandatory and permissive functions and duties.

Mandatory function and duties of local government

Mandatory and duties of a local government are those function and duties which are to be performed by a local government without question as required by law of the country. The central government requires local governments to perform such duties and the local governments have no choice except to discharge such duties as required.

Maintenance of peace, order, and good governance

Promotion of economic welfare and social well-being of all persons

To further the social and economic development of its area of jurisdiction in in accordance with the national policy and plans for rural and urban development

Formulation, coordination and supervision of the implementation of all plans for economic, industrial and social development in the area of jurisdiction;

Monitoring and controlling the performance of the duties and function of the council and its officers and staff.

Ensuring the collection and utilization of the revenues of the council

Making by-laws for the implementation of national and local policies

Ensuring, regulation and coordinating development plans, projects and s of village and township authorities within their areas of jurisdiction.

Regulating and monitoring the collection and utilization of revenue of village council and township authorities.

Permissive functions

Permissive functions are those which the local government may perform depending upon needs and availability of financial resource. Such functions are the following:-

Control or prescription of method of husbandry on agricultural land

Establishment, maintenance, operation and control of drainage and sewerage works

Building, equipping and letting shops and dwelling houses

Charging fees for services and licenses. For instance, taxes on goods and services such as crops, forest products, hunting license, fees, business and professional license, etc

Building and maintaining health centers and primary as well as secondary schools.

The role of local government in enhancing democracy in Tanzania

The following are the ways through which the local government enhances democracy in the country.

Local governments give chance to many people to participate in election by making democratic decisions through casting votes on the candidates they want. For example, they choose village chairpersons, councilors, etc.

Local governments bring about greater democratic participation of citizens through holding referenda, recalls, initiatives and citizen assemblies for collective decision making.

Local governments provide room of involving people in planning and implementation of developed programs. The purpose of having Local Government Authorities, ion the words of article 146(1) of the Constitution, is “to transfer authority to the people”. Local Government authorities have been given power to participate and to involve the people in the planning and implementation of development programs within these respective areas and generally through the country

Local governments ensure that people participate in the affairs of their government in accordance with the provisions of the condition. E. g. the village assembly meets once in every three months and may hold extraordinary meetings whenever there is urgent issue to be resolved.

Local governments enable the enacting of by-laws which are more relevant and which seek to realize the interest of citizen within their locality. For example, the Ward Development Committee formulates and submits to the village council to the District/urban councils proposals for the making of by-laws in relation to the affairs to the Ward.

Local Government Monitor and control the performance of duties and function of the council and its offices and staff. For instance, the Ward Development committee supervises and coordinates the implementation of Council projects and programs.

Local governments sensitize residents to participate in development activities through self-help and mobilize residents to pay required taxes and dues as determined by the District and village council.

Abuse of power in a democratic society

Abuse of power refers to negative and unjust use of power. In a democratic society the people give the government the power to govern on their behalf. The government officials should exercise this power in a positive, just and responsible manner. This means that they have to exercise it fairly and properly within the rules established by the constitution and the laws of the country.

Effects of abuse of power in a democratic state

Violation of human rights; If there is abuse of power in the society people’s rights area highly violate since people are denied to get their rights. Example, it is the right of every adult individual to vote or being voted for during election, but it might happen that people are being intimidated by the state authority and thereby fail to exercise their right to choose leaders of their choice. This might happen when coercive organs stop meetings and demonstrations for those who exercise their right to association and beat them up.

Poor social service delivery; Social services are one of the important amenities to the life of individuals. These include health, education, water, etc. when there is abuse of power by the civil servants in the society, the provision of these services is likely to be poor because the funds allocated to provide these services will be used for personal interests by few people instead of the whole society.

Poor standards of living and underdevelopment; the standard of living in a country is measured by per capita income of that particular country, which is determined by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and given number of population. Poor standard of living would be contributed by factors like low production, due to misallocation of funds and corruption by the leaders which in turn leads to GDP, which leads to poor living standards of people and underdevelopment

Increase of social evils; This happens when some people lose hope to their leaders who are corrupt, where people may turn into crimes such as robbery, banditry and prostitution so as to earn their living.

Conflicts and civil wars; These may happen when the government officials exercise more power than the law has given them, or when the government violates the law or constitution of the country. This may lead to misunderstandings, civil wars, and deaths in a given society. Example in Burundi and Rwanda.

Classes in the society; Abuse of power in the society may lead to emergence of classes in the society, because excessive corruption and misuse of funds leads to accumulation of wealth to few people while the majority remains poor and in a difficult condition.

Decrease of patriotism among the citizens. When corruption increases in the society, people loses trust to the leaders and hence decreases their love to their government and the country as a whole.

Ways to prevent abuse of powers in a democratic state

Increasing accountability and transparency. The government should stipulate accountability to all the public officials in various institutions such as hospitals, schools, universities etc. to make sure that they fulfill their duty to the public their actions, policies and decisions, where as transparency refers to the creation of openness peoples access to information on what is going on I their government and in the society. The best way to ensure this is to have a democratic system with strong opposition, bill of rights and free press.

Fair procedures. Presence of fair procedures especially when dealing with the public affairs is another important way to combat and prevent abuse of power. These procedures are sometimes referred to as the due process of law, and require the government to give notice to citizens before taking certain actions. Sometimes a hearing is necessary, and the government should always make fair and justified decisions. Fair procedures protect the citizens from arbitrary government decisions

 Separation of powers; This enables the different branches of government to check or limit the powers of each other. This is called checks and balances. Although their functions are interrelated, each branch of the government is granted its own powers which no other branch can take over. This is due to the fact that when one branch of the government has too much power there is likelihood for greater abuse of power.

 Increasing publicity; This is done through the media which helps to uncover the abuse of power by the government or public officials. It also promotes communication because it enables the government to learn about the views of its citizens and the citizens to learn the views of the government leaders and opposition. This is also referred to as transparency.

Using multi- party democracy; Multi party system is one of the important means of checking the abuse of power. The opposition parties act as watchdogs to different actions and decisions done/ made by the government. In so doing, the opposition parties do challenge the ruling party and make it and the government accountable.

The public protector; Public protestor is the office for an independent public official or public protector, created so as to investigate public complaints against the government officials. He/ she is not appointed from the ranks of the supporters of the government.

The role and responsibilities of individual citizen in a democratic society

Active participation in the community development: A citizen ought to be active in activities such as agricultural activities and other physical works.

Participation in prevention of crime and reporting: In a democratic society the process of preventing crime and reporting crime is not only the function of the police and other forces but also the duty of every citizen. For that case a citizen 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.

Timely payment of taxes: Paying tax and other duties is the responsibility and role of a citizen in a democratic society. He/she has to be punctual in fulfilling this without being forced

Respect of the law and the constitution: The constitution of any country has the function of directing the country’s leaders how to run the country. It is the role and responsibility of every citizen to respect the constitution by not violating the rules which have been stipulated within it.

To respect others’ rights: The role and reasonability of a citizen is to respect human rights. These are right to life, right to own property, freedom of assembly and of press, etc

To combat corruption: Every citizen in a democratic society has the role and responsibility of fighting against corruption. Corruption is a problem in society since it leads to laziness and delays in provision of services. Corruption also weakness human rights because one can be considered to be right if he/she has a lot of money and has given bribes.

Care of the environment, public property and services: Every citizen is responsible to protect and conserve the environment by using applicable methods such as a forestation and reforestation. Also a citizen has the responsibility of caring property like schools, building, roads, national parks and other services constructed by the government for public services.

Participating in political matters either directly or indirectly: For example, standing in political meeting and joining political organization.

To have a good conduct and behavior: Every citizen has the responsibility of examining his/her behavior in the country he or she resides. If it seems to be immoral he/she should have a moral obligation to refrain it. For example, bad behavior such as theft, homosexuality, prostitution, use of marijuana and other social crime

To exercise honesty and civility: The role of a citizen in democratic society is to be faithful for anything which is planned for development of a communication

To promote peace and harmony: It is the role and responsibility of every citizen to ensure that unity and solidarity prevail. So every citizen has a duty to ensure that any conflict that arises is settled.

The role and responsibilities of civil society organizations in a democratic society

Civil society organizations (CSOs) are not profit non-governmental organizations that have a presence in public life expressing the interests and values of their members and others based on cultural, ethnic and political consideration e.g. Haki-Elimu, TGNP (Tanzania Gender Networking me), MWDo (Maasai Women Development Organization), EnviroCare (Environment, Human Rights, Care and Gender Organization), etc.

The following are the role and responsibilities of strong civil society organization in democratic society.

Supporting policy formation implementation and evaluation through practical advice. For examp0le, the Tanzania Gender budget Initiative (GBI) is organized by Feminist activities (FemAct) led by TGNP and it exemplified effort by civil society organization to engage more directly in the policy making process at all levels.

Regulating and monitoring state performance and behavior of public official. Active society organizations scrutinize state performance and ethical behavior of public officials to ensure that there is no misuse of power for person interests.

To enable citizen to identify their values beliefs and democratic practices. Civil society organizations mobilize constituencies especially the vulnerable and marginalized to participate fully in public affairs.

Civil society organization foster development work of citizens and improve well-being of their own community.

Civil society organizations act as watch dogs to see what the government does. For example checking the way government respect human rights.

Civil society organizations act as a link between donors and aid beneficiaries. Since civil society organizations act as a bridge between the state and citizen donors tend to use these organizations as they are able to fulfill the needs of a given society. For example, in Tanzania aid may be given through the civil Society Foundation.

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