Democracy is a political form of government in which governing power is derived from the people, by consensus (consensus democracy), by direct referendum (direct democracy), or by means of elected representatives of the people (representative democracy). The term comes from the Greek word (demokratia) “rule of the people”, which was coined from (demos) “people” and (Kratos) “power”. There is no universal definition of the term democracy, people like the late USA president ABRAHAM LINCOLN define democracy as “The government of the people, for the people and by the people” which means : ?
Of the people means the government derives all its powers from the people ? For the people means the government is there to serve the interest of the people ? By the people means the people elect those who are to govern on their behalf According to Nnoli(20033) he defined democracy as the system of government usually involving freedom of the individual in various aspects of life, equality among citizens, justice in the relations between the people and the government and the participation of the people in choosing those in government.
Democracy is devided into direct democracy where by all adult citizen of a community participate fully in a decision making on matter brought for discussion. Decision are by the popular vote YES or NO. The Anthens are the first people to practices direct democracy. It is mostly conducted in the small populated areas like classrooms in the election of the Class representative.
The other type of democracy is indirect democracy where by different groups in community elect reoresentative and give them mandate to make public decision on their behalf. The representative may be one person or small group of people. Indirect democracy originated in Europe during the emergence of capitalism. In this kind of democracy periodic elected leaders are placed into power and are removed from the power through periodic election, it mostly done in highly populated areas.
Also these representative is divided into three categories which are parliamentary democracy Which is kind of representative democracy where by the executive is a part of the legislature here king or queen is the head of the state and prime minister is the head of government example Britain,Spain,Holland,Beigium and so on, the other category is Presidential democracy where by the executive and the legislature are independent of each other.
The president is the head of both state and government and holds ffice for a fixed period example USA In order for the democracy to stand in any society the following are some of the essential pillars of the architecture of democracy; First, free and fair elections lend legitimacy to democracy by preventing one person or a small group in society from imposing certain vested interests on the general population. No one person or group should exercise a monopoly of power over the election process. In a democracy, political parties can be formed and can campaign without intimidation.
Some countries require political parties to have a minimum level of popular support before they can participate in elections. All political parties must also have access to a free media and other means to broadcast their election manifestos. The electoral process is supervised, monitored and carried out by a neutral body, often an election commission. In Tanzania free and fair election is conducted though in other hand it is not practiced since some political parties are given more chances to broadcast their election manifestos than others.
For example CCM(Chama cha Mapinduzi) is given priority to broadcast its election manifesto than other political parties like TLP(Tanzania labour Party), CHADEMA (Chama cha demokrasia na Maendeleo), CUF(Civic United Front) and others. Also there is no neutral electoral commission as the commissioner of National Electoral Commission (NEC) is appointed by the President and it works under the President office which might violate its neutrality. The second pillar is political tolerance. Free and fair elections do not give a mandate to oppress or sideline those who have voted against the government.
It also does not mean that the majority have the right to rob the minority of its civil liberties, rights, property or life. Tolerance is required for democracy to be sustained. If minority groups do not benefit equitably from the election process, there can be no peace. That absence of peace would make a mockery of efforts to be democratic. In many countries, there are examples of rewards being given only for those voters who supported the ruling party, with neglect or punishment for those who voted for the opposition. The distribution of food, water supplies and development resources has been used as a weapon of control to win elections.
In Tanzania to some extents the majority rule is applying while minority rights are respected but the political tolerance is yet to stand as we saw in our last general election where Chama cha demokrasia na Maendeleo(CHADEMA) didn’t accept the win of the President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete and in the opening assembly of the second phase of his term their Members of Parliament went out and didn’t recognize his position of President. That was being intolerant. The third pillar is the rule of law. There has been much debate on the meaning of this.
What is clear, though, there is close connection between the rule of law and democracy. When the political process is subject to laws and the government officials exercising their power and authority within the constitution and laws of the country, it enables citizens to judge the lawfulness of the government. Democracy becomes dysfunctional when the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the legislature, the private sector, the police and the military all use their power to enrich themselves and advance their own interests at the expense of civil society. Laws notwithstanding, corruption undermines the rule of law.
To ensure the functioning of the rule of law, it is vital that the integrity and independence of the judiciary and the entire justice system are not subject to undue influence and illegal intervention. In Tanzania the practice of rule of law is very minimal the governors undermine its practice where some of the leaders who break the laws are not taken care of as the laws claims, also the problem of corruption in the judiciary branch is persisting never the less the judiciary has done its part in solving elections cases of Igunga, Ubungo, and Arusha constituents as well as private candidacy in general election by standing on the laws
The fourth pillar is freedom of expression. What people in civil society are allowed to say, print, distribute and discuss is indicative of the democratic nature of a political system. A free press is a measure of the freedom of expression in a society. Few governments have a genuinely easy relationship with a free press. Yet, despite all its shortcomings, a free press, supported by open Internet access, is indispensable to keeping the public informed as part of a functioning democracy. Even in an established democracy, government may seek to manipulate a free press into serving its own ends.
Governments often conduct spin campaigns, to advance their agenda and dilute the power of independent media. New technology is unleashing powerful new forces through expansion of information dissemination and space for public discourse. These new forces have made it much harder for governments to control the flow of information. The fact remains that even democratically-elected governments will go to great lengths to manipulate public opinion whether on TV, in the print media or the Internet.
Taking the case of Tanzania where newspapers like Mwanahalisi was banned by the government just because it provided information that affect the welfare of some of government leaders. Also the Editor of Tanzania daima newspaper Absalom Kibanda is also facing the court charges for allowing publishing of news that affect the current government interests so the freedom of press is denied and government create fear indirectly for the public opinions to be expressed The fifth pillar is accountability and transparency.
This means that institutions of government and individuals in those institutions must be held accountable for their actions. A government must be accountable to the people who elected it. Furthermore, it must be accountable to an independent judiciary or other impartial institutions established to check government action. Decisions must not advance the agendas of vested interest groups over the public interest. As Mmuya and Chaligha(1994: pg 189) claimed “Democracy become meaningful only when political parties are accountable to the people.
Moreover the government has not only to be transparent but also be accountable to the people through their representatives. ” Also political parties have to be accountable and perform their duties as they are supposed to be. To some extent the Tanzania government is accountable the public can question the government actions and expenditures, officials who misuse their power are removed from their positions. Example Dr. William Mhando the former managing director of TANESCO together with his subordinates were removed from office due to misuse of public office for their own interest.
To some extent the Tanzania government is transparent from time to time it inform the public about its decisions and action example now days all members of parliament and high officials are asked to disclose their wealth before start to work and after fixed period before moves out from their positions. The sixth pillar rests on local political empowerment. The closer the government is to the people governed, the more responsive the government is likely to be. At the same time, for decentralised democracy to work, here must also be a decentralisation of funding, material and human resources and institutional capability.
Decentralisation of the political process is another way to curb the concentration of power and influence exercised by political forces. Citizens become more aware, interested and willing to participate in democracy when they see their officials as neighbours and what is at stake as something close to home. Only the national government can print currency, conduct foreign policy, provide for the nation’s defence.
However local matters such as community services are best managed by local or state, regional or country or provincial government. The other pillar of democracy is the Separtion of power. Is the system where by Government powers are separated and divided between the three branches namely Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. Each of these branches performs its functions independently without interference from other branches. Executive is the body of government which comprises the President, the Cabinet and civil servants. Is the rulling body which conduct all administrative works in the government.
Legislature is the law enacting body which comprise of the President and national assembly and the Judiciary body comprises of court judges, magistrates and headed by Chief justice and their duty is to enforce laws. In Tanzania these three branches are ideologically there but their practice is not efficient. The President who is the head of executive branch is also part of the parliament or legislature so he might have the influence to members of parliament when they will be required to pass the bills. In that sense the legislature branch is not fully independent from the executive branch.
Also the President have the mandate to appoint court judges of high court as well as court of appeal together with the Chief Justice so they will ideologically being separate as judiciary branch but their work might have the influence of the one who apoointed them hence the separation of power is yet not being achieved. The other pillar is human rights which are the needs which all people deserve simply because of their humanity. For example right to live, right to vote and to be voted. Ther are individual rights, moral rights and others.
In Tanzania human rights are included in the national constitution and are also maintained, like right to vote, right to have basic needs, right to live though there are actions which deny some of these rights like killing of elders in Shinyanga and the Lake Victoria zone, also albino killing which both deny the right to live. All in all the pillars of democracy outlined above are necessary but insufficient without leaders to build and maintain them. The qualities of leadership for sustainable democracy are to be found in those who act in an honest, transparent and accountable manner.
They are consensus builders, open-minded and fair. They are committed to justice and to advancing the public interest. And they are tolerant of opposing positions. In admitting our father’s limitations, let us strive to avoid the mistakes of the past and look forward to a new generation of leaders who can build on the lessons of the struggles of ordinary citizens for democracy.
Mmuya and Chaligha(1994) Political parties and Democracy in Tanzania, Dar-es-salaam University Press Tanzania ? Nnoli(2003) Introduction to politics, Enugu Nigeria ?www. nationmultimedia. com
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