Citizen engagement ensures community involvement in decision making on matters that affect them or in which they have an interest. Citizen engagement enhances the legitimacy of the Government‟s action beyond its borders. Citizens must feel connected to the Government, they must feel involved in the decisions that are made for their benefit, they must be able to give out their opinions on the functioning of the Government and they must be aware of whether their ideas are considered before any decision is made because they are the beneficiaries of those decisions.
The Government has instituted several measures to engage citizens‟ participation in day to day operations. These measures have been instituted in all levels of Government operations although a number of challenges remain to be addressed to widen participation especially in rural areas. The initiatives that have been taken to ensure citizens‟ participation include:
i. Establishment of Citizen‟s Website in 2007 to allow citizens to give their opinions, ask questions and get feedback from the Government;
ii. Formulation and approval of Local Government budgets through a participatory approach known as "Opportunities and Obstacles to Development" (O&OD). The approach allows villages to prepare plans and budgets and submit them to the higher LGA level for inclusion in the Council‟s plans and budgets;
iii. Establishment of sector dialogue mechanism involving Government, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Private Sector and Development Partners aimed at increasing effectiveness and efficiency in the implementation of sector development programmes. One of the key functions of the sector dialogue is to undertake Annual Joint Sector Reviews (JSRs) whereby, annual sector performance reports are presented and priority actions for the subsequent year discussed and agreed upon;
iv. Establishment of Public Expenditure Review (PER) dialogue. PER is a high level dialogue between Government, Development Partners, CSOs and other social groups. It is a technical advisory forum that the Government uses to draw views/comments for improving planning, budgeting and financial management;
v. Establishment of Annual Policy Dialogue to review PER, General Budget Support (GBS) and National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP) or MKUKUTA in Kiswahili acronym. This is a single event that draws about 1,000 participants from the Government, CSOs, Private Sector, Development Partners and Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) whereby inputs from the forum feed into the National Plan and Budget process;
vi. Open and transparent system of village land allocation that requires the Village Assembly to pass a resolution to allocate Village Land to an individual or a firm that has submitted land request to the Village Government. The Village Assembly constitutes all villagers with or above 18 years. According to Village Land Act 8 all Village Leaders have no mandate whatsoever to allocate land. Gender sensitive village and ward tribunals have been established to handle land disputes; and
vii. Involvement of citizens and other stakeholders into the formulation of policies or laws to obtain their views and suggestions before they are passed by the Parliament; and
viii. Establishment of country-level network (CLK net), a platform for providing opportunity to draw input from the public for policy development and review (www.clknet.or.tz).
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