TOPIC 3: DEMOCRACY
MEANING OF DEMOCRACY
The term democracy comes from the two Greek words, demos which mean people, and kratos which means power. Therefore, in Greek, the word democracy means the rule of the people, it is the system where by the population of a given society controls the government.
Abraham Lincoln, the 19th USA’s president, defined democracy as the government of the people, by the people for the people. Of the people means that people are sovereignty and that the government derives its power and authority from them. For the people means that the government is there to serve the interest of the people and by the people means that people should have the power and right to choose leaders who are to govern on their behalf. These leaders are all representatives of the entire society.
Generally, democracy can be defined as the form of government in which people rule. Majority of people have supreme (highest) political power to make decisions in the
Also democracy can be defined as asystem of government in which all people in a country can vote to elect their representatives. In a democracy, the government receives its power from the mandate of its citizens. Citizens agree to be ruled by the government because this is apractical and convenient way of running the country for the benefit of all.
PRINCIPLES OF DEMOCRACY
Basic principles of democratic governments
1. Citizen Participation
Citizen participation means the involvement of citizens of the country in different affairs, including:
- Voting in elections.
- Being informed about community or civic meetings.
- Being members of private voluntary organizations.
- Paying taxes.
- Be aware ofpublic issues.
- Discussing public issues.
- Working in campaigns.
- ontributing to political parties
- Circulating and signing petitions.
Democracy values all individuals equally. This means people have equal opportunities and may not be discriminated against because of their race, religion, ethnic group or gender. Democracy allows an individual or groups the right to have different cultures, personalities, languages and beliefs.
3. Political Tolerance
Democratic societies are politically tolerant. This means that while the minority of the people rules, the rights of the majority is protected. People who are not in power are allowed to organize themselves and speak out because they may have ideas which are different from those of the leaders. Individual citizens must also learn to tolerate each other.
Democracy makes leaders accountable to the people. Leaders are responsible for their actions. They make decisions and work according to the will and wishes of the people.
A transparent government holds meetings and allows citizens to attend, express their views and ask questions. In democracy, the press and the people are able to get information about what decisions are made, by whom and why. An accountable government makes people aware of what is happening in the country.
6. Regular Free and Fair Elections
Electing offcials to represent people in government regularly is a way of expressing the citizens’ will. Offcials are chosen and removed from office in a free and fair manner. Corruption and threats to citizens during or before an election are against the principles of democracy.
7. Economic Freedom
Democratic societies allow people to have economic freedom. The government allows private ownership of goods and services. People are allowed to engage in any legal work. They are also allowed to join labour unions. The government lets people debate national issues.
8. Control of the Abuse of Power
Democratic societies try to prevent any elected officials or groups of people from misusing or abusing their power. The power can be abused through corruption or use of public funds for their own benefit, e.g. accepting money or gifts so as to provide services in an illegal manner.
9. Bill of Rights
A Bill of Rights is a list of rights and freedoms guaranteed to all people in the country’s Constitution. The courts of law have the power to enforce these rights. Democracy emphasizes the value of every human being. Examples of rights include freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, the right to equality and the right to education.
Every democratic country allows the existence of more than one political party. The political parties must participate in elections and play a role in government. A multiparty system allows the party which wins the general election to form the government. When multiparty politics prevail in a state, they make the government constantly concerned about serving the people. The opposition parties challenge and correct the government.
11. The Rule of Law
The rule of law is the situation where all members of society, including the leaders, accept and respect the authority of the law. No one is above the law.All people are equal before the law. Everyone must obey the laws and be accountable if they abuse it. The rule of law insists that the law be equally, fairly and consistently enforced.
12. Accepting the Results of Elections
Elections are one of the components of democracy. In any contest, there must be winners and losers. Sometimes, those who lose in an election think that their candidate is the best and refuse to accept the results. Refusing the results is against democratic principles. This may result in violence, which is also against democracy. To make people accept the results of elections, the elections must be free and fair.
TYPES OF DEMOCRACIES
There are two types of democracy; direct and indirect.
1. DIRECT DEMOCRACY OR PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY
This is a political system where the people vote on government decisions. It is called ‘direct’ because the power of making decisions is exercised by the people directly, without representatives. All adult citizens participate in decision-making on matters brought for discussion. Every important issue is put before an assembly of all citizens for a vote. Direct democracy can only be practiced in countries with a small population.
Switzerland is the only country in the world which practices direct democracy. Every Swiss citizen votes on national matters and can challenge laws passed as well as propose amendments to laws. In many countries, it is impossible for every citizen to take part directly in all governmental decision-making because of very large populations.
We can observe some of the elements of direct democracy in our country e.g. in local governments, small communities, tribes, clans or families. In these groups, every adult is allowed to come together and vote on certain issues. This is direct democracy at the local level.
Features of Direct Democracy
1. Societies have enough freedom to make their own decisions.
2. People directly contribute to government decisions.
3. All votes have equal weight.
4. All adult citizens have the fight to vote on all national issues.
2. INDIRECT OR REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY
This is a political system whereby people elect representatives instead of voting directly on most government decisions. Citizens elect people to serve in parliament and executive positions. These representatives convey the interests and desires of their constituents by participating in governmental processes. Representation can also be in different groups in the community. Members of the community elect persons to represent them and give them power to decide on their behalf.
In representative democracy, citizens participate indirectly by electing village councilors, members of parliament and the President. At the school level, students elect their representatives to the school government. For example, a class monitor may represent his or her class in the school government.
Features of Indirect Democracy
1. Elected leaders or representatives are removed through elections organized constitutionally and periodically.
2. Tanzania conducts elections after every five years.
3. All adult citizens have the right to vote or be voted for in an election.
4. People have freedom of assembly, worship, press, opinion and association as long as they abide by the laws of the country.
5. The elected body governs according to the wishes of the majority.
6. There is competition among political parties.
TYPES OF INDIRECT DEMOCRACY
1. Parliamentary Democracy
This is a type of indirect democracy whereby voters elect representatives to be members of parliament. Members of parliament in turn choose a person to head the Cabinet. That head of Cabinet is called a Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is the leader of the majority party in parliament. He or she chooses Cabinet ministers from the Parliament. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet remain in office as long as there is majority support in the parliament. The members of parliament have the power to force the Prime Minister to resign through a vote of no confidence. If they vote against the Prime Minister, then he or she must resign and a new Prime Minister is elected by Parliament. Ethiopia, India and the United Kingdom are examples of countries run by parliamentary democracy.
2. Presidential Democracy
This is a form of representative democracy whereby the parliament and Cabinet are independent organs. Voters elect representatives to a Parliament. They also elect the head of the Cabinet that is the president. The president holds office for a fixed item. In a presidential democracy, the president does not directly control the parliament so the two can check each other’s power. This is called a system of checks and balances. In this type of democracy the President may come from one political party while the majority members of parliament come from another political party. Tanzania follows this system.
3. Combined Parliamentary and Presidential Democracy
This is the type of democracy whereby the president is elected by the people while the prime minister is elected by the members of parliament. An example of a country which has combined parliamentary and presidential democracy is France. Tanzania is a parliamentary system which is described as, ‘hybrid’ between the America presidential system and the British system of parliamentary democracy. The advantages of this system are that the branches of the state checks and balance each other; hence there is clear separation of power.
The Implementation of Democracy in Tanzania
Tanzania is a country which implements democracy in various ways, including the following:
1. Political freedom - Tanzanians who qualify to vote may stand for election. In addition, citizens attend community or civic meetings and are members of political parties.
2. No discrimination - There is no discrimination of people due to their race, religion, ethnic group or gender. We are all equal.
3. Tolerance - The opposition parties are tolerated and protected. Citizens are also required to be tolerant of each other.
4. Free and fair elections - There are fair and free elections. Elections are held regularly, after every five years.
5. Economic freedom - From 1985 to date, the government of Tanzania has allowed freedom of economy and private ownership. Individuals are allowed to own property and businesses. People are allowed to choose their own work and join labour unions.
6. Multipartism - Multiparty politics was reintroduced in 1992. Since then, many political parties have been established which participate in different political affairs.
7. Legal rights - In democratic elections, the losers respect the results. In case there is dissatisfaction, one may demand his or her rights through a court of law.
8. Equality before the law - In Tanzania, no one is above the law. People are equal before the law. If there is violation of any law, people are allowed to demand justice through a court of law
9. Rule of law - Tanzania controls abuse of power. The government has established organizations to facilitate the rule of law. Examples are the Human Rights and Good Governance Commission and the Prevention and Combating Corruption Bureau (PCCB). These organizations help to protect people against abuse of power. Therefore, the rights and freedoms of the people are guaranteed.
Weaknesses of Democracy
Democracy has shortcomings to individuals and the society as well. The following are some of the weaknesses of democracy:
1. Unfairness. This can come about through the implementation of the majority’s decision and leaving out the minority’s decision. Sometimes, the minority’s decisions are also good.
2. Poor representation, Delegation and representation are elements of democracy. Sometimes, those elected to represent others are incapable of dealing with technical issues. The result will be poor representation.
3. Need for literacy, Some members of society are illiterate;they do not bow their rights, especially those rights which are denied by their leaders. Illiterate people do not know the power limits of their leaders. Such people may elect rulers who are incapable under the umbrella of democracy. Those who are in power take advantage of the ignorance of these people to mistreat them.
4. Time-consuming, In the democratic societies, much time is spent to reach decisions even though the matter in discussion may need a quick solution.
These are forms of government which do not exercise democracy. The rulers exercise their power without limits. Dictatorship is the ruling system whereby all powers rest in the hands of a few people or one person. Dictatorship governments have similar characteristics but there are slight differences in the way they operate in different countries. The following are some of the forms of dictatorship:
1. Autocracy is a type of dictatorship in which a single person has unlimited power. He or she can do whatever he or she wants. In this form of dictatorship, the judiciary is not allowed to function independently and the people do not enjoy civic liberties. Political power is monopolised by one person or a small group of people. The rule of the elite is justified only on the basis of traditions, force or a coup.
2. Totalitarianism is a type of government in which all powers are in the hands of one political party which dominates every aspect of human life. Those who are in power believe that no citizen has any right to challenge their authority. Leaders control power and all administrative apparatus. The services of secret forces and intelligence police are used to find out those who try to raise their voice of dissent from official views. Examples of dictators of this type were Benito Mussolini of Italy and Adolf Hitler of Germany.
3. Caesarism is a government that is controlled by military or imperial dictatorship.
4. Fascism is a government with strict and severe rules. It suppresses the opposition through tenor and censorship.
Differences between Democratic and Non-Democratic Governments
1. Respects human rights.
2. Decisions are made by the majority.
3. There is political competition.
4. Citizens delegate their power to their representatives willingly.
5. The state is accountable to the citizens.
6. Rulers remain in power for a specific period of time.
1. Human rights are not respected.
2. Decisions are made by the minority Or one person.
3. There is no political competition.
4. The citizens’ power is grabbed by the minority forcefully.
5. The rulers are in power for their personal interests.
6. Rulers remain in power for a longtime, even for life.
Multiparty democracy is a political system in a country where many political parties are operating legally. Each political party has the aim of taking power through democratic election and forming the government.
A political party is a group of people legally organized and registered for the purposes of forming a government.
In order to have a multiparty democracy, more than one political party must participate in elections and play a role in government. A multiparty democracy allows an opposition party to win the election.
1. Citizens express their political views openly. The national Constitution states the right to form opposition political parties and encourages the citizens to express their political views openly.The opposition parties act as a watchdog over the ruling party.
2. Human rights are respected so citizens are free to express themselves. There is freedom of press, freedom of association, freedom of worship and the right to join political parties of one’s choice.
3. Public accountability and transparency is promoted. Multiparty democracy is one way of checking the abuse of power in government.
4. Multipartism is tolerant. It tolerates group’s and individuals’ views.
5. There is a high level of citizen participation in political affairs. They can vote and be voted for.
6. Citizens are allowed to form pressure groups or nongovernmental organizations(NGOs).
7. The actions of the state are kept constantly responsive to social and political needs.
Historical Background of Multiparty Democracy in Tanzania
Our country reintroduced multiparty democracy in 1992. This is not first time our country is experiencing this system of politics. At the time of resisting colonial rule, Tanganyika had multiparty democracy. The political parties that existed at that time were United Tanganyika Party (UTP), African National Congress (ANC), All Muslim National Union of Tanganyika (AMNUT) and Tanganyika African National Union (TANU).
It was the same in Zanzibar. Before her partial independence in 1963, the political parties in Zanzibar were Afro-Shiraz Party (ASP), Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP), Zanzibar and Pemba People’s Party (ZPPP) and the short-lived UMMA party.The parties were well-organized, strong and very active in both Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Every political party was doing what was expected by its members.
The 1965 constitutional changes created a one party state in both Tanganyika and Zanzibar. In Tanganyika, TANU was the only political party while ASP was the only party in Zanzibar. From 1965 to 1992, Tanzania did not have a multiparty system. Now, we have the following registered political parties in Tanzania:
1. Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM)
2. Civic United Front (CUF-Chama cha Wananchi)
3. Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA)
4. Tanzania Labour Party (TLP)
5. National Convention for Construction and Reform (NCCR-Mageuzi)
6. United Democratic Party (UDP)
7. Chama cha Halci na Ustawi (CHAUSTA)
8. Jahazi AsiliaProgressive Party of Tanzania (PPT-Maendeleo)
9. Democratic Party (DP)
10. Tanzania Democratic Alliance (TADEA)
11. Sauti ya Umma (SAU)
12. National League for Democracy Party (NLDP)
13. National Reconstruction Alliance (NRA)
14. Demokrasia MakiniForum for Restoration of Democracy (FORD)
15. Union for Multiparty Democracy (UMD)
How a Student can Participate in Democratic Activities in the Society
Participation in democratic activities is the right and duty of everyone. Students’ participation can make a difference in how democracy works in their country. Students’ participation in democracy may take many forms including:
1. Standing for election, e.g. for school or club leadership positions.
2. Voting for leaders or issues in school or club elections.
3. Students who qualify should also participate in civic and national elections.
4. Joining a political party, if one qualifies to do so.
5. Taking part in the work of a political party.
6. Staying informed about what is happening in Parliament.
7. Participating in youth organizations in the community.
8. Debating matters relating to democracy.
9. Helping to educate the community on their democratic rights, e.g. through skits and songs.
10. Attending community or civic meetings.
11. Expressing their opinions, e.g. in their peer groups or schools.
Election is the process of choosing a person by vote, especially for political positions. During elections, citizens are given an opportunity to choose a person to lead them.
Democratic elections are elections where participants are treated equally, electoral laws are fair to all contestants and there is political tolerance. People are free to give their views, take part in campaigns, assemble and share ideas. Sometimes, political parties and the government do not tolerate the political activities of others. In this situation, free and fair elections cannot be achieved.
|Seif Shariff Hamad with Ibrahim Lipumba during 2010 election campaigns|
Indicators of Democratic Elections
1. Free and fair election campaigns
2. The government allows freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association.
3. Election campaigns are a series of political meetings designed to win voters for a certain candidate, political party or proposal. In these meetings, candidates present their policies, promises and programs.
4. In free and fair election campaigns, citizens are free to ask questions on issues that need elaboration from the contestants. This enables them to make the right choices in the election.
5. Political parties should not disrupt each other’s’ campaigns and the government should allow opposition parties to hold campaigns freely.
6. All political parties are given equal opportunities
7. The political parties and their nominees must be heard equally.
8. The mass media gives equal coverage to all candidates of different political parties. TV and radio stations air the views of candidates equally. The print media, e.g. newspapers and journals, also publicize the policies of political parties.
9. The government in power allows opposition parties to operate freely.
Code of Ethics for Elections
This is an agreement between the National Electoral Commission (NEC), the government and political parties. The purpose of this agreement is to sustain fairness, mutual understanding and tolerance among stakeholders, and guarantee peace and tranquility throughout the electoral process. Three areas are addressed in the code of conduct. These are:
1. Ethics for political parties
Things to be done by Political Parties and Candidates during the Campaign:
1. All should respect the right of other parties and candidates to exist and to conduct campaign meetings.
2. All should adhere to programs laid out by the NEC and its agents for the coordination of political meetings.
3. Public meetings should be conducted between 8.00 am, and 6.30 p.m.
4. Loudspeakers should only be used between 7:00 a.m. and 7.00 p.m.
5. Campaign material and publications should be vetted by the NEC (for presidential candidates) or returning officers (for other candidates).
6. Parties and presidential candidates should use the procedures and modalities laid out by the NEC when using the public media.
7. Party leaders must make plans to educate and supervise supporters so that they do not disrupt peace.
8. Parties and their supporters should respect the environment when posting or distributing materials.
9. Campaign meetings should be peaceful and without religious, tribal, ethnic or sexual discrimination. They should be conducted in Swahili and a translator used where Swahili is not understood.
10. Parties should not use religious sites to hold meetings or solicit religious leaders to campaign on their behalf.
11. Meetings should be used to publicize policy and not to create hatred, confrontation or division among the Tanzanians.
Democracy allows people to vote. It is therefore the responsibility of every qualified citizen to vote. People often vote because they want to bring about change. Electing a different political party or candidate to office can change the type of government.
The following are reasons why democratic elections are important:
1. They enable people to choose officials in political parties, and the central government or local governments.
2. Elections strengthen democracy in a country as the leadership is changed peacefully.
3. The country gets an acceptable government.
4. Through elections, the most popular representatives and party are put in power.
5. Through referendum, people vote for or against specific issues. This helps to decide on important issues in the country
6. They guarantee continuous representation and accountability of elected leadersto the society
The Indicators of Free and Fair Elections in Tanzania
1. Elections in Tanzania are held after every five years as per the Constitution.
2. There are many political parties that compete in elections for different vacant seats in the local and central governments.
3. All these parties are treated equally.
4. Every citizen has a right to vote if she or he qualifies.
5. Voting is done secretly. There is no one who is forced to vote for a candidate against his or her choice.
6. There are electoral campaigns in Tanzania. All contestants are given enough time to visit their areas of election. They publicize their policies and allow citizens to ask questions.
7. There is civic education for voters. This enables voters to be aware of their constitutional rights in voting.
8. There is political tolerance.
9. Results are respected. Those who have not won respect the results of the elections.
10. Election petitions are allowed. This is a means by which the election of a member of parliament or a councilor may be challenged in a court of law
B) ELECTION PROCEDURES
In Tanzania, there is an electoral commission which is responsible for general elections. Its main duties are to:
1. Supervise and coordinate the registration of voters in presidential, parliamentary and civic elections in the United Republic of Tanzania.
2. Supervise and coordinate the conduct of the presidential and parliamentary elections.
3. Review the boundaries and demarcate the United Republic into various areas for the purposes of parliamentary elections.
4. Perform other function in accordance with the law
C) CONDITIONS FOR CANDIDATES IN GENERAL ELECTIONS
Candidates are citizens who contest a seat in the elections. The candidate must qualify as per the provisions of the national constitution.
i) Conditions for Presidential Candidates
1. Be a citizen of the United Republic of Tanzania by birth.
2. Have attained the age of 40 years.
3. Be a member of and a candidate nominated by a political party be qualified to be a member of parliament or a member of the House of Representatives.
4. Should not have been convicted by any court for the offence of evading tax.
5. Be nominated by 200 supporters who are registered voters from each of ten regions, two of which must be in Zanzibar.
ii) Conditions for Parliamentary Candidates
1. Be a citizen aged 21 years or above, and can read and write in Kiswahili and English.
2. Be a member of and sponsored by a political party
3. Have not less than 25 sponsors who are registered as voters in the relevant constituency
4. Make a statutory declaration that he or she has all the qualifications required for being a candidate.
5. Deposit TSH 50,000 with the National Electoral Commission.
6. Should not have been convicted by any court for the offence of evading tax.
iii) Conditions for Voters
1. Be a citizen of Tanzania.
2. Be registered as a voter.
3. Be 18 years or above.
4. Be a person of sound mind.
5. Not have been detained in lawful custody within the preceding five years.
Demonstrating a Spirit of Tolerance by Accepting Constructive Criticism and Defeat
Registration is the process of being identified as a voter. A voters card must be obtained before voting. The purpose is to make sure that no one votes twice and that each voter is eligible to vote. Tanzania introduced permanent voters’ registers in January, 2000. Before voting the citizens register themselves in the voters’ registers so as to be assured of voting on the voting day. In this process, citizens should allow all people qualified to register as voters in a given area to do so. They should not try to stop some people from registering for fear that the said people will not support their
Campaigns are carried out as part of the initial election activities. During this time candidates of different parties hold meetings to tell people about their party and convince people to vote for them. This is one of the most charged stages of the election period. Citizens should accept that people hold diffeerent opinions and ideas. They should not try to force their ideas and opinions on others as this might lead to conflict. In case they disagree with the opinions and ideas of others, then they should express this peacefully.
Polling day is the day on which people vote in an election. The following takes place on polling day:
1. Once voters arrive at the polling station, they present their voters’ cards. Their names are checked in the voters’ register
2. Voters are given the ballot paper on which they cast their votes. They go into the voting booth. This is the place where they make their mark on the ballot paper.
Voters carefully read the ballot paper and place a mark (usually √) next to the party or candidate for whom they wish to vote for:
1. All votes are secret in the voting booth. There is no one allowed to see where the voter marks the ballot paper.
2. Voters place the folded ballot papers into the sealed ballot boxes.
3. The voters’ fingers are marked with a dye by an official. This is to make sure that
each person votes only once.
The voters show tolerance by obeying the orders and procedures of voting. They do not quarrel with each other even if they support different political parties or candidates. They do not, in any way try to stop any genuine voter from voting.
When voting is over at the polling stations, counting of votes begins. A designated official breaks the seal of the ballot box and opens the box in front of political parties’ agents and neutral monitors. Sometimes international monitors (observers) are present. Each ballot paper is examined and counted by a ballot clerk with the monitors watching and checking on the counting. The spoilt ballot papers are kept aside.
Tolerance is shown during this stage when the monitors and agents do not unnecessarily disrupt the counting process. As long as the process is transparent, the officials should be allowed to carry out the counting without disruptions. In case of a dispute, this should be solved amicably without using force or violence.
DECLARATION OF THE RESULTS
The results are announced on the spot. Party agents sign special result forms to confirm they have witnessed the vote counting process and accept the result. A copy of the results is posted outside the polling station. This is done to ensure transparency and avoid the possibility of election rigging. All results from the polling stations in a constituency are worked on by the area returning officer. He or she tallies them and announces the winner
Results for presidential elections are announced by the chairperson of the National Electoral Commission.
In the spirit of tolerance, defeated candidates should accept the results. Their supporters too, should accept the results. They should not engage in any form of violence against the winner and his or her supporters. The winners should also be humble in their win and avoid angering those who have lost.
These are elections which may be held to fill parliamentary or councilors seats which become vacant between general elections. By-elections are conducted when any of the following takes place:
1. A Member of Parliament or councilor dies.
2. A Member of Parliament or councilor resigns.
3. Parliament is dissolved before the end of its lifetime.
4. A member of parliament fails to dischage his or her duties.