NGOs urge Tanzania to stop demonising civil society

The EU head of delegation to Tanzania Roeland van de Geer has called for a conducive environment for a vibrant civil society to promote democracy, good governance and accountability in the country.

European countries support about 10,000 civil society organisations in Tanzania, most of them promoting human rights, good governance and democracy.

Recently, Tanzania conducted a non-governmental organisation auditing that saw most of them delisted for either lack of transparency or non-adherence to the code of conduct.

This was criticised by rights groups, saying it could be used as a weapon to silence critical civil society groups that find themselves in bad books of the government.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam, Mr van de Geer said: “There had been an expression of the negative environment seeking to restrict freedom of expression and freedom of civil society. It is undoubted that the government has a duty to regulate and the civil society organisations have a responsibility to follow the regulations, the exercise of this duty should not have effect of stifling the role of civil society organisations.”

Onesmo ole Ngurumwa, co-ordinator of the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition, said that relations between civil society and the government are still unstable, adding that the government associates them with the opposition.

Mr Olengurumwa claimed that because of this, some public officials perceive civil society organisations and the broader non-governmental organisation sector as anti-establishment.

“I’m appealing for a change in attitude. We need government protection to operate. We stand for justice for all,” he said.


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