People of Mbeya awakened to follow up public funds

Following training program on Public Expenditure Tracking System (PETS) held recently in Mbeya Region by a CSO, Jitambue Lembuka Tanzania, more citizens have been awakened to make follow-ups on the utilization of public funds.
This went hand in and with actualization of the fact that failure to question on the expenditure of public funds in development projects does create a room for some unfaithful local government officials to misuse the funds - leading to poor implementation of development projects.
Jitambue Lembuka Tanzania Executive Director, Saimon Mkanya, associates mismanagement of the public funds allocated for development projects in various communities with corrupt practices among political leaders and government officials.
Mkanya believes that it has become easier for both political and local government officials to engaged in corruption since the alleged culprits know for sure that there is no one to make follow up on them. “It is therefore our responsibility to question our leaders,” he remarked during the training.
After having realized the unsound engagement between the public, political leaders and government on PETS issues, Jitambue Lembuka Tanzania (JTL), through funds from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS), had organised a training program to strengthen effective citizens’ engagement in planning and tracking of public expenditures in agricultural sector, in Kyela district.
Mkanya says the first activity during the training was to educated participants on their rights to participate and monitor the expenditure of public funds. The training had directly benefited 60 participants from ten wards of Kyela – namely: Matema, Ipinda, Mwaya, Ipande, Ikimba, Itope, Ngana, Katumba Songwe and Kajunjumele.
After the PETS training, beneficiaries of the program were a good witness that fruits of the program does not just end at the level of the organisation, but also spill over into the entire community.

One of the beneficiaries of the training, Gwandumi Mwaipyana, who is a resident of Kajunjumele ward says now he has the knowledge and ready to monitor public expenditures that come into play in their locality, but has some reservations.  
“Here in our villages we know each other very well since we live quite close to one another. So there is always some kind of fear developing - that those being monitored can turn out to be enemies, but we will move on,” he says.
Isakwisa Mbwate hailing from Ipinda ward says the training has helped him to understand that he has the right to monitor all public funds in their localities and that it’s the responsibility of an elected leader and government officials to provide progress reports to the public.
A resident of Makwale ward, Joshua Mbwilo says despite the fact that they now have the knowledge on PETS, the main challenge remains at the side of district council officials who do not want the public to know how they spend the public funds. But given the knowlegde on PETS he is optimistic that their awareness will help to shape their leaders and make them fulfill their responsibilities.
But for Mbwilo and his colleagues see the the knowledge on PETS as a continual process such that they urged our grantee Jitambue Lembuka Tanzania to extend the knowledge as far as to the village leaders. “If we know our civic rights and they also know their responsibilities then we will definitely cooperate and work out plans for the development of our communities,” concludes Mbwilo.

PETS exercises key for community development

The Executive Director of Pugu Poverty Alleviation Agency, Mr. Abraham Silumbu, says citizens are to blame for poor utilization of public funds done by the government executives since they do not often conduct Public Expenditure Tracking System (PETS) exercises. The organisation is a grantee of the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS).

Silumbu made the remarks recently when speaking on the importance of conducting PETS exercises in the country.

He urged citizens to make sure that they monitor public funds periodically instead of sitting back and wait for development.
“Being able to conduct PETS exercises will help them know the truth and take action against unfaithful executives. This will help strengthen transparency in utilization of public funds and other resources,” he says.

He also says that the blame should be on the society for not participating in PETS exercises, which contribute to bad utilization of public resources.

Mr. Silumbu says, the government has been open to give guidelines on how to conduct PETS but the citizens are the obstacle in implementing it.

A guideline was given on December, 2009 by the Prime Minister’s office (Local Governments) which requires the community to monitor PETS, says Mr. Silumbu.

He adds that the community has been complaining on the bad utilization of public resources but they have not shown any effort to demand on their right to know.

He says that through funds from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) his organisation has provided awareness on the same in Kitunda, Kivule, Msongola and Pugu wards in Dar es Salaam.

CSOs urged to help bring peace, development in Great Lakes Region

The Permanent Secretary at Foreign Affairs Ministry, Mr. John Haule, has urged Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to help governments in the Great Lakes Region to bring about peace, stability and economic development.

Mr. Haule made the remarks while opening a two-day Civil Society Forum on the Great Lakes Region held in Dar es Salaam on 23 April. The forum was facilitated by the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS).

“I urge you to use this opportunity to engage with the ordinary people to participate in peace building and development processes of this region. This forum is the people’s opportunity to give out their views and comments on how to achieve these goals,” said the Permanent Secretary who was the guest of honour at the forum.

Mr. Haule also urged CSOs to use the forum as a bridge through which the ordinary people can engage with their governments in bringing about positive changes in the region.

He also charged CSOs in Tanzania to take a lead role in realising the goals of the Great Lakes Region as stipulated in the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region which was signed during the International Conference on Great Lakes Region held in Nairobi.

“Tanzania should offer a bigger contribution in this process, similar to its geographical size and the number of its people in the region,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Executive of Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation and the outgoing chair of CSOs forum on the Great Lakes, Mr. Joseph Butiku, advised members of the CSOs to bring forward all their grievances and other pertinent issues so as to be dealt with and forwarded to the governments for implementation.

On his part, coordinator of an NGO on Great Lakes issues - ACCORD, Dr. Patrick Kanyangara, urged CSOs to ensure that citizens’ interests are taken into account, and consider that the CSOs’ time to engage on Great Lakes issues has come.

He also advised CSOs to help improve conditions of politically marginalised people, to suggest concrete agenda items in democratisation, to offer situational analysis on the root-cause of regional problems, send out early warning to emerging crises as well as taking pro-active role to push the regional governments to take actions in conflict resolutions.


Coast Region urgued to set aside budget for the disabled

Councilors in Kibaha rural, Coast Region have been argued to give priority in their budget allocations to disabled persons groups so as to give them the ability to stand on their own instead of depending on the donor funding.

This was said in mid April by the Executive Director of Youth Partnership Countrywide (YPC), Mr. Israel Ilunde, at a one-day workshop organised by Tanzania Association of the Deaf (CHAVITA) in Kibaha rural district funded by The Foundation for Civil Society.

Ilunde says that the groups of disabled have been dependent since they are not given a priority in the budgetary allocations prepared by the councils, condemning them as beggars while they have the ability to earn a living when given funds to run their own projects.

The executive director of YPC asked the district council to see the possibility of resolving their problem and providing them with the necessary funds since at least everyone in the special group is capable of working and become independent.

Coordinator of the organisation, Samwel Stanley, says it is good for every person in the community regardless of their physical status, whether disabled or able bodied, to be involved in development plans and hence get rid of complaints.

CHAVITA secretary in Kibaha district, Mussa Khalid, explained to the participants that the organisation has been striving to provide education to the disabled groups with an objective of giving them the opportunity to recognize their position.

Albino girl evokes tears with lyrics against the killings

Well-done lyrics have the power, arguably arousing feelings that lead to some infectious and irresistible tears.  Thus, the last day of the joint monitoring tour the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) projects in Mwanza and Geita regions, on 4 April, was scheduled to hear testimonies at the Tanzania Albino Society (TAS) – Mwanza branch.

The issue of stigmatization and the killings of the albinos had dominated the session. It was simply emotional, to put it in perfect words.

This time around participants of the joint tour of projects were treated with yet another powerful presentation – crafted with a perfect song performed by an albino girl, Upendo Mahenya. It depicted the mental and physical pain that the albino community living in the lake zone come to grips with.

Upendo’s low tone lyrics summed up what TAS seeks to impart as a lasting change in the community - to condemn and campaign against a growing tendency that threatens the lives and welfare of the albinos.

It is on record that the albino killings or rather chopping of their body parts are the most recurrent in the lake zone, mostly associated with witchcraft beliefs. Businessmen are said to be colluding with ‘fake’ witchdoctors to make some concoctions (made of albino parts) so as to help the former break their evens and gain profits in business.

“We have kept on educating the community to understand that giving birth to an albino child is not a mere curse or a result of sleeping with demons. Anyone can have one – subject to genetical make-up,” said Alfred Kapole, who is the TAS chair at Mwanza branch.

Thus, as for Upendo the wonders of genetics still got unleashed, and she could be a good example of how genetics works at it best. She is a mother of a normal baby boy that has no congenital absence of pigment in the skin and hair.

Singing emotionally in front of participants of the joint monitoring tour of FCS projects in Mwanza, it was simply irresistible as some were held in tears for a moment.

Circulating some horrific pictures to the visiting team associated with brutality against the albinos in the region, Mr. Kapole said since 2006 a total of 15 albinos have been brutally murdered in the region, mainly associated with witchcraft.

“We are perishing... and left in deep pains following these albino killings. We are also humans...” sings emotionally Ms. Upendo while her almost one year-old baby boy stares at her while performing.

Joining their course in quest for justice against the killings, the FCS Executive Director, John Ulanga stood up and declared the FCS intention to support Ms. Upendo in recording her song at any better music studio, so much that it can set a bigger public outcry against the vice.  

Left for a moment with no words after the presentation, the FCS member of the Board of Directors, Mr Adam Simbeye said: “From what I have heard, you have done a very good job to involve religious leaders. The killings are very much interlocked in people’s beliefs, and this issue can well be addressed religiously. And if I can ask do you have access to legal aid or are you a member to NGO networks here?”

Responding, TAS Mwanza branch secretary, Mashaka Tuju says: “Our organisation is a member to NGO network in Mwanza but have of late joined in the taskforce of registered witchdoctors so as to push the agenda for the de-registration of the ‘fake’ witch doctors who are purportedly behind the killings.”

“We urge more support so that we can reach more people in the rural areas to condemn against these killings. Stigmatization is still very high among the albinos in the villages such that many of our colleagues are even forcefully exposed in direct sun shine in the hope of turning black,” said Mashaka.

“In rural areas it is also believed that we as albinos do not die rather we disappear mysteriously and people do not want to associate with us. I think our interevion as TAS to be limited in urban centeres is not ideal at all,” reckons and concludes Mashaka. 

Participants of the joint monitoring tour comprised of some FCS board of directors and the management, as well as representatives from the development partners and the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children. The Development Partners represented are the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) na the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC).

The joint visit is normally prepared to enable the development partners get a feel of projects being implemented by the FCS through their basket funding.


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