The Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania is the country’s supreme organ for legislation, oversight, budget approval and representation. It is the key accountability mechanism between citizens and the Government. In advancing participatory governance, the Parliament faces institutional and operational challenges that must be addressed if it is to be more effective, transparent, accountable and inclusive in its work. Some of the problems, which are not uncommon to other parliaments of the developing world, include inadequate physical assets, human resources and technological infrastructure at the main premises in Dodoma and in constituencies. Additional difficulties stem from the rather high number of new Members of Parliament (MPs), social distance between MPs and citizens, limited citizen literacy of the modus operandi of the Parliament and its committees, and limited access to and use of ICT in parliamentary activities. There is also insufficient gender analysis of legislation and budget, and in the oversight of the Government.
Towards a Solution
The Legislative Support Project II (LSPII) was conceived building on the positive outcomes of UNDP’s support to the National Assembly of Tanzania through the Legislative Support Project I, between 2011 and 2016. Aligned with the National Assembly’s own strategic priorities, the LSPII aims to strengthen the capacity of the legislative body to become more effective, efficient, transparent and inclusive, in line with regional and international benchmarks for democratic parliaments. The project encompasses five priority areas:
- Increasing the capacity of parliamentary committees to scrutinize bills, oversee Government and engage citizens;
- Enhancing the capacity of the National Assembly to analyze and oversee Government activities, budget and expenditure, including monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals;
- Strengthening functions and capacity for the representation of citizens’ interests in the National Assembly;
- Strengthening the effective engagement of the National Assembly in strategic leadership, transparency and external engagement; and
- Gender mainstreaming in all functions of the National Assembly.
The project has supported the development of instructive guidelines and toolkits on such issues as bill scrutiny, field visits, budget review, public hearings and the youth parliament as key instruments for improved parliamentary performance and public participation. The project has also supported the development of a gender strategy and a HeForShe strategy for the National Assembly.
Through South-South cooperation, the project has been supporting peer-to-peer exchanges, mentoring and coaching of MPs and staff, as means to foster the acquisition of practical and analytical skills. The benchmarking visits and the attachment of Parliamentary Budget Department staff to the Ugandan, Kenyan and South African parliaments have significantly contributed to the improvement of the capacity of the department in supporting the Budget Committee and the budget process. Through experiential learning, the trainees have been exposed to the workings of other parliamentary budget offices and have adapted best practices that are being applied in their day-to-day work. Committees have also improved their approaches to legislative and budget scrutiny. As a result, the project registered the following successes:
- Improved comparative experience on effective budget analysis and scrutiny;
- Enhanced capacity of the staff on research and data analysis to help them support MPs and relevant committees with information they need in legislative scrutiny, budget scrutiny and oversight activities;
- Improved public participation in an increasingly effective and inclusive committee system;
- Improved parliamentary performance through the deployment of ICT solutions towards the institution’s e-Parliament agenda; and
- Improved appreciation of the centrality of gender analysis and mainstreaming in legislative scrutiny as well as budget review .
Countries/territories involved: Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda.
Supported by: UNDP, UN Women, Embassy of Ireland, Embassy of Denmark, Embassy of Sweden and UK Department for International Development
Implementing entities: UNDP, UN Women and the National Assembly of Tanzania
Project Status: On going
Project Period: January 2017- December 2021
Name: Takawira Musavengana
Title: Chief Technical Advisor (Parliament), UNDP, Tanzania
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org