1.0 enable citizen participation in decision making, policy formulations,


In order to achieve efficiency, governments found the
importance of decentralizing authority by shifting authority from central to
local government so as to enable citizen participation in decision making,
policy formulations, other development affairs and   easier service delivery to the people.  According to Mallya, (2009) Tanzania
underwent different reforms in searching the real, practicable and effective
citizen participation mechanism until 1977, when enacted article 145(establishment
of Local Government Authorities and article 146 (the purpose of having Local Government
Authorities).  Later in 1982, Local
Government (District and Urban) Authorities was officially introduced under Act
no 7 and 8 respectively which aimed at empowering the people downwards to the
grassroots referring village/mtaa level governance.

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Governance is defined by Fukuyama (2013) as government’s
ability to rule and deliver services to the people regardless of the democratic
status in that particular community, organization or locality. In this view, it
comes a need for good governance
concept behind the reason that, governance, should therefore be implemented in
a democratic community.

UNDP, (2012) refers governance as when a country
exercises authority over economic, political and administrative to manage its
affairs at all levels.  Governance can be
defined in many ways in different perspective but all in all when there is full
authority over a certain defined group or community is referred to as

Village/mtaa governance, is therefore defined as the
grass root governance which is implemented at the village/mtaa. In the governance
hierarchy of Tanzania, village/mtaa is the smallest unit found at the ground
level which forms a state.  

This paper will discuss governance at the grassroots
especially the Mtaa governance as the writer visited a mtaa which known as
Kinzudi found in Goba ward of Ubungo  Minicipality-Dar
es Salaam hence will grasp some arguments from the Chairperson, MEO and one
among members of the Mtaa.  The
discussion will pass through theories guiding governance at this level, the
structure, citizen participation in decision making, mechanisms available to
hold leaders accountable, the effectiveness of the Mtaa assembly and lastly
will be the recommendations to improve governance at the mtaa level.


2.0       Discussion

2.1       Theoretical Framework

There are number of theories related to governance,
but the following have been distinguished as a guide for governance at the
grassroots (village/mtaa) in this paper.

2.1.1    Decentralization Theory of Governance.

The main assumption of this theory is to shift
authority from the central to the lower levels of authority to ensure,
accountability, local people’s participation and easier service delivery.
According to Mbate, (2017), to decentralize is to make a government more
responsive and bring government closer to the citizens because people are
enabled to participate in decision making, it also builds up political
competition, organizational structure and citizens are in a confident position
to hold their leaders into account. In its perception, when government it
centralized, the local population is seeming to be very far to decision making process
hence being driven by the central government, but with decentralization, the
citizens ‘feel’ themselves as a part of government.

Ringgold, Holla, Koziol and Srinavas, (2011) confirms
the response of decentralization of political, financial and administrative
roles from central to the locals in more than a half of African countries that
has increased accountability and transparency hence efficiency. This theory
gives an emphasis to decentralize so that to achieve good governance at the
village/mtaa level, because is the best the local people can be incorporated in
the process of governance, and of-course, central government’s good practice
and achievements depend much on the grassroots’ proposals and satisfaction.

2.1.2 The New
Public Management Theory

The theory’s emphasis is achieving greater efficiency,
and to achieve this, according to Koppenjan, (2015) public governance has to be
taken as “a market governance”. This advocates to shift from maintaining status
quo and taking citizens demands for granted instead take it as a ‘business’
which efficient outcome and output is counted much, actually, no successful
business can be done centrally, it needs to be distributed to the lower levels
as much as possible to efficiently succeed, and this is where the notion of
local governance comes because it goes down to the grassroots (village/mtaa).   

Miller and Dunn, (2006) gives out a number of
principles of ensuring efficiency through the New Public Management/governance from
Osborne and Gaebler (1991) such as; government’s responsibility to deliver
public services, the government to be owned by the community, competitors which
trigger new ways of providing better public services and increase citizen participation.
These are what the Mtaa/ village governance, is expected to achieve.


2.1.3    Participatory Theory of Governance

This theory emphasizes on the importance of citizens
to engage in the political process and decision making in connection to their
needs. When citizens participate in the governance process, it means that they
are involved to influence the development and affairs of the Village/Mtaa
affecting them either directly or indirectly.

According to Fischer (2012), participatory governance
needs the real citizens’ participation so that they contribute their ideas in
policy formulation, decision-making and express their needs such as priority in
provision of social services etc and achieving participation, is achieving
democracy hence good governance. At the grassroots, it is where social needs
and problems starts hence it is therefore important, participation builds the
sense of trust and good will towards the government and make them feel they a
part of the process.


2.2       The
Mtaa Governance Structure

The Mtaa governing
structure established under section 14(1) of the Local Governance (Urban
Authorities). According to Njunwa, (2005) the Mtaa structure is consisting of the
Chair Person who is elected by the Mtaa resident members, Mtaa Executive
Officer (MEO) and then there are Mtaa Committee which includes Safety and
Security, Education, Health care, Environment, Women and Children, Water and
Dispensary. The Mtaa organizational structure is
perceived as the grassroot government 
which is more close to the people hence, peoples needs, priorities,
decisions  and other affairs are to be
discussed and dealt with from there upwards.




Members Elected

Section 14 (1) of the Local Governance (Urban Authorities) Act No.8 of 1982 and


2.3       Citizen Participation in Decision Making

Citizen participation is important because is what
influences decision making at the Village/ Mtaa level of governance and its
impact goes upwards to the higher authority. Chaliga, (2014) calls for active
participation at the village/mtaa assembly meetings behind the reason that it
is what improves the quality life of the citizens. One can imagine the
importance of participation that, if citizens do not communicate their needs
and priorities then how the government knows. Ofcourse, participation is a ‘self- mobilization’ as Mollel, (2010) suggests, local leaders should play
this part to ensure they mobilize citizens to participate actively. Cahn and
Comper (1968) argues for the advantage of citizen participation that brings
about awareness of the prevailing information, hence contributes to reach a
valid decision and solution to the problems.

However, the reality is that, citizens do not actively
participate as proved by Chaliga, (2014) in his study that only 22% of the
population do participate in planning, policy formulation and village/mtaa
assembly and the rest do not.  Also the
Kinzudi Mtaa Chairman, interviewed about citizen participation he said that, by
experience, people in town especially in Dar es Salaam, do not real participate
fully in Mtaa decision making process which leads to the Mtaa government to
lack constructive ideas which sometimes force to reach to poor decisions which
affect the majority and ultimately, you hear them claiming!


2.4 Mechanisms
Used to Hold Leaders into Account

According to Njunwa, (2005), identified leaders at
Mtaa level are the chairman of the Mtaa (elected by citizens), Mtaa executive
Officer (employed or appointed by higher authorities) and five members who
forms the Mtaa committees. These leaders have to function and ensure the total
governance at the Mtaa goes smoothly and in harmony. According Mallya (2009), there
are a number of ways which can be applied to hold these leaders into account
such as political, legal, ethical/moral and administrative view, public

For the leaders except the VEO/MEO (who is a
government employee) are to be accountable to the citizens because it is them
who elect them and the mechanism to be used is the assembly. According to Art
29 (1) of the Local Government (Urban Authorities) Act, the Chairperson must
conduct the Mtaa assembly at every after three months and if at all he doesn’t,
 the citizens have to act their social
accountability towards these leaders and  to depose him/her from the office. But this is
impractical in many areas because as expressed by one of the Mtaa member
(Mjumbe) from Mtaa of Kinzudi-Goba that, citizens in that particular locality do
not show up when called for the assembly in which they are not aware even if
these assemblies are carried out or not, a situation which lacks accountability
measures against those leaders who defaults and that is why even in- effective
leaders survive hence poor performance.

Also voting is another mechanism, citizens also uses elections by voting against the incumbent
candidate if at all he/she did not perform during his/her reign. This was
stressed by a citizen who was around the Mtaa executive office, who said that “we
always watch them, if they don’t serve our interests, we vote for another
person from another party”.

On the part of the Mtaa Executive Officer who is a government
employee, automatically he/she is accountable to the District executive officer
and other normal administrative procedures such as Code of ethics and conduct
for the public service, and the Constitution of United Republic of Tanzania.


2.5 Effectiveness of
Mtaa Assembly as Mtaa Bunge

The Mtaa assembly is an important legal organ of the Mtaa
governance established under section 29 of the local government (Urban
Authorities) Act No. 08 of 1982. The ordinary meetings as per the act, has to
be conducted at least once after three months and held at a convenient place following
the geographical condition and accessibility of the Mtaa locality and it is
headed by the Mtaa chairperson and for it to be if an authority, it shall constitute at a half
of the Mtaa members and it shall be open to the public and the media as well (Art.
341(1)) of the Local Government (Urban Authorities).  

The meeting members are the residents aged eighteen years and
above are to attend the meeting (www.pmoralg.go.tz). The citizens aged eighteen
and above are perceived to be adults that can have positive and constructive
contributions in any prevailing issue in the meeting. The meeting enables residents
to discuss different issues related to their affairs such as income and
expenditures, security and other development issues (Kesale, 2017). From this
view therefore, should the citizens known the importance of the assembly, could
have been making efforts to attend.

The chairman of Kinzudi-Goba, was  interviewed whether these assemblies are
effective and he replied that Mtaa assembly still is not effective due to the
following reasons: –

First of all, most of the citizens do not attend despite the
prior information of the meeting through banners and oral methods and the
reason behind is that most of the town dwellers work in diverse places of which
some work throughout the day and others return very late, hence the attendees
becomes very few whose quorum is not appropriate and if at all then you wait
for the quorum then no meeting/assembly will be possible. He confirmed to
recently conduct a meeting of only 70 people out of more than 10,000 residents
in his locality.

Another reason which was emotionally presented out was the
political influence. He said that, people’s turnout depends on which political
party the chairman and member’s come from; hence the opponents think that
active attending meetings means paving them a way for the next election, that
being a case therefore, they refrain deliberately from showing up the at assembly.

On the other hand, the Mtaa   Executive
Officer confirmed that, these assemblies are really not effective because
citizens do have negative perceptions towards the Mtaa governance viewing them
as corrupt and very bureaucratic unnecessarily, hence they have no trust that
even their time and ideas in the assembly will not be worked up on.

It was also observed that only uneducated and poor citizens do
attend meetings, educated people (even the civil servants) and business men do
not attend these meetings because they think the Mtaa governance have nothing
to do with them because most of them have influences upwards. For example, the
chairman of Kinzudi said that, in his locality, there are a number of
businessmen and civil servants such as directors, CEOs, doctors, teachers, lawyers
and other NGO staffs, they get assembly information in time, but they do not go
for the proceedings while they are present in their households. From this reason,
decisions are poor and are not visionary because are made by uneducated people.

Another reason for ineffectiveness of the Mtaa assembly is
ignorance. Most of the majority of the residents do not well understand the
importance, roles and functions of these assemblies, so they have no reason to
turn up for. This is dangerous governance indicator which can also affect the
central government and the government as a whole.


3.0       Recommendations for Improving Governance
in the Mtaa

To improve governance at mtaa level, the following
recommendations should be taken into account: –

Firstly, Mtaa government leaders (especially those elect ed
ones) should ensure they take trouble to get close to the citizens so that they
educate them the importance of the mtaa assembly particularly those whom they
perceive as educated as so that they bring out their rational and constructive

Secondly, the civic education curriculum should incorporate the
meaning and importance of local governance to ensure children at the very
minute level, are imparted this knowledge hence it sticks and work as they

Thirdly, the mtaa governance leaders (especially political
elected by citizens), after they have entered the office, should work away
their political differences and serve all citizens equally.

Fourthly, the mtaa leaders should ensure creativity, accountability,
transparency, openness, fairly and timely serving people to rebuild trust from

Fifthly, it could be better to initiate some procedures bind
citizens to attend the mtaa meetings for them to be practical and meaningful.

4.0       Conclusion

The mtaa governance is very important and it real means the
government in the hands of the people hence it is the people who will result
good or bad governance at higher authority. It therefore a call for the
government to empower and enable citizen real participation for effeteness and
efficiency because everything starts from the grassroots.




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