ALAT Chairman, who is also the Dar es Salaam City Mayor, Dr Didas Masaburi addresses a news conference last weekend on the forthcoming ALAT 27th Annual General Meeting to be held on the 7th to the 9th of May 2011 at Kunduchi Beach Hotel in the city. He is flanked by ALAT Secretary General, Habraham Shamumoyo. PHOTO/JOHN BADI
Local governments are the heart of Tanzanians' socio-economic development therefore, support in as far as availing new opportunities to champion poverty reduction is needed.
This was revealed by the Dar es Salaam City Council Mayor, Dr. Didas Masaburi, while addressing reporters on the forthcoming Association of Local Authorities of Tanzania (ALAT) General Assemble to be held between May 7th and 9th this year.
Focusing on this year's theme, “Public Community Partnership,” Masaburi said its main aim is mobilizing local governments to participate effectively in celebrating the country's 50 years of independence in partnership with the private sector.
In doing so, he said, ALAT is aimed at preparing councilors to carry forward implementation of the government program of decentralisation by devolution and charting means of carrying out strategies outlined in the President's speech to Parliament in November 2010.
In order to achieve the goal there must be improvement of socio-economic services by local governments, specifically the need to promote local economic development.
Dr. Masaburi who is also the chairman of ALAT said, “There have been promotion of public-private partnership (PPP) which enabled the private sector to be active in economic development but in order to make further extension of goods and services to the whole community it is now the right time to join forces by making a Public Private and Community Partnership”.
By considering the the importance of strengthening the association for more benefit of Local Government Authorities and the general public there is a deliberate determination to strengthen its branches especially at ward level.
“What is needed at this level is to make sure that the available structure, leadership and executive are empowered to enable them execute the responsibilities as stipulated in the ALAT constitution,” he said.
He added that the ward branch is the heart of the association hence councilors, the ALAT ward level chairman and other officials at such level are its members.
As the association brings together all districts, towns, municipals and city councils in Tanzania Mainland there are 133 urban and district councils unified by it.
The mandate of ALAT lies in its vision that is to have responsible and autonomous local government that effectively and efficiently deliver quality services and responding to the needs and priorities of the people.
However, its presence as far as decentralization is concerned is to be recognized as a representative body and voice of the local government that provides professional and technical services.
ALAT aims to be a representative body of local government authorities in respect of their rights and interests at national and international bodies, to engage advocacy and lobbying to influence policy change to enable evolution of meaningful local government system underpinned by principle of decentralization by devaluation.
Moreover, it has to foster and promote smooth local government development in Tanzania and to be a platform for dissemination of relevant information, best practices and experiences from national and international levels and to support services such as capacity building.
The history of functioning local government in Tanzania mainland is as old as country's history
starting with the Native Authorities Ordinance in 1926.
In 1972 the Local Government was abolished and replaced with a direct central government rule. The
reintroduction of the Local Government occurred in the beginning of the 1980s, when the
rural councils and rural authorities were re-established.
Local government elections took place in 1983 and the establishment of functioning councils in 1984. In 1993 the one party political system was abandoned and replaced with a multiparty
system of government and the first multiparty elections taking place in 1995.
Following the liberalisation of the political field was a major public sector reform which included a Local Government Reform Program (LGRP). The LGRP covered four areas: political decentralization, financial decentralization, administrative decentralization and changed central local
relations, with the mainland government having overriding powers within the framework of the Constitution.
This process of local government reform is still ongoing and its aim is to promote democratic,
accountable and autonomous local government authorities, with wide discretionary powers
and a strong financial base implemented by this year 2011.
Even though local government is a non-Union matter. It is nonetheless enshrined in the Union constitution as well as in the constitutions of the mainland and Zanzibar.
All in all, the objectives of the local government is “to enhance the democratic process within its area of jurisdiction and to apply the democracy for facilitating the expeditious and rapid development of the people.”
However, though in the current legislation with various functions been assigned to the local government, it seems that most services and infrastructure are still being provided by the central government or its executive agencies.