8 February 2018

East Africa: Dar Best Democracy in EAC

ADHERENCE to the rule of law under the Fifth Phase Government of President John Magufuli has propelled Tanzania to emerge the best democracy in East Africa and 13th in Sub-Sahara Africa, with the country recording an overall score of 5.47.

Kenya and Uganda have been ranked second and third in East Africa respectively while in Sub-Sahara Africa, they are on position 15 and 17, correspondingly, according to latest findings contained in the Democracy Index 2017 titled, "Free speech under attack". Speaking at a news conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the Director of Tanzania Information Services (Maelezo), Dr Hassan Abbas, said the index is based on five criteria namely the electoral process, civil liberties, the functioning of the government, pluralism, participation and political culture.

Kenya and Uganda had an overall score of 5.11 and 5.09 and were ranked on position number 95th and 98th, respectively, at global level. Mauritius was ranked the best democracy in Sub-Sahara Africa, clinching position number 16th globally.

The ranking was conducted by the Intelligence Unit of the globally celebrated magazine, 'The Economist' in which Tanzania was ranked position 91 out of 165 countries globally. However, the Index, which assesses the state of democracy in 165 independent states and two territories in 2017, has recorded the worst performance since the aftermath of the global financial and economic crisis in 2010.

"The findings of the index should be a wake-up call for government leaders and public servants that their services to the people are recognised and appreciated globally and hence the need to improve even more," Dr Abbas, who is the Chief Government Spokesperson, boasted. The Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index provides a snapshot of the state of democracy worldwide for 165 independent states and two territories.

This covers almost the entire population of the world and the vast majority of the world's states. Based on its scores on a range of indicators within these categories, each country is then itself classified as one of four types of regime: "full democracy"; "flawed democracy"; "hybrid regime"; and "authoritarian regime".

This is the tenth edition of the Democracy Index, which began in 2006. A special focus of this year's report is the state of media freedom around the world and the challenges facing freedom of speech. In a recent report by the World Bank dubbed, "Global Economic Prospects Broad- Based Upturn, But for how Long?," Tanzania was mentioned as among best top five performing economies, others being Ghana, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Senegal.

Meanwhile, Dr Abbas said the government is committed to ensure that the country's current economic status is maintained by implementing development projects. He reiterated that the country's impressive economic performance was of paramount importance -- and should be maintained to benefit all Tanzanians. "The government is committed to ensuring that the economic status is maintained by undertaking all the steps for managing its economic growth.

"Despite challenges in the economic growth worldwide, various international reports mention Tanzania as one among the best performers economically and democratically," he said. Dr Abbas noted on the other hand the government has already released over 200bn/- to settle internal debts owed topublic servants and other suppliers. According to Dr Abbas the funds would soon be released to the intended people after review of the debts.

Earlier last month, President Magufuli pledged to settle by this February all internal debts amounting to 200bn/- that the government owes teachers, contractors, service providers and other suppliers. "It should be clear, however, that the debts are internal arrears which have been duly verified ... I direct that proper preparations be made to release those funds ... and it's my hope that the money will stimulate the economy," he declared.

In another development, Dr Abbas has urged public and private institutions including higher learning institutions dealing with printing of newsletters to ensure they acquire licences in adherence to the Media Services Act 2016.

He warned that it is a criminal offence for any institutions to print newsletters and other publications without possessing a licence, stressing that plans were underway to carry out a special inspections in institutions

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