The news that the government is reviewing its policy on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is as timely as it is propitious. This is basically in the sense that such a review was long-overdue. Undertaking it is opportune because Tanzania needs abreast of global changes in the management of such powerful bodies.
NGOs are non-profit institutions that operate independently of any government, typically addressing socio-political issues. More often than not, they are voluntary citizens, and groups organised on a local, national or international level.
Task-oriented and, in nature, people-driven, NGOs are there to perform various service-and-humanitarian functions that include bringing the concerns of citizens to governments, advocating and monitoring policies and regulatory frameworks that encourage political participation and inclusiveness - doing so mostly through the provision of information, analyses, expertise and guidance.
It is estimated that there are over 10 million NGOs worldwide - and for whom the UN proclaimed February 27 World NGOs Day. But, the fraternity is viewed with mixed feelings. While some societal segments see NGOs as a good thing that ever happened, others see them as a meddlesome lot, and a cash-cow for a few individuals.
On the whole, however, reviewing the NGOs regulatory system is most appropriate. This is with the objective of updating and otherwise improving the extant (year-2000) policy and (year-2002) regulatory frameworks into a truly functional framework.
But, against a backdrop of strained relations between the government and some NGOs that are perceived as too critical or meddlesome, this review should be done in good faith, with no malice à la witch-hunting.
There is a lot that can be achieved when the government and developmental NGOs are sincerely working side-by-side.
Stop ambulance abuse
The story of an ambulance driver who was caught red-handed transporting khat in Mara Region this week exposes major weaknesses in the fleet management of service and government vehicles. While this may have taken some people by surprise, the abuse of ambulances is widespread. This, apparently, is not the first such case as many drivers, especially in remote areas reportedly ride on a lax system to divert these critical service vehicles to personal use. The most shocking thing though is that there are cases where these vehicles are being used to transport illicit drugs. In this latest case, the ambulance at the centre of this wayward behaviour by drivers belongs to the Tarime District Hospital. It's sad that the driver chose to transport khat at a time when the vehicle was needed to transport a patient. Between a patient's precious life and ill-gotten money, the driver selfishly chose the latter. This is inhumane, to say the least. Hospital officials had to use a private vehicle instead. But the question that lingers is, what happened to tracking devices? There has got to be some way of monitoring these service vehicles 24/7. All in all, there is a big problem with fleet management by government departments. This has to be addressed soonest.