Governing and opposition parties from east Africa will attend a Commonwealth forum in Tanzania next week to discuss their roles, rights and responsibilities in ensuring a flourishing democracy.
Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba will lead a strong delegation from the Commonwealth Secretariat to the event in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam. The forum, held in partnership with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), brings together representatives from parties and civil societies from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and the Seychelles.
The sixth in a series aimed at exploring the relationship between government and opposition parties and their contribution to the democratic process, the Tanzania forum will be co-hosted by the Speaker of Tanzania's National Assembly, Anne Makinda. Similar forums have taken place in the Caribbean, Southern Africa, Pacific, West Africa and Asia.
“A constructive partnership between government and opposition parties is essential to ensure that the democratic process can take effect. The government must acknowledge the democratic space for other viewpoints to exist, while the role of the opposition is to hold governments accountable in a constructive and legitimate way,” Mrs Masire-Mwamba said ahead of the Tanzania visit.
“The aim of this forum is to contribute to the creation of a constructive ‘partnership’ between government and opposition parties in each country. While they may be political adversaries, they share a common national responsibility and obligation of nation-building and advancing the prospects of real development – human, political, social and economic -- of the people of their respective countries. This can only be achieved if the political system works constructively for the welfare of all, not if it creates or exacerbates ruptures in society,” Mrs Masire-Mwamba added.
“We also seek to explore the ways in which other stakeholders -- from civil society, oversight institutions and media -- can further contribute to the development of the democratic process by ensuring transparency and accountability in public life,” she said.
Some 30 representatives of political parties are expected to attend the forum to be addressed by a list of leading political figures, including former Ghana President Jerry Rawlings, Speaker of Uganda's National Assembly Rebecca Kadaga and Speaker of Rwanda's National Assembly Rose Mukantabana.