During its 2014 Annual General Meeting (AGM), Policy Forum (PF) secretariat arranged for a field visit aimed at familiarizing its upcountry members with the work of key government institutions that it has been closely working with. For 2014, the National Audit Office (NAO) and the Commission for Human Rights and Good governance (CHRAGG) were selected for the familiarization tour.
The field visits were done on day one of the AGM in the afternoon where two teams were formed, one to visit the NAO and the other to visit CHRAGG.
At the NAO, members were warmly welcomed by the Controller and Auditor General (CAG), Mr. Ludovick Utouh, together with the whole management team. An opening speech was made by the CAG followed by presentations which aimed at familiarizing members of the work by the office. A special focus was on the recent initiative by the CAG on advancing public participation in the audit process in Tanzania.
Fruitful discussions were held on how the NAO can collaborate more effectively with CSOs. The CAG pointed out that his office appreciates working with CSOs and is highly expecting that CSOs will publicise the work of his office as well as exert pressure to help ensure that audit recommendations are worked upon by the government. It was highlighted by the CAG that CSOs and the general public can suggest possible areas for special audits so that at the end there is increased accountability on the part of the government and that public resources are wisely spent to achieve quality services.
The meeting also helped demonstrate to upcountry members the rationale of Policy Forum joining the NAO multi-stakeholder Ad Hoc Working Group which aims to explore practical ways of improving knowledge and understanding of both NAO and demand side actors (CSOs) and the contributions they can make to the audit process. Moreover, the working group aims to develop consensus on the roles and responsibilities of CSOs and NAO in a collaboration that makes the audit process more accessible to citizens. The meeting was of particular interest for members undertaking Social Accountability Monitoring (SAM) and Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys (PETS) as the working group also aims to suggest ways in which these tools can enhance the performance auditing process.
At CHRAGG, the Commissioner Ali Hassan Rajab welcomed PF members and reiterated that the institution has an open-door policy so civic actors can visit the Commission at any time.
During the meeting, the Director of Human Rights Division, Mr. Francis Nzuki presented to members the structure and the history for the establishment of the Commission and said that CHRAGG is an independent and constitutionally established government institution. He highlighted the functions, successes, boundaries as well as the challenges the commission faces. The major challenge that outlined a key context for members, is budgetary constraints which he said limit the commission’s ability to perform its responsibilities effectively.
Despite these constraints, CHRAGG and Policy Forum have had a number of collaborations including producing publications and organising Breakfast Talks. In a ceremony in 2013 to launch a joint CHRAGG-Policy Forum publication on good governance aimed at sensitizing both leaders and the community on the subject, the Deputy Minister of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Hon. Angellah Kairuki said she was proud to be associated with the collaboration considering her ministry was responsible for good governance issues.
Both courtesy calls were an opportunity for CSOs and these government institutions to explore effective ways of working together. It was also an opportunity to brainstorm on how sharing experiences of each others’ activities can help the institutions work in harmony with civil society. It is expected that the terrain will become smoother with progressive quality engagements like these.
During a debriefing session the following day, PF members agreed that the dialogues were key milestones in the constructive engagement between the two government institutions and an important move towards CSO participation in audit process as well as advancing the importance of taking a human rights approach to Social Accountability.
Policy Forum cherishes collaborations with other organisations as it creates opportunities for its members to learn from others and to expand knowledge within Policy Forum. It is also a means for the network to further its strategic objectives and demonstrate solidarity with like-minded organisations.
Click on the attached links to view the presentations that were made at NAO:
- Advancing Citizens Participation in Audit Process in Tanzania