The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is launching an exciting new pilot program designed to more proactively involve subnational governments in the initiative. OGP is a 69 country partnership aiming to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. OGP is looking for subnational governments with committed political and working level reformers, and engaged and energetic partners in civil society, to take part in a pilot program designed to advance open government reform.
Kigoma, Tanzania was one of the subnational governments that successfully applied to engage directly with OGP in a pilot 'pioneer' program. Participants will receive dedicated assistance and advice from the OGP Support Unit and OGP Steering Committee to develop and fulfill independent open government commitments in action plans, in partnership with civil society organisations. They will actively contribute to peer learning and networking activities with other subnational governments. The commitments and short action plans developed by the pioneers will be assessed by OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM). The pilot will give OGP the opportunity to test and assess the IRM’s capacity to act as the accountability mechanism for subnational government participation.
The following text is from Kigoma's application letter, available in images below.
Ref. No. KUMC/A.20/48/12 Date: 20th February, 2016
Attn: OGP Steering Committee
Re: APPLICATION TO JOIN THE OGP SUBNATIONAL GOVERNMENT PILOT PROGRAM, FRΟΜ ΚΙGΟΜΑ UJIJΙ ΜUΝΙCΙΡΑLΙΤΥ ΙΝ ΤΑΝΖΑΝΙΑ
Kigoma Municipality is a town in western Tanzania. The town has a population of around 250,000 (2015 estimates; 215,000 being 2012 estimates) and is famous for linking Tanzania with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Zambia through its port on Lake Tanganyika. Kigoma is an exciting and vibrant town, a melting pot of cultures and opportunities from across the region*.
Under Tanzania's decentralized system of government, Kigoma Municipality is a Local Government Authority (LGA), under the control of an elected Municipal Council. LGAs, including Kigoma, have responsibility for a wide range of public services and economic matters, including primary and secondary education, health services, water supply, local roads, land-use planning and agricultural development,
Following the 2015 elections, the town is now governed by ACT Wazalendo, a political party that advocates for transparency in the running of the government at all levels. The party holds 20 out of 28 seats on the council, including the Mayor, Mr. Hussein Ruhava*. The leader of the party, Mr Zitto Kabwe, is also the Member of Parliament (MP) representing Kigoma town and has been an active participant of various OGP events in Tanzania. Mr. Zitto also attended the London OGP Summit in 2013. Mr. Zitto's engagements with OGP as both a set of principles and an initiative have contributed significantly towards the development of the core values underpinning the party, namely dignity, integrity and accountability. The same values are now being applied in the governing of Kigoma.
Tanzania has been a pioneer in the OGP, and Kigoma Municipality is committed to implementing the
Tanzanian government OGP commitments at the local government level. Kigoma has already taken steps towards achieving some of those commitments, and has taken steps that go further even than the national government. For example, the Municipal Council has established a regulation that all assets and liabilities of Councillors of the Municipality must be made public and posted online.
We firmly believe that Kigoma Municipality meets all the criteria for applicants to the OGP Subnational Government Pilot Programme, for the following reasons:
- Kigoma is ready and willing to ‘commit to respect the open government principles articulated in the Open Government Declaration.” As such, Kigoma Municipality, under the guidance of the Mayor Mr Hussein Ruhava and the local MP Zitto Kabwe, would like to join the OGP Subnational Government Pilot Program. Kigoma Municipality is keen to sign the declaration and would seek support from OGP to develop its own commitments over and above the national commitments that are already being implemented.
- In this regard, Kigoma Municipality has “commitment from the political leader of the subnational government and staff who can dedicate time to developing and implementing commitments in partnership with civil society.” We are proud to note that the MP for Kigoma town has already been dedicating his time to OGP matters since its inception. He worked closely with the civil society organisation Twaweza and its former head, Mr. Rakesh Rajani, and has strong relationships with both national and local civil society. In addition, the Mayor of Kigoma has committed to allocate a person in his office dedicated to OGP matters.
- Kigoma also has “a demonstrated track record of, or commitment to, open government, for example through open data, civic engagement, access to information, budget and fiscal transparency, participatory policymaking". We reiterate the example of the regulation requiring councilors to declare their assets and liabilities. The budget process in Kigoma - strives to be inclusive and transparent, during formulation as well as during budget implementation. We would like to get support from OGP to further ensure that citizens are more engaged and that open data and fiscal transparency becomes a norm in the running of the municipality.
- By this letter, we express our “interest in receiving direct, institutional support from OGP to co-create commitments and advance their open government reform efforts." Kigoma would be the first town in Tanzania to institutionally and politically support the open government agenda, and we recognize the value of receiving support and joining efforts globally.
- We have “experience of working positively with local civil society and a commitment to protecting civic space and engaging constructively with citizens outside government.” We are willing to commit to further expanding and protecting civic space in our town. As a municipality under an opposition party, we rely on close ties with citizens and with civil Society in order to deliver on our promises and our mandate. We look at OGP as an opportunity to further those ties and to ensure that accountability is institutionalized within the municipality.
- Kigoma town is designing and implementing a number of open government initiatives that could be of interest to sub-national governments around the world. We are very willing “to share experience and insights with our peers.” In addition to our asset declaration initiative, Kigoma is now designing a social security scheme with the World Bank Group in efforts to increase health insurance coverage to the majority of its people. We envisage mainstreaming open data and open government principles throughout this scheme, in order to ensure that transparency and accountability are instilled amongst the citizenry, at local government level, and with service providers. Similarly, we are “willing to take on a formal mentorship role with another subnational government after year one of the pilot program is complete.”
In support of our application, we enclose a letter from Twaweza, a leading Tanzanian civil society organization. Twaweza has been very closely involved in the OGP since its founding, both within Tanzania and at regional and global levels.
We hereby humbly submit this request that Kigoma town participate in the Subnational Government Pilot Program. We are happy to provide any additional information that may be needed. As the town's Mayor and Member of Parliament committed to ideas of open government, we are very excited about the possibility of our city joining the program. We assure you our full support and we look forward to your guidance.
Mr. Hussein Juma Ruhava Kabwe Zuberi Ruyagwa Zitto, MP
Mayor, Kigoma Municipality Kigoma Urban
CC: Kigoma Municipal Director
PO Box 44, Kigoma
Tanzania OGP Steering Committee President's Office
PO BOX 9120
Dar es Salaam
*To understand more of Kigoma and its vibrancy, see this song by artists from Kigoma, composed for their hometown in 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmxmdPwysqE
*Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org +255 753 623 600
Photo credit: Utalii.com http://www.utalii.com/Kigoma/