Insider tips on influencing policy in Tanzania

Duncan Green recently shared a blog post with a number of insider tips on how policymaking works in Tanzania from Togolani Mavura, the Private Secretary to former president Jakaya Kikwete.  The whole thing is worth reading.

Key points include the importance of understanding the structure of government:

Which pathway to follow is another catch – parliamentary, thinktank, lobbying officials or civil servants – it depends on the particular policy that you are proposing. Some policies can only be imposed on the executive by the parliament; others emanate from the civil service; for others, you just go to the political party. The National Executive Committee of the ruling party in Tanzania has policy-making powers and can direct the government to act, so get your idea into the party manifesto ahead of the elections.

Taking policymakers’ incentives into account:

If, after years of trying, the government has not bought your idea, it is probably because:

– your idea or proposal is good but not good enough compared to those submitted by others

– you have not addressed the core interest, the self-interest, the ‘nerve centre’ of the individual policy makers or core interests of the respective institution e.g. your proposal may render that particular institution irrelevant or threaten their source of revenue.

Understanding whether local pilots are feasible:

Tanzania is a unitary system, not a federal system, so any programme has to be introduced in all parts of the country. And if it goes wrong, it can boomerang and trigger an electoral backlash for the party in power.

(Hat tip for the article to Tom Wein.)

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