Translated and edited from an article by Lone Loklindt, Camilla Hersom, Christian Scharling og Henrik Brade Johansen
The Danish Social-Liberal Party and the Tanzanian Civic United Front met in Dar Es Salaam earlier this month, for a capacity building seminar to share experiences and discuss issues, such as fighting corruption, budget planning and monitoring, cooperation with media and civil society, initiatives to increase employment, being in the opposition, as well as women and youth involvement in politics.
The Danish social liberal politicians Lone Loklindt, Camilla Hersom, Christian Scharling and Henrik Brade Johansen participated in the two training seminars for newly elected members in Parliament, the Districts and City councils, as part of the partnership between the Danish Social Liberal Party and the Tanzanian party CUF.
Each of the two seminars lasted for two days. The first seminar was for CUF’s own trainers – a total of 20 – who had to ready themselves to train CUF’s newly elected members of the district and city councils. The second seminar was for the 43 newly or re-elected members of Parliament, of whom 11 were women.
The Social Liberal’s contributions the Seminars
Henrik talked about Denmark, our political system and history and drew comparison, between Denmark and Tanzania, which has a population 10 times the size of Denmark, an area 20 times the size of Denmark, and gives birth to 30 times as many children as in Denmark, while Denmark has a GNP 40 times the size of Tanzania. Henrik also introduced some consideration as to why there is hardly any corruption in the Danish public administration or among politicians, who misuse their political posistions for personal gain.
Lone spoke about women’s participation in politics, arguing that after the historical achievement of women gaining the right to vote in Denmark in 1915, it took more than 70 years before 30% of the elected were women. This percentage of female representation is believed to be the necessary critical mass. It is due to this that Tanzania, like many other African countries have introduced ‘Special Seats’ for women in Parliament. Out of the 11 elected female CUF members, 10 got their seats in Parliament due to this arrangement. This led to discussions about how CUF selects these women, and what is needed for more women to successfully stand in elections. Lone argued that while there are still inequalities in Denmark with regard to wages, retirement savings and women in leadership positions, the welfare system in Denmark provided more security on the home front and enabled better access to education and inclusion in the workforce. It was quickly agreed at the seminar that equal participation in democracy necessitates equality in society.
Camilla talked about the Social-Liberal Party, and what it means to be in the opposition in Parliament, as well as in government through coalitions. While there are differences between being in opposition in Tanzania and in Denmark, due to CCM’s dominance, particularly two points stroke a cord with CUF. Namely, the meaning of equal rights, as well as seeking out partnerships with other parties in Parliament and in the district and city councils. CUF’s own motto is ”Haki sawa kwa wote”, which means ”equal rights for all”.
Christian, who is the chairman of IFLRY (International Federation of Liberal Youth) spoke about international liberal cooperation and youth involvement in decision making. Christian highlighted that CUF’s and the social-liberal values are a part of an international movement. Across cultures, religions and backgrounds, there are like-minded people who engage in a network, and the possibilities for youth in CUF to become involved were elaborated on. The importance of involving youth is particularly relevant in Tanzania, where people under the age of 18 make up more than half of the population. This provides challenges with high levels of unemployment and crime. It is crucial that the youth feel a sense of co-responsibility for the decisions, that are made politically and that they are trained to think independently.
Overall the social-liberals felt that the visit and seminars had been a success with learning on both sides. And the relevance of the partnership was particularly highlighted by one newly elected MP who stated: “We were three who visited Demark in 2013 and we learnt so much, that we were all capable of winning in our constituencies in October 2015!”