Podcast: Aidan Eyakuze (Twaweza) on the crackdown on civic space in East Africa

March 13, 2019 2 By Duncan Green


Earlier this week I grabbed a few minutes with Aidan Eyakuze, one of East Africa’s most prominent civil society leaders. The topic (what else?) was the crackdown on civic space under way in Tanzania, where Aidan runs Twaweza, a brilliant NGO that works across the region.

Tanzania’s previously liberal and vigorous environment for activism is now being reshaped by an increasingly authoritarian government – Aidan had his passport removed soon after Twaweza published an opinion poll showing a dip in the president’s popularity. Points that struck me about this interview:

  • The nuanced approach of government: if a CSO is providing useful feedback on government services, or otherwise working ‘with the grain’ of authority, then things are fine. The moment you go against the grain, watch out.
  • Aidan’s call for CSOs to become more reflective about their own legitimacy and transparency.

Interesting and important stuff. Apologies for the sound quality on my side, but at least you can hear Aidan clearly, which is the main thing.

Here are some of Aidan’s previous writings on the blog:

The government outlaws fact checking

What is Civil Society for?

And a nice piece about how Twaweza is attempting to ‘walk the line’ of shrinking space