Three charts from Twaweza’s latest Sauti za Wananchi brief, on corruption.
First, how do Tanzanian citizens see corruption now compared to ten years ago?
And second, how familiar are Tanzanians with the big corruption scandals of the last few years?
Tanzanians overwhelmingly said corruption was worse now than ten years ago. This is a perception, and it could mean either (a) that people are now more exposed to news sources that report on corruption, or (b) that corruption is indeed worse than it was ten years ago. It is probably a bit of both.
The second chart shows that while significant numbers of Tanzanians had heard of the major corruption scandals of recent years, even more were unaware of them. Only in the case of Richmond did more than half say they had heard of the scandal – bad news for CCM presidential aspirant, Edward Lowassa.
The second chart is also a useful reminder that many people in Tanzania do not follow the news agenda very closely. And that even among those who do, the details of the stories are not well known.
A wise man once said to me that the media doesn’t tell you what to think, but it does tell you what to think about. These two charts could be seen as supporting that idea: the media has got corruption onto people’s agenda – they see it as worse now, and they’re vaguely aware of particular scandals – but it hasn’t got people to understand the details.
Is the fact that there seems to be very little accountability for these big scandals connected to the fact that the public don’t understand the details? Perhaps the effect of media reporting on corruption is only that the public become cynical, while those responsible go unpunished? Or are the media themselves holding back, too tied up in high level politics to really follow through on the stories, as Zitto Kabwe suggests?
And finally, the third chart – can anything be done to reduce corruption in Tanzania?
Just over half said corruption cannot be reduced at all.
And though it’s not shown here, 70% said they thought the opposition would not do a better job of fighting corruption if they were in power.
So the media puts things on the agenda but doesn’t solve them, and people have little faith in either the government or the opposition to bring about change.
On this score, let us hope that the people are wrong.