RaiaMwema published an interesting bit of data journalism today, on it’s front page:
Open or closed? – From RaiaMwema 26/3/14
It’s the chart on the left that’s most interesting – it shows that just over half (54%) of the 268 people they asked said that they felt the Constitutional Assembly should make its decisions using secret voting, while 43% said the voting should be open. The issue has divided the assembly itself for a full month now – a final decision on the voting procedure has been repeatedly deferred.
Presidents Kikwete of Tanzania and Banda of Malawi
President Joyce Banda of Malawi is in a pickle. A corruption scandal has emerged on her watch, and she’s under pressure from all sides, quite possibly through no fault of her own. In fact, it may even be the case that she finds herself in this mess precisely because she has done something not far from the right thing.
So what happened?
A few weeks ago, an environment ministry official was found with £190,000 in the boot of his car, then the Budget Director – said to be on the verge of blowing the whistle – was shot three times outside his home. According to the Telegraph (not my usual source, but they were given an interview by Banda), 68 people have been arrested in the ensuing investigation, including the Ministers of Finance and Justice. The Minister of Justice has been charged with attempted murder of the Budget Director. The President has cleared out her cabinet, and said that about 30% of the country’s budget could have been stolen over the past decade. Thirty percent. Continue reading →
“Chenji ya rada imetolewa!” – “The radar change has been paid.” So tweeted Reginald Mengi early last year when British defence company, BAE Systems, finally paid £29.5m towards education projects in Tanzania. It was not a fine, there was no admission of guilt (beyond a minor accounting irregularity), certainly no admission of corruption. But it was, at least, a settlement that channelled some funds into Tanzania’s education system.
BAE were concerned both that “their” funds should be used effectively and that this effectiveness should be seen as clearly as possible. So they worked closely with the British government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Tanzanian government to come up with a project to distribute desks and textbooks to primary schools throughout the country – the Primary Education Support Project (PESP). Every primary school will get text books, and desks will be delivered to primary schools in every district.
The project has been up and running for some time, and books have already been arriving in schools in many parts of the country. We know this because earlier this week a new website was launched that shows which books have been distributed by which companies to which schools, all across the country. Continue reading →
President Kikwete made a bold promise last week, to enact a law that obliges the Tanzanian government to provide any information requested by citizens, with the exception of information relating to national security. You can see this for yourself, in this YouTube video posted by the President’s press office (the key section starts at 8mins 40 seconds):
President Kikwete at OGP Summit in Brazil, April 2012. Photo from ikulublog.com
Tanzania has made strong statements about the Open Government Partnership (OGP). It has also promised to deliver. When President Kikwete spoke at the OGP Summit in Brazil in April 2012, he said:
“I promise that we will do our best to live up to the expectations of this partnership to promote transparency and accountability of our government to the people of Tanzania. I wish to reaffirm that our political will to achieve the OGP goals will not falter because open government is at the heart of the contract between state and citizens”
But is Tanzania is living up to these bold words? The sceptics out there are not so sure. Continue reading →
Freedom of the press is a fundamental pillar of democracy, a cornerstone of good governance and accountability. Any restrictions on that freedom – which can in some cases be justified – should be handled with extreme caution and used only in the most extreme circumstances. These are not those circumstances. Continue reading →
Favourable press coverage in return for money? That sounds like corruption to me.
According to an announcement published in Mwananchi newspaper last month, it sounds like corruption to them as well:
“Ours is a journalism of integrity. … Our staff are expressly barred from accepting money or any form of payment or inducement for publication of news, opinion, or feature in any of our platforms. Such content … is published purely on merit.”
How many Tanzanian newspapers can say this?
How many newsworthy organisations and individuals – politicians, businesses, NGOs, etc. – operating in Tanzania can say they’re not part of the problem as well? (For every transaction there is a giver and a receiver.) Continue reading →