Tag Archives: accountability

Chart(s) of the week #7: There’s more to the constitution than the union question

Some charts from Twaweza’s latest Sauti za Wananchi brief this week, asking Tanzanians about their views of the second draft new constitution – the one that’s supposed to be under discussion by the Constituent Assembly in Dodoma at the moment.

This survey was conducted in parallel with a similar survey on Zanzibar, Wasemavyo Wazanzibari, run by the International Law and Policy institute (ILPI).

The survey did ask about the hot topic of the moment – the Union between Tanzania mainland / Tanganyika and Zanzibar – but I will focus instead on some of the other issues raised in the draft. Because we should not forget that these are also important.  Continue reading

Chart of the Week #3: Open or closed voting, via RaiaMwema newspaper

RaiaMwema published an interesting bit of data journalism today, on it’s front page:

Open or closed? - From RaiaMwema 26/3/14

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.

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Who would want to be a President? Lessons from Malawi

Presidents Kikwete of Tanzania and Banda of Malawi

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

BAE radar “change” website: transparent accountability?

pesptz.org home page

pesptz.org home page

“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

Right to Information in Tanzania: now the real work begins

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):

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Bold commitments, disappointing delivery: Five challenges for Tanzania and the OGP

Kikwete at OGP Summit in Brazil, April 2012. Photo from ikulublog.com

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

A step backwards on the road to democracy

"In order that a paper is not closed down. Obama: we envy Tanzania's economy. Mafia declines aid. Tanzania supports Japan."

“To avoid closure, papers should write like this. Obama: we envy Tanzania’s economy. Mafia declines aid, they have no problems. Tanzania supports Japan.” From Mwananchi, October 2010.

Tanzania trades on its reputation as an “island of peace,” (relatively) well governed, (relatively) democratic, and (relatively) peaceful. It is getting harder and harder to justify that reputation.

On Saturday, two of Tanzania’s leading newspapers – Mwananchi and Mtanzania – were suspended from publication by the government (unofficial English translation), Mwananchi for 14 days and Mtanzania for 90.

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