AD178: In Tanzania, anti-corruption efforts seen as paying dividends, need citizen engagement

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Level of corruption in the country | Tanzania | 2014-2017
Dispatches
2017
178
Lulu Olan’g and Jamal Msami

The government of the United Republic of Tanzania has stepped up its game against corruption, with greater publicization of anti-corruption efforts, shored-up law enforcement, increased judiciary budgets, and expedited adjudication of corruption cases (John, 2016; Daily News, 2017; Citizen, 2016; Guardian, 2017).

Since 2014, high-profile arrests and charges have targeted members of the ruling elite and top public officials, including the successful 2015 prosecution of two former senior cabinet ministers on corruption-related abuse-of-office charges (Tanzanian Affairs, 2017; Citizen, 2015).

Such noises are not new in Tanzania, which has seen too many false dawns in the past (Gray, 2015; Machira, 2013). Yet the current drive shows no signs of abating. In 2016 came the indictments of key actors in the infamous Tegeta Escrow scandal, as well as of the head of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (Tanzanian Affairs, 2017). The drive has also focused on petty corruption, with the suspension or dismissal of public officials and changes in key personnel in most law enforcement agencies. In addition to launching Phase III (2017-2022) of its National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan (United Republic of Tanzania, 2017), the government has established the Economic, Corruption and Organised Crime Division of the High Court (John, 2016). and the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) recently reported recovering some US$ 26.9 million in public monies during the past two financial years (Xinhua, 2017).

These intensified efforts against corruption in Tanzania have begun to pay dividends in public opinion, Afrobarometer's most recent survey suggests. Improvements in the government’s handling of corruption in public office appear to have reduced citizens’ perceptions of institutional corruption in key public agencies. Still, fighting public corruption remains a challenge in Tanzania, in part due to fear of retaliation against people who report it.

The survey results suggest that government efforts against corruption have produced notable gains, but more needs to be done to promote the participation of the public in the fight against corruption.