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Key findings
  • Across 36 African countries, fewer than half of respondents say they trust their MPs (48%) and local councillors (46%) “somewhat” or “a lot.” Among 12 public institutions and leaders, MPs and local councillors rank eighth and ninth in public trust.
  • Large majorities say at least “some” of their MPs and local government councillors are corrupt, including one-third of citizens who see “most” or “all” of these elected representatives as corrupt. Across 18 countries tracked over the past decade, public perceptions of corruption have increased for both MPs (by 8 percentage points) and local government councillors (by 6 points).
  • A majority (59%) of citizens say that officials who commit crimes “often” or “always” go unpunished. In 18 countries tracked over the past decade, this perception has increased by 13 percentage points.
  • Fewer than half of Africans approve of the job performance of their MPs (45%) and local government councillors (49%). Disapproval is especially high among citizens who see their leaders as driven by personal ambition rather than public service, as corrupt, or as uninterested in what their constituents have to say.
  • More than two-thirds (69%) of Africans believe that political party leaders are more concerned with pursuing their own political ambitions than with representing the people’s interests.

Members of Parliament (MPs) and local government councillors are elected to represent their constituents. In a functioning democracy, these office-holders are expected to represent the public interest and to be accountable to those who elected them.

How well do African citizens think their elected representatives are fulfilling their roles? How do constituents perceive their political leaders’ integrity, their responsiveness, and their commitment to serving the public interest?

Findings from Afrobarometer surveys in 36 African countries suggest considerable room for improvement. While assessments vary by country, overall public trust is low, perceived corruption and official impunity are on the rise, and most people say MPs and local councillors aren’t interested in listening to their views. More fundamentally, a majority of Africans believe that political leaders are more concerned with advancing their own ambitions than with serving the people.

Job performance ratings reflect these concerns: Almost half of all citizens disapprove of how their MPs and councillors are doing their jobs, and disapproval is even higher among those who see their elected officials as motivated by personal ambition, involved in corruption, or unwilling to listen to their constituents.

Click ‘Download now’ for the full report. For the press release, click here.

Rose Aiko

Rose Aiko is a researcher for REPOA in Tanzania.

Hervé Akinocho

Hervé Akinocho is the director of the Center for Research and Opinion Polls – CROP, based in Lome in Togo.

Prof. Mogopodi Lekorwe

Mogopodi is the Afrobarometer national investigator in Botswana