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Key findings
  • More than seven in 10 respondents (72%) say the level of corruption in Tanzania has decreased “somewhat” or “a lot” over the past year. This is a sharp reversal from 2014, when only 13% reported a decrease.
  • Similarly, seven in 10 Tanzanians (71%) say the government is fighting corruption “fairly well” or “very well” – almost twice the level of approval in 2014 (37%). Among respondents who have heard of the PCCB, 83% describe its work as “somewhat effective” (59%) or “very effective” (24%).
  • Popular perceptions of corruption in key public institutions have declined across the board. While 37% of respondents considered “most” or “all” Tanzania Revenue Authority officials corrupt in 2014, the proportion dropped to 14% in 2017. PCCB officials, local and national government officials, the police, judges, members of Parliament, and Presidency officials also enjoyed double-digit improvements in public perceptions of corruption.
  • Despite these gains, substantial proportions of Tanzanians still see corruption in their public institutions. More than one-third (36%) say most/all police officials are corrupt, while one-fifth (21%) say the same about judges and magistrates.
  • Seven in 10 Tanzanians (71%) say people fear adverse consequences if they report corruption incidents to the authorities, and only half (50%) think that ordinary citizens can make a difference in the fight against corruption.

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.

Jamal Msami

Jamal Msami is the co-national investigator for Tanzania

Lulu Olan’g

Lulu Olan'g is a freelance researcher and a PhD student at Nazarbayev University in<br /> Kazakhstan