GORVENANCE and CORRUPTION in TANZANIA: 1995-2005 (Summary)

By, Policy Forum [The author of this summary-- is the founder of Tanzania Development Research Group (TADREG)

6. Political corruption

Lack of research makes it difficult to make any firm statements on the nature or incidence of political corruption in Tanzania . Analysis of power relations is particularly difficult in a context where informal relationships and networks dominate. According to Hyden, ‘personal deals' rather than ‘formal rules' are what ‘matter in the inner chambers of power whether it is inside CCM or at cabinet level.' Personal deals ‘are evident in many contexts' and they ‘pre-empt any attempt at bringing greater public accountability and transparency in public policy. They also put brakes on official reform efforts.'

Corruption in elections includes:

•  Corruption in nominations. CCM's preferential voting system is alleged to be corrupted by vote buying at all levels

•  Corruption in registration. Registering under-age voters ( Zanzibar ), selecting electoral officials through patronage, double registration

•  Corruption in campaigns. Abuse of takrima , dubious door-to-door canvassing, donations from businessmen individually and in groups

•  President, Vice-President, Prime Minister use public resources for party political ends, promising benefits to communities if they vote for them, threatening punishment if they do not.

The powers of the presidency

Formal presidential powers are very extensive. The president appoints regional and district commissioners, who represent the ruling party. He appoints a number of members of parliament and has many opportunities to exercise patronage in his appointments. Yet the President does not exercise unlimited powers, nor can he make authoritative decisions on issues of grand corruption without support from his advisors and close associates.

In a survey shortly after President Mkapa came to power, nearly half the respondents (48 percent) were positive in their assessment of his government's anti-corruption performance, while over a third (35 percent) were negative. Seven years later, half the respondents in a REPOA national survey saw ‘no evidence' that the government was serious about fighting corruption, although there was still a large minority (40 percent) that thought the government was ‘doing its best'.

Opinions continue to be largely positive on President Mkapa's personal performance, including his anti-corruption policies. Eighty-eight percent of respondents in the Afrobarometer survey (2000) were satisfied with Mkapa's leadership, and nearly three-quarters agreed with the statement: ‘rather than protecting his friends, President Mkapa will fight corruption wherever he finds it.' The second Afrobarometer survey (2002) found that Tanzanians trust their president more that any other citizens in East and Southern Africa trust theirs.

7. Governance, corruption and reform

The government is implementing numerous policies, programmes and projects aimed at redefining core government functions, improving efficiency in the use of public resources, and creating a conducive environment for private wealth creation. These can be classified as: strengthening public institutions, increasing accountability within government and to the public, divesting the state of responsibility for industrial, financial and commercial services, and improving economic regulation.

Institutional strengthening

Civil service reform

The civil service has been ‘downsized' from 355,000 in 1992 to about 270,600 in 1997 following a policy of retrenchment, reduced recruitment in relation to retirement, and the elimination of ‘ghost workers' from the payroll. In June 2004, there were 282,000 public servants on the government payroll, which is less than half the sub-Saharan African average as a proportion of the total population. Consequently, the wage bill-to- GDP ratio was a modest 4.3 percent in FY2002/03

From 1993 to 1998 average real civil service salaries increased by three-quarters in real terms, although the average hides the fact that many grades have lost out. In 1999, salaries rose by over half, largely as a result of increases for technical staff and higher cadres. Average salaries are still considered inadequate to meet basic needs, leading to widespread ‘petty' corruption.

De facto wage increases result from the practice of paying allowances. During FY01/02-03/04, allowances increased by 135 percent , the equivalent of 22.5 percent of the total wage bill over the three years. Sitting allowances and payments for aid-funded, short-term consultancies and assignments constitute other salary supplements.

Transparency and accountability in public finance

Low levels of transparency, predictability, and accounting for public expenditure are among the major causes of inefficiency and corruption in government. The Public Expenditure Review and Mid-Term Expenditure Framework processes are said to have improved the efficiency of planning and budgeting. Cash budgeting and the use of a central accounting computer system have reduced expenditure irregularities.

Development agency reports conclude that a lot of progress has been made in recent years in improving the quality of public finance management, as an aspect of ‘good governance', but that there is still a long way to go. An IMF report concludes that: ‘Tanzania has a sound system of formal rules for financial management and many of these rules have recently been updated and strengthened, however issues of non compliance, limited execution, inadequate monitoring, insufficient capacity and lack of enforcement need to be resolved.


The 2003 joint procurement review concluded:

•  [the review team noted] ‘several instances of breaches of confidentiality and collusion between the procuring entity and bidders, leading to competitors' bids being revealed before the official opening and bidders being allowed to replace their own bids based on that information.

•  Evaluation reports are generally of poor quality. In many cases award criteria other than those listed in the bidding documents are applied.

•  Despite huge discrepancies between the law and actual practices, a relaxed attitude towards the enforcement of existing rules prevails.

•  On all major steps of the procurement process, [there is] a gap between the existing legal framework and the practices followed. … monitoring and enforcement of existing rules are almost non-existent. This is the case for procurement on both central and local level, as well as in the parastatals.

•  The Central Tender Board on one hand participates in the procurement procedure by issuing, executing and approving tenders and on the other hand monitors the same procedures.

•  Lack of capacity is the single most important issue in the sector.

A Public Procurement Bill received Presidential assent in February 2005. This legislation moves the regulatory function from the Central Tender Board to a newly created Procurement Regulatory Authority.

‘Horizontal' accountability: checks and balances

Legislation and internal regulation

In Tanzania , there is a large body of legislation , administrative regulations, codes of conduct and other administrative initiatives to control corruption.

Declaration of assets. On coming to power, President Mkapa declared his assets, and obliged his cabinet to do the same. Equally famously, the Attorney General announced that there was no legal requirement for public declaration of assets. There were no public declarations of assets after the 2000 elections. An Ethics Secretariat was established in 1995 under the Public Leadership Code of Ethics Act. About 5,400 ‘leaders' are covered by the Act. These return an annual declaration of assets to the Secretariat. Declarations are not published or freely accessible to the public.

The Good Governance Coordination Unit (GGCU). The GGCU implements the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plans (NACSAP). Since October 2000, government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) have developed their own action plans designed to promote transparency, simplify rules and procedures and make information accessible to the public. NACSAP also contains a civil society and media component. The government intends to ‘roll out' NACSAP to local governments. Already stretched to collate and analyse information at the national level, it is unclear how GGCU will cope with the additional workload involved in ‘going to scale'. A perusal of MDAs' self-appraisal shows a wide interpretation of what their action plans contain, and a tendency to be overly generous in their self-evaluation

The Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG). The CHRGG replaces the Permanent Commission of Inquiry in 2003. In a recent case, the Commission found against two district officials who had ordered and carried out the destruction of villagers' homes and property in order to expand a game park. So far, the government has failed to act on the Commission's ruling, which raises the question of whether the Commission has any teeth.

Parliamentary oversight

Available information suggests that parliament and parliamentary committees are under-resourced and virtually powerless in the face of the executive. Parliament has little or no influence over the budgetary process. Legislation is rushed through parliament without MPs having time to understand it or comment on it. During the period covered by this report, ruling party discipline has been imposed on parliamentarians in the interest of showing a united front to the opposition. It is claimed that five recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC) reports have not been debated by parliament.

Ruling party members of parliament benefit from generous salaries and benefits in exchange for loyalty to leaders and policies. Salary and allowances amount to nearly $1,500 a month. In addition, at the end of this parliament they will receive lump-sum payments of $15,000-$25,000, depending on their length of service. Parliamentarians sometimes embarrass the government by raising ‘sensitive' issue.

Corruption prevention and investigation

The Prevention of Corruption Bureau (PCB) is better known for its investigative than its preventive role. PCB lacks independence to prosecute cases of suspected corruption. Since 1995, the PCB has enjoyed increased funding from central government and donors, allowing it to hire more staff and expand its regional activities.

Observers see the PCB as lacking independence from the government, which prevents high-profile investigations from being taken to court, even where (or especially when) there is massive evidence of corruption. Even the ‘small fish' appear to get away with acts of petty corruption more often than not. Very few complaints end up in court, and the majority of those that do are either dismissed or lost. The government is stalling on the legislation that would allow the PCB to bring cases to court without requiring the prior approval of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The judiciary

The judiciary is widely considered to be corrupt and inefficient, and justice is routinely delayed and denied. Corrupt politicians and businessmen are rarely identified, indicted or punished. The judiciary is bureaucratic, passive, and incapable of forcing decisions on the government.

In a summary of numerous service delivery surveys, PO-PSM found that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents considered Primary Court officers to be corrupt. The author concludes: ‘Most troubling is the low honesty ratings given to the institutions responsible for upholding ethical standards: in particular, the Industrial Court , Judiciary, and Ethics Secretariat.'

Supreme audit

The Controller and Auditor General ( CAG ) audits central and local government accounts (see above). The CAG has permanent officers based in all important line ministries. Critics claim the CAG 's annual reports are incomplete, published too late, and widely ignored by accounting officers. Donor aid has improved the promptness of reporting and extended coverage. But the annual reports cited above are still widely ignored by the executive and top government officials. Permanent Secretaries are not held responsible for the misuse of government funds.

‘Vertical' accountability

Civil society

NGOs and CBOs provide services to members or to a wider public, and may also serve as public watchdogs of central and local government. Political liberalisation has led to an explosion of donor-funded civil society organisations of both service provision and watchdog varieties.

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the level of collective engagement by civil society in a number of government processes, including the Public Expenditure Review, the development and monitoring of the Poverty Reduction Strategy and various sectoral activities. Some senior officials reject the legitimacy of civil society as an independent voice challenging government on policy or governance issues. They argue that NGOs are self-appointed whereas the government is elected, they are foreign-funded and therefore probably following foreign agendas, for instance on issues of democracy, and are not well placed to criticise the ‘governance' of others.

A recent development is the official incorporation of civil society organisation in the ‘fight against corruption.' The goal of the National Triangular Partnership is ‘to establish and run the civil-society backed parallel feedback support mechanism for NACSAP [see above] to effectively alleviate corruption in public service delivery, business and administration.' While some see this move as a logical step in the development of the anti-corruption movement, others argue that civil society should keep its distance from the state in order to play its ‘watchdog' role more effectively.

Corruption and the media

The private press emerged in the late nineteen-eighties as part of the process of political liberalisation. According to the International Press Institute's May 2005 report on the Status of World Press Freedom, ‘ Tanzania is among 50 countries in the world with ‘partial press freedom'. Only seven African countries are considered to have a free press.

Neither state nor private radio and television stations seem noticeably pro-active in covering corruption issues. The print media are somewhat better.

Economic governance reforms

Tanzania has made substantial progress in moving away from a state-centred to a market paradigm. This process is still incomplete: there are still some big corporations awaiting full divestiture, a few cooperative unions are still obtaining bank credit, and marketing boards mix the functions of market regulation and commercial participation. Economic regulation continues to be cumbersome, multi-layered and corrupt. Still much progress has been made in the twenty years since Tanzania received its first structural adjustment loan from the International Monetary Fund.


Since 1993, most parastatals have been closed down or privatised. Major parastatals still to be privatised include the National Microfinance Bank, National Insurance Corporation and TANESCO.

Privatisation of state corporations provides new opportunities for official corruption. Regulation of ‘natural' monopolies like power and domestic water supply is easily corrupted, and not just in Tanzania .

In the case of a few relatively protected commercial enterprises, privatisation h as been an unqualified commercial success. Tanzania Breweries Ltd, Tanzania Cigarette Company, Kilombero Sugar Company, and the three cement factories are cases in point. The end of the Tanzania Telecommunications Company Ltd's (TTCL) telephone monopoly has introduced much needed competition, with connections to the three private mobile phone companies far outnumbering TTCLs land lines. After a protracted struggle, most of the country's banking activities are now in private hands, with largely positive results.

A number of management contracts , as opposed to out-and-out sales, have provided increased efficiency, cash-flow and profitability. For example, the Dar es Salaam harbour container terminal has been successfully taken over from Tanzania Harbours Authority, with a massive improvement in container turn-around times. However, management contracts are often criticised on the grounds that expatriate managers are paid too much, their local counterparts are exploited and marginalised, profit repatriation is excessive (even ideologically unacceptable), the new managers fail to deliver on their contractual agreements, and for other reasons.

Executive agencies

The Executive Agencies (EA) concept has been widely applied in Tanzania . There are major problems with this concept, as experience in Tanzania and elsewhere demonstrates. Regulating requires capacity and probity, the widespread absence of which justified setting up in the first place. When a central government service unit is restructured to compete with private providers for contracts, it is unlikely that competition will be fair.

More important, EAs may have apparent autonomy, but in practice the parent ministry retains key controls over crucial activities, including the award of contracts. TANROADS is a case in point. Despite (because of?) the availability of money from the Road Fund (financed from an earmarked fuel tax) many of Dar es Salaam 's heavily used roads are still maintained and repaired in a profoundly casual and perfunctory manner.

A review of EA performance showed that, of the services on which sufficient data are available, 8 have improved while 6 have remained static or deteriorated. While services may have improved overall, state subsidies have increase as has agencies' overall expenditure. There is little evidence of improvement in service quality, or that competition improves performance.


The Investor Roadmap to Tanzania (1997) estimated that the average delay to start operations in Tanzania was 18-36 months. The Roadmap documented the lengthy procedures that investors have to follow. The main constraints on investors are:

•  High transaction costs;

•  Land availability and registration;

•  Delays for a telephone or water connection;

•  Work permits;

•  Import clearance process;

•  Operational requirements- average 89 filings a year;

•  Outside Dar es Salaam- procedural constraints are especially daunting;

•  In case of default banks cannot take control of collateralised property;

•  Instability in the investment climate

The constraints on investment listed above mean that it is extremely difficult for businesses–particularly manufacturing operations–to survive in the current investment climate.

Government policy has been to simplify and streamline these procedures. Bureaucracy and corruption continue to discourage investors, however. The concerns voiced by local and foreign investors do not appear to change much with time. Establishing the ‘one-stop' Tanzania Investment Centre to reduce the time required setting up a business to a few days has done little to redress the situation.

Despite a formal business-friendly policy commitment, the real world of rent-seeking and bureaucracy continues to frustrate attempts to translate policy into practice. The failure of reforms in sector after sector is evidence of a major ‘disconnect' between formal policy-making and policy implementation on the ground.

Agriculture market regulation

Under heavy pressure from donors, the government liberalised export crop marketing during the late 1990s, but reversed the policy thereafter, passing legislation giving virtually unlimited powers to a new set of crop boards. Crucially, boards regulate markets in which they themselves compete as commercial players.

Most of the boards' revenue is from levies on farmers and trading licences. Most of this is spent on administration and the cost of the boards of directors. Boards are supposed to represent all stakeholders. In practice, they tend to represent the government.

Other opportunities for large-scale rent-seeking in agriculture are: food aid, loan-financed projects of various kinds, the management of counterpart funds, European Union export compensation payments, and input procurement.

Private sector lobbying

A number of general and specific business umbrellas lobby government on behalf of their members. The impact of formal lobbying is limited by numerous factors, including the racial heterogeneity of ‘the' formal private sector.

8. Tanzania in international perspectives

Numerous comparative studies over a number of years give insights into national standards of public corruption, citizen voice, peace and stability, effectiveness of government, rule of law, and openness to foreign trade and investment. These studies are based on perceptions, not actual measurements, and are subject to significant margins of error. The errors are reduced by summing results from different surveys.

Tanzania 's performance on the Corruption Perception Index compiled by Transparency International has improved significantly in both absolute and relative terms. In absolute terms, Tanzania 's score has improved by 47 percent over the last seven years. Whereas in 1998, Tanzania scored only just over half the average CPI score for the sample, in 2004 it was almost 90 percent. In relative terms, Tanzania has moved away from the bottom of the sample to just below the middle.

A World Bank Institute (WBI) database of 209 countries also shows that Tanzania 's performance has improved significantly in recent years. For example, whereas only 15 percent of countries in the database performed worse than Tanzania on corruption control in 2002, in 2004 the comparable figure was 35 percent. In other words, Tanzania has moved 20 percentage points up the global ranking.

WBI data indicate no statistically significant change in ‘voice and accountability' and ‘government effectiveness' (quality of social services). On the negative side, there has been a slight deterioration in the rule of law, and significant deteriorations in political stability and economic regulation. These findings are subject to significant margins of error and should not be taken too literally.

9. International dimensions of corruption and crime

Poor countries, Tanzania included, routinely complain when they are singled out for their high levels of official corruption, arguing that the big bribe payers are international companies who bribe to win contracts. The evidence suggests that active and possibly pro-active collusion explains these deals, not unilateral external impositions as suggested by the ‘who pays the bribes?' discourse. In other words, both sides are at fault.

The liberalisation of trade, capital and financial flows has been accompanied by ‘liberalisation' of international crime and corruption. The international dimensions of corruption most frequently mentioned in the literature are money laundering, and smuggling of natural resources--gold, gemstones, timber, game trophies--arms and drugs.

In early 2002, the Bank of Tanzania circulated an internal memo to local banks instructing them to monitor 48 individual and corporate bank accounts that could be linked to financing international terrorism. Liberalising financial transactions through bureaux de change is said to have facilitated money laundering by Tanzanian ‘businessmen' involved with Indian, Pakistani and Gulf-based ‘criminal groups' of drugs and gold smugglers. External pressures to monitor international financial transactions have increased in the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2002 .

Smuggling gold and gemstones has been a major feature of the ‘informal' natural resource sector for many years, and formalising these activities has been a key objective of public policy. Comparisons of official exports of Tanzanite and other gemstones to Europe and North America with import figures show huge levels of underreporting. A major joint venture involving the Tanzanian Ministry of Defence and South African investor cost the Treasury many millions of dollars in foregone revenue and ‘contingent liabilities'.

Tanzania is considered a transit point for drugs produced in Asia and destined for South Africa , Europe and North America . A report issued by the International Narcotics Control Board in 2000 ‘showed that Dar es Salaam was among the main drug entry points in Africa south of the Sahara .' Young Tanzanians of both sexes are regularly caught smuggling drugs to Europe and Scandinavia .

Though the consumption of hard drugs is said to be increasing in Dar es Salaam and on Zanzibar , the main illegal drug produced and consumed locally is marijuana. Tanzanian law classifies marijuana as a ‘Class A' drug, carrying punitive sentences even for possession. Law enforcement officers are widely involved in the marijuana trade. Although the police arrest some producers and traders from time to time, this has little or no effect on the availability or price of the drug.

Criminalisation and state capture

Some writers have claimed to detect a tendency towards ‘the crimilalisation of the state in Africa '. A popular theme in the literature on post-Soviet Union Eastern Europe is the virtual ‘capture' of the state by criminal mafias. To what extent, if any, has the Government of Tanzania been ‘captured' in this way?

Press reports and unverified/unverifiable word of mouth popular beliefs link various ministers and other senior leaders, children and close relatives with the following criminal activities: smuggling (drugs, gemstones, currency), protecting criminals (drug smugglers, corrupt foreign investors), natural resource plundering (timber, ivory, marine fisheries); embezzlement (misuse of aid receipts, fictitious health treatment abroad, bogus tenders), and tax evasion.

Certain types of businessmen (and women?) prosper in Tanzania with the protection of senior members of the system. There is a general lack of research on the relationships between the various segments of the business community on the one hand and the party and government on the other.

To date, the Tanzanian state has not been ‘captured' by any mafia-style criminal gangs, local or international.

10. Conclusions

Information gaps on trends in the quality of governance and the incidence of corruption make it difficult to draw firm conclusions from this review. Comparisons with other African countries suggest that: (1) Tanzania does well in terms of political stability , though there has been some slippage in recent years, particularly in Zanzibar; (2) Tanzania has improved significantly in corruption control in the last 5-6 years, moving from near the bottom to near the middle of the African pecking order; (3) Tanzania does not do so well as regards government accountability to citizens, and (4) government effectiveness in service delivery , which continue to be mediocre; there also seems to be little or no progress in. (5) the rule of law and (6) the quality of economic regulation .

In recent years, by comparison with other African countries, Tanzania seems to have made significant progress in combating corruption. This, at least, is the conclusion from comparisons based on the perceptions of (often quite small numbers of) local and external ‘experts'. ‘Corruption' for this group means corruption in government-business relations. This contrasts with the perception revealed by nationally representative surveys that corruption is, if anything, on the increase in relation to service provision and maintaining law and order . The government is reluctant to increase public access to information and downward accountability to citizens.

Grand corruption

There is broad agreement that the government of President Mkapa has marked up major successes in terms of reigning in the excesses of the Mwinyi years (1985-95). Reversing the abuse of aid money and poor revenue collection are cases in point. Yet a relative improvement does not solve the problem of grand corruption in procurement and contracting, waste in public investment practices and the large-scale misuse of public monies from local and external sources. These continue to constitute a tremendous drain on public resources and do not allow for complacency on the grounds that Tanzania is ‘winning the war' against corruption, as some senior government officials would have us believe.

Petty corruption

Numerous reforms are underway to improve governance and reduce corruption in government. Yet considerable evidence presented in this report suggests that the government has not been successful in addressing petty corruption in service delivery. If, in the short- to medium-term, aid transfers increase significantly in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals, both grand and petty corruption will have to be dealt with more successfully than is currently the case.

Political corruption

Tanzania benefits tremendously from a relatively low level of violence in the political process, and, related to this, a governance system that manages to rise above the country's ethnic, religious, regional and cultural divisions. These frequently mentioned attributes limit the extent to which public resources are diverted for purposes of political corruption, or to quell popular unrest. The move to competitive politics has not fundamentally undermined these attributes, though they are by no means unassailable in the medium- to longer-term.

Disputes over Tanzania 's rich and varied natural resources have not led to the systematic corruption, plunder, violence and social disruption that are common in other countries.

The other side of the ‘peace and unity' coin is an extremely unaccountable executive, and a state bureaucracy that provides mediocre social and economic services, protection of property and citizens' rights. According to some critics, political competition has resulted in less, not more, freedom of public debate, with the executive systematically preventing parliamentary discussion of overly ‘sensitive' matters and oversight of public expenditure, and greater public access to information. Increasingly, the executive appears to be frustrating the necessary improvements in governance and anti-corruption that are the fundamental preconditions for poverty reduction and broad-based growth.

The role of donors

Many believe that ‘good governance' and anti-corruption policies and programmes are largely donor-inspired and therefore lacking in local ‘ownership' and commitment. They are seen as half-hearted reactions to donor pressures rather than determined attempts to deal with the routine abuses of power and authority that continue to plague the country. In a word, there are no authentic national, anti-corruption politics. Naturally, other observers, and aid recipients, dispute this view.

The report presents both ‘pro'- and ‘anti'-aid arguments, but leaves open the question of whether, on balance, aid supports or undermines efforts to improve governance and accountability, and reduce corruption. Whatever the case, there is no cause to see aid as essentially or inevitably a force for good, if ‘good' is taken to mean supporting the creation of viable public institutions.

One critical view is that government policy and donor aid are overly focused on the ‘supply side' of service delivery, ignoring the need for greater downward accountability and less asymmetric access to information. While there is merit in this argument, it is still a major objective of donor support to strengthen the internal accountability mechanisms within state institutions.

Aid agencies do themselves no credit by ignoring or accepting examples of bad governance and corruption that undermine both national development efforts and the rationale for donor support.


P.S. This summary is adapted from: Brian Cooksey 2005. ‘Corruption and Governance in Tanzania : What does the literature say?' report for the Governance Working Group, Dar es Salaam , June

May God bless Tanzania!


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