Corruption is common in all Government services, say citizens

  • Three out of five citizens who recently interacted with the police asked for a bribe 

5 August 2014, Dar es Salaam: Citizens view corruption as very common or somewhat common in all Government service sectors, including the police (94% of citizens), politics (91%), health (82%), tax (80%), land (79%), education (70%), local government (68%) and water (56%). NGOs are also perceived to be corrupt by more than 50% of citizens; the only sectors seen to be less corrupt are business and religious organisations.

These findings were released by Twaweza in a research brief titled Have more laws, agencies and commitments against corruption made a difference? People’s perceptions of corruption in Tanzania. The brief is based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative mobile phone survey that polls households across Mainland Tanzania.

Aside from perceptions of corruption, Twaweza researched when citizens are actually asked to pay bribes. Again the police emerge as key culprits: out of those that have recently interacted with the
police, three out of five citizens (60%) report that they were asked for a bribe. Only two out of five (41%) report paying the bribe and an additional 2% paid bribes without being asked. The second most common form of corruption comes when people are looking for a job: one in three (34%) people were asked for unofficial payments when they last looked for work.

However citizens often stand firm; bribes are solicited much more frequently than they are given. Only 1 out of 10 report paying bribes for jobs. Bribes are most commonly paid to the police and also when seeking health services: 19% of citizens report being asked for bribes and 15% report paying bribes. In general citizens pay a lot less bribes than they are asked for – they are most likely to pay when seeking critical services in education, health care, water, and from village / street (mtaa) governments.

Although citizens regularly encounter corruption in their daily lives, they are unfamiliar with what they are supposed to do when asked for bribes. Only one out of three (33%) know that they are supposed to report corrupt requests to the Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau (PCCB). Unsurprisingly more than nine out of ten citizens (93%) have not filed a corruption report in the past twelve months.

Overall 3 out of every 4 citizens (76%) think that everyday corruption has gotten worse over the past ten years.

When it comes to grand corruption on a large scale at national level, citizens are less well informed. Of a range of alleged corruption scandals over the last ten years, four out of ten Tanzanians (37%) had not heard of scandals associated with IPTL, Ministry of Energy PS (Jairo), BAE Radar, EPA or Richmond. The most well known scandal was Richmond; over half of the population (56%) had at least heard about the issue, but only 1 out of 7 (13%) could provide details about it.

Despite this lack of awareness, 8 out of 10 citizens (78%) believe that grand corruption has also gotten worse over the past ten years.

Aside from not being aware of major misappropriations of public money, citizens are also not informed about Government action to tackle corruption. Only 1 out of 4 citizens are aware of the existence of the National Audit Office of Tanzania and only 1 out of 5 know about the Controller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report. However, citizens do want Government to be more accountable. When informed about recent findings from the CAG report, three out of four citizens believe that individuals should be held responsible for the loss of public money.

Given the high levels of daily corruption in people’s lives and the lack of knowledge about opportunities for redress, it is noteworthy that half of Tanzanians (51%) think that corruption cannot be reduced at all.

Rakesh Rajani, Head of Twaweza, said “It is troubling that despite many efforts, citizens encounter such high levels of corruption in their daily lives and across so many different sectors, particularly Government services.”

“In terms of grand corruption,” he continued, “there seems to be a breakdown of the social and political compact between the Government and its people. At the moment, citizens seem unaware of or disinterested in grand corruption. Politicians, NGOs and the media make a big noise about it, but ordinary people do not seem to see the connection between grand corruption and their daily aspirations and struggles.”

Rajani emphasized that, “These survey findings show that despite efforts to improve governance and frequent commitments to open government, three things hold true: corruption pervades the everyday lives of ordinary people; the situation is likely getting worse; and citizens do not believe that the government or the opposition can or will reduce corruption. Pretending all is well or continuing with business as usual may be the worst folly, because when people lose trust and confidence in their institutions and their leaders, things can become truly nasty.”