In its report for 2009, Transparency International (TI) showed a survey where more
than a quarter (26%) of people in sub-Saharan Africa said they had personally paid
a bribe in the preceding 12 months. The figure for North Africa and the Middle East
was far worse at 40%. Compare this to 5% in the European Union and 2% in North America
to just get the idea of how gargantuan the task of tackling corruption is in these
The Tanzanian chapter of Transparency International (TI) was formed in May 2009.
It will go by the name Tanzania Transparency Forum (TRAFO) and renown Tanzanian academic
Professor Mwesiga Baregu is to be its first chair.
The founding President of Tanzania, Mwalimu Nyerere, stated even before independence
in May 1960 during a budget session of the Legislative Council (as it was then) that
even though the three stated enemies of the people were Poverty, Ignorance and Disease,
he regarded corruption to be a bigger danger than all of these in peacetime. He recognised
corruption to be the single greatest obstacle to sustained peace as well as economic
and social emancipation. He went on to state that “I believe corruption should be
treated in almost the same way as you treat treason. If people cannot have confidence
in their own government, if people can feel that justice can be bought, then what
hope are you leaving them? The only thing they can do is to take up arms and remove
that silly government. They have no other hope.”
According to the Transparency International survey report of 2009, 55% of people
in Tanzania reported to have been asked for bribes while seeking services they are
entitled to. What is worse is the figures showing that only 8% or 1 in 12 of these
bribery demands were reported. This indicates extremely poor confidence in law enforcement
institutions which, apart from appalling redtape; are themselves mired in corruption.
In the last couple of years tanzania has been rocked by high profile cases of corruption
on a grand scale involving important national institutions such as the Central Bank
and the energy utility company Tanesco, which is a monopoly. Dubious deals have led
to a loss of billions and allegations touch high profile figures in the government
(including cabinet ministers) and leading figures in the ruling party CCM.
Some serious allegations continue to hound the former President Benjamin Mkapa himself
involving the conducting of business deals while still in office. These include selling
himself and his relatives some national assets at knock-down prices. The general
perception in the country now is that his reluctance to address these allegations
head on mean he is quite possibly guilty.
This whole saga means the country is creating an impression of a place where it is
expensive to do business and consequently discouraging a significant number of serious
investors. The one bright ray in the TI report is that the survey showed Tanzania
to be the least corrupt in East Africa, with corruption perception well below neighbouring
Kenya and Uganda.