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Citizens making things happen: are citizens active and can they hold government to account?

Seven out of ten citizens (70%) report that they think that have no say in what Government does. At the same time seven out of ten citizens (71%) think voting is the only way they have influence over Government. At core these reflect the same sentiment – aside from the choices they make during elections - citizens do not feel that they influence government decision-making or activity. Citizens appear to place little trust in formal institutions or local government officials in addressing their issues: nine out of ten report that they have not interacted with their MP in the last year and half (47%) report not to have interacted with their street or village chairman to raise issues. In general formal political institutions seem to play minimal roles in people’s lives. Only one out of seven citizens (16%) are members of any political party.

These findings were released by Twaweza in a research brief titled Citizens making things happen: are citizens active and can they hold government to account? The brief is based on data from Twaweza’s Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative mobile phone survey that interviews households across Mainland Tanzania.

Despite the apparently low levels of interaction with formal channels, 6 out of 10 citizens (58%) report that they observed joint or collective complaints to officials in their community in the last 12 months (some of these may be reports of the same complaint). These complaints are normally organized to seek improvement in a public facility at the local level. The most common issues are teacher absenteeism and access to clean and safe water.

Read more: Citizen Agency government Sauti za Wananchi

Authors: Angela Ambroz Elvis Mushi Youdi Schipper

Editors: Rakesh Rajani Risha Chande

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Organizations: Twaweza

Pages: 11

Type: Policy brief

Year: 2014

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