The Ups and Downs of Popular Demands for Accountability in Tanzania

Bernadeta Killian


This article sets out to examine the extent of popular demands for accountability (PDAs) in Tanzania. Given the limitations of elections and public watchdog institutions in holding public officials to account, the role played by citizens in directly demanding accountability is of paramount importance to the democratization process. This article focuses on identifying citizens’ direct action that calls public authorities to account in the multiparty political system in Tanzania. The analysis in the article is informed by the nature and form of societal accountability that places citizens at the centre of the accountability process. Societal accountability, which may also be called bottom-up accountability, involves explicit actions by citizens to demand accountability directly rather than using watchdog institutions as agents for holding leaders accountable on their behalf. Findings show that the extent of popular demands for accountability has varied over the years since 1992. During the last term of President Mwinyi’s administration (1992-1995), Tanzania witnessed a proliferation of PDAs expressed by workers, students and ordinary citizens. However, the number of incidents gradually declined from the mid-1990s up to 2005 during Mkapa’s administration. From 2006, PDAs were on the rise once again, up to 2007 during Kikwete’s administration. The data was collected through content analysis of newspaper reportage covering the period since the introduction of the multiparty system in Tanzania in 1992 to mid-2008.

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