Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli’s one year old government appears to be losing the traditional backing among rural dwellers, who according to a recent research, are more dissatisfied than their urban counterparts in the rating of the performance of the fifth phase administration.
Even though it is still very early into the five years’ mandate for the new government, a survey by Infotrack in October this year indicates that rural communities rated all the government and President Magufuli performance indicators below that of Tanzanians living in urban areas.
Several studies of a similar nature in the past have consistently shown rural dwellers as ranking highly government performance as well as that of its leaders under the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi(CCM). The highest dissatisfaction rates then were among urban residents, and which was often reflected in the huge support that opposition parties and their leaders commanded in these areas.
President Magufuli’s dramatic and event filled one year in office, according to the Infotrack findings, has excited and impressed city dwellers more than those in the rural villages where, as tradition show, CCM garnered more votes than the opposition in the 2015 General Election.
The research was commissioned by Mwananchi Communications Limited, publisher of The Citizen, Mwananchi and MwanaSpoti, to gauge performance of the fifth phase government after one year in office.
The survey, conducted by Infotrack Research & Consulting, involved a sample of 1,000 people, translating into a minimum margin of error of -/+ 3.1 at 95 percent degree of confidence. The survey was conducted across all the six zones and 15 regions where 113 wards were randomly and purposively sampled.
Political commentators and policy analysts say several factors could explain the changing phenomenon during the one year that the new government has been in office. They, however, admit that at this moment in time, expectations across the national political demographics would be very different as the campaign euphoria ends and harsh life realities set in.
According to the research findings, rural communities rated all the yardsticks provided below the rate of those in the urban areas. The areas put to question included overall status of the country, satisfaction with Dr Magufuli’s management of the country, the president’s speeches and policy pronouncements, curbing wasteful expenditure and inefficiency, Handling of Zanzibar crisis and fulfilment of campaign promises.
On the country’s current status, 43.4 per cent of the villagers said it was better compared to 51 per cent in town who said the country was better of. Some 40.9 per cent of rural residents said the country was worse of but 31.7 per cent of their urbanites felt the same.
On whether they were satisfied with JPM’s management, 77 per cent of urban residents were satisfied as opposed to 69.3 per cent of rural dwellers. Those who were dissatisfied with this score were 27.8 rural and 20.5 urban. On fulfilment of his campaign promises, 66 per cent urbanites were satisfied while 61 per cent were satisfied in the rural areas.
In another category, majority of urban dwellers (74 percent) said they were satisfied with Dr Magufuli’s speeches and policy pronouncements while only 69.8 percent of rural people supported the speeches. 42.8 per cent of rural people compared to 41.6 in urban areas felt the Zanzibar crisis was poorly handled.
The two groups almost tied in the leadership and integrity measure, with 81.2 percent saying they agree with Dr Magufuli’s decision to fire the former Home Affairs minister, for alleged misconduct compared to 79.9 percent of rural dwellers. On attempts to restore discipline, honesty and professionalism, some 86 percent of urban dwellers supported Dr Magufuli whereas only 84 per cent of rural dwellers supported him.
The only category which urban people were against the government was the ban of live coverage of Bunge proceedings. Some 63.9 percent of urban dwellers said they did not support the decision while only 55.3 percent of rural people said they were not satisfied with the decision.
Majority of urban people (47.9 percent) also supported the government decision to ban political activities compared with 46.9 percent of rural dwellers.
On cubing of wasteful expenditures, 89.3 percent of urban people showed their gratification against 84.9 percent of rural people while 85.2 percent of urban people also approved Dr Magufuli’s decision to revoke the appointment of former Shinyanga regional Commissioner, Ms Anne Kilango. Only 84.1 percent of rural dwellers were happy with the decision.
Assistant lecture at the St Augustine University of Tanzania Leopord Katubayem said people from rural areas have big expectations from Magufuli’s government, especially on the industrialisation pledge and on agricultural sector improvement. “It is still early as nothing yet has been delivered to create the expected impact and life is still tough....they may be feeling that they have been isolated from major social services hence low confidence.”
Mr Katubayemwo said for the case of urban areas, people have good access to media where they are so updated on everything taking place that it was easy for them to access most of the quick wins of the new government.
National Coordinator of the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC), Mr Onesmo ole Ngurumwa noted that the government hasn’t done better in rural areas because none of the biggest pledges have so far been implemented.
“Most of those in the villages have been waiting for the Sh50 million per ward subsidy, but none is aware of when the money will be dished out. Again, they don’t see the direct impact of the cost-cutting strategy in their daily lives...it has yet to give relief compared to their expectations,” said Mr Olengurumwa.
Prof Honest Ngowi of Mzumbe University said: “I am not sure that things are better than before. Yes we see some changes in the government institutions in term of accountability and service delivery, but within the society, we have been hearing complaints that life has is becoming tough,” he said.
Prof Mwesigwa Baregu, a senior political analysis, said the political situation has indeed changed in the country since the last General Election. But he noted that the situation has gotten worse for the opposition parties and that might explain why CCM Mapinduzi appeared to be busy in opposition strongholds where their meetings have been banned. He also said that Dr Magufuli’s leadership has created fear among common wananchi such that they might respond in that way during a research.
A lecturer from Ruaha Catholic University in Iringa, Prof Gaudence Mpangala, said there were two factors which could have helped boost popularity of CCM in urban areas and opposition strongholds.
He said it could be true that people are satisfied with the performance of the government under President Magufuli.
“But second factor, which I think is the big reason, is the way CCM has been given freedom to conduct political activities through political rallies and meeting,” he said.
He noted that ban of political activities might have made the public consider CCM as the only one party in the country. “In a democratic country like Tanzania that is wrong. All parties must have freedom to conduct their activities,” he said.
On reaction that things are better than before, Prof Mpangala said that might not be true as the general feeling in the society is that things are getting worse.