Tanzania must ‘see’ beyond Twaweza research findings

Sunday November 16 2014

By Ally Saleh ,Straight Talk

This week the Tanzania scene was shaken by a survey conducted by Twaweza -- a research based civic organization -- following the release of findings on the forthcoming General Election. Almost everybody is angry with the findings. This was not the first time Twaweza issued its social, politico-economic findings about the country, and the release was wider than the political field which ignited big fire that indicates how big the political war will be, especially among the big parties and the big players already strategising and positioning themselves.

Most of the aspirants for the Union presidential post dismissed the findings out right saying they lack credibility. They have faulted the findings as being biased and even accusing the organisation of being used. The meaning of ‘being used’ here is multi-pronged.

Concerns were raised, to me not necessarily correct, that not all aspiring candidates were proposed to the interviewed people to gauge their reaction and hence some lamentations from one section asking what about them.

Such questioners forget that they might be in the race and their names might be in the papers and their actions might be too frantic to be noticed, but yet the interviewees might decide not at all to mention them because they do not matter – and this is very painful. They want the truth that is true to them and they do not cut good leaders. The opponents of the findings also poke holes in the methodology as well saying it was not scientific and questioned the sample size of the interviewees for the research saying it was too small and they do not speak with a strong voice and not at all speaking for the nation.

This actually reminded me about the statistical question when the Constitutional Review Commission report was issued. Huge outcry followed saying that the numbers do not tally at all and dismissed it entirely. And the numbers are still in doubt today.

Twaweza is said to have phone- interviewed about 1,200 people and the political giants whose colours did not shine in the finding are not happy. We are cultivating a repugnant culture which does not augur well for modernism and the world will laugh at us.

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That number of people is very good measure and standard for many major companies doing surveys in the world. And the latest big survey which reflected closely the result was that of the Scotland Referendum and the numbers used did not go beyond 1,200 people. I do not think Tanzania is so special that accepted number of respondents or interviewees must be in hundreds of thousands when the exercise is scientific.

Such kind of thinking is not progressive and it is counter-productive. Since the survey was made we even now have the possibility of strong contention if Ukawa would maintain their joint sponsorship of one candidate, and should Ukawa complain that this aspect was not considered? No, at all.

The survey is one of many to come. If I were to advise, the outcome should serve to remind the political parties and the front runners that the race is still wide and what they should do is to strengthen their approaches.

This is a fact we should learn. First, is to accept such truth; second, is to learn to positively react to such truth but more important is to learn to change gear from such truth to the desired dream and that can make a party or a candidate realise that the needs and aspirations of the people are not yet met.

Tanzania is no longer property of one party. There is a glaring possibility of a re-run in next elections, and it should run in our minds that there is the possibility that the president of this country could come from a political entity outside CCM.

Ally Saleh is a lawyer, journalist, author, political commentator, media consultant and poet based in Zanzibar