Who is making sure that the paper Tanzania’s Mission Opposition gets continued play in the Tanzanian media? Most recently it made the front page of Mwanahalisi just last month. Last year it got play for nearly a week in much of Tanzania’s print media. As we have noted before, the authors (Barak Hoffman and Lindsay Robinson of Georgetown University) gave an excellent overview of the structures underpinning CCM’s incumbency. We also pointed out that they were maybe remiss in making detailed allegations of corruption against a leading opposition presidential candidate in 2005. Turns out the only source for this was a piece in the ruling party’s newspaper in the run up to the election. I’d say some triangulation would have been in order.
The Mwanahalisi piece goes with another allegation from the same authors and the same paper. This time, we are told that $20 million of the funds embezzled from the Bank of Tanzania’s External Payments Account was used in just two constituencies in the 2005 elections. The source given is “a Ugandan newspaper”. Which one? The Monitor? Or maybe Red Pepper?
Now look at the figures. About $111 million was embezzled from EPA. This mysterious newspaper is suggesting that 18 percent of that was spent on just two constituencies. Now one would be naive to think that all the EPA money was used for political purposes. So we need a rough and ready split. The split used by John Githongo, as reported by Michela Wrong, is 70:30. Thirty percent of proceeds from grand political corruption tend to be used for political purposes. The rest is for property, hummers and girls (in, I would guess, roughly that order).
Now let’s be hard on ourselves and turn it around and assume that 70 percent – $77 million – was used for political purposes. With this assumption, 25 percent of campaign funds would have been used to contest just two constituencies out of 232 electoral constituencies and a campaign for the presidency and the far greater number of council contests.
Is this likely?
As researchers, we come across outrageous allegations all the time. Very few of those make the final cut because that would be irresponsible. Maybe it is easier to do so if you are far away in Washington? But it should be remembered that these are real allegations against real people in a real country as a real election approaches.
Journalists too need to be a little more rigorous. Just because something is published in the Journal of Democracy doesn’t make it gospel.