Magufuli’s approval rating drops by 25pc - Twaweza poll

Thursday June 15 2017

CCM supporters cheer the party’s presidential
CCM supporters cheer the party’s presidential candidate, Dr John Magufuli, at a campaign rally. PHOTO | FILE
Dubbed the bulldozer, a majority of Tanzanians
Dubbed the bulldozer, a majority of Tanzanians have endorsed President John Magufuli’s leadership style. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGAH |
By HELLEN GITHAIGA

Tanzanian President John Magufuli's wild popularity is waning with his approval rating, according to an opinion poll, down 25 per cent in the last one year.

According to the pollster, Twaweza, seven of ten Tanzanians endorse the president's performance, representing 71 per cent, compared to 96 per cent of those polled in 2016.

The Twaweza report shows Mr Magufuli remains popular among older citizens, aged 50 and above, (82 per cent), the less educated (75 per cent), and the poor (75 per cent).

Of youthful Tanzanians (aged 30 and below) only 68 per cent of those polled endorsed the president, 63 per cent among the more educated, and 66 per cent among the rich.

According to Twaweza's Executive Director Aidan Eyakuze, the drop in ratings indicates a loss of trust by the electorate of their politicians.

“The sharp drop in ratings, combined with the drop in approval ratings for all politicians, sends a sobering message. Citizens are fast losing trust in their political leaders.”

CCM dominance

The Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which has ruled since Independence in 1962, remains popular with support still steady in the last five years.

"After a slump in 2013 and 2014 during which the party’s approval rating fell to 54 per cent from 65 per cent in 2012, support has remained consistent since the election at 62 per cent in 2015 and 63 per cent in 2017," Twaweza said in its report released Thursday.

The opposition, however, is not enjoying similar approval. The main opposition party Chadema has seen its influence decline during the same period to 17 per cent in 2017 from a peak of 32 per cent in 2013.

CCM is largely popular among women, rural folks, older citizens and the poor; while Chadema enjoys support from the men, youth, more educated and relatively wealthy citizens.

Citizens' concerns

“But beyond the headline approval ratings, a more interesting trend is visible. First, the sharp drop in people mentioning public services as priority areas is noteworthy. These sectors have consistently topped the ranks for citizens’ main challenges over the past three years,” Mr Eyakuze said.

“This poll suggests that citizens are signalling improvements in terms of public service delivery. But, the steep rise in the number of those expressing concerns about poverty and about food shortages should not be ignored."

The Twaweza findings show that Tanzanians see corruption as a much less serious problem, thanks to President Magufuli's relentless fight against graft and complacency that has seen many senior government officials lose jobs.

However, 60 per cent of those polled said they were concerned about poverty, food shortage (57 per cent) and health (40 per cent).

“Citizens are deeply worried about the most basic of issues - food - and they are sending a strong message to their leaders. Who is listening?” Mr Eyakuze asked.

"The 25 percentage point decline in citizens' approval of the president's own performance may well in part reflect the public's assessment - fair or otherwise - that he has not dealt effectively with the food security situation.

"It may in part also reflect criticisms made by opposition parties and others that the president does not give appropriate weight to democracy and human rights," the report said.

The survey results were released by Twaweza in a research brief titled ‘The End of the Beginning? Priorities, Performance and Politics in Tanzania’. The findings are based on data collected from 1,805 respondents across mainland Tanzania (Zanzibar is not covered) in April 2017.

-Additional reporting by The Citizen