Twaweza in trouble over controversial research

12Jul 2018
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Twaweza in trouble over controversial research
  • findings indicating presidential popularity drop

THE government has dismissed last week’s Twaweza public survey findings showing that President John Magufuli’s popularity has declined, giving the research organisation seven days to explain itself or face legal action.

According to the letter from the state-run Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and addressed to Twaweza, the Sauti za Wananchi (Citizens Voices) survey had not been registered or cleared by authority, and therefore are not certified.

The Twaweza survey findings, published last week under the titled ‘Speaking Truth to Power? Citizens’ Views on Politics in Tanzania’, showed that President Magufuli’s popularity had dropped from 71 percent last year to 55 percent this year.

In its letter signed by acting director general Amos Nungu, COSTECH said its database showed that Twaweza had applied for research clearance for three projects, one of which has been completed and two are still ongoing.

“However, over this past weekend there was information regarding Twaweza’s new research project known as Sauti za Wananchi. Since the commission doesn’t have any record of having granted to Twaweza a permit or any pending application on the same, the publication is a violation of section 11 of the national research registration and clearance guidelines by failure to register a research project with COSTECH,” the letter reads in part.

The letter signed required Twaweza to show cause within seven days why legal action should not be taken against it.
According to the Twaweza study report, the findings were arrived at after analysing opinions collected via mobile phone from 1,241 respondents across Mainland Tanzania.

They indicated that Magufuli's approval ratings decline represented a fall of 41 percentage points, from the 96 per cent recorded in his first year in office (2016).

But despite the significant drop, the findings also indicated that the president “would be re-elected if elections were held today.”

Meanwhile, the opposition ACT Wazalendo party was yesterday quick to criticise COSTECH over its warning letter to Twaweza, saying the move is aimed at silencing Twaweza from conducting further critical research on social matters.

Addressing a press conference in Kijitonyama, Dar es Salaam, the party's ideology, publicity and public communication secretary, Ado Shaibu, said the government needs to create a favourable environment for research institutions to operate freely and efficiently in addressing socioeconomic challenges.

"Both CCM and opposition parties have always been involved in Twaweza research reporting activities, but the opposition doesn't complain about the research results. I wonder why this time COSTECH decided to issue this letter to Twaweza,” Shaibu said, adding:

“I think COSTECH wrote this letter because a section of the cited recent research report isn’t favourable to the government."

The senior ACT Wazalendo party official asserted that since research institutions are “required by law” to consult the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for statistical back-ups of their researches, “I wonder why this time COSTECH wanted to be consulted before the launch of this report."

A similar Twaweza survey in the same period last year also showed that President Magufuli’s approval rating had dropped from 96 per cent in June 2016 to 71 per cent.

According to last year’s report, the presidential approval ratings varied between age groups; 68 per cent among respondents aged under 30, compared to 82 per cent for those aged over 50.

Furthermore, 75 per cent of respondents with little or no primary school education approved of the president, as against 63 per cent of those with secondary education or higher.

The approval rating was also slightly higher among poorer citizens (75 per cent) than the richer (66 per cent).

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