Salvation of Tanzania: The role of Faith-based Communities in Tackling Corruption

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Stakeholders have called upon the government to work more closely with faith based organizations to tackle corruption.

Speaking at the Policy Forum Breakfast Debate held on 30th September 2016 entitled “Salvation of Tanzania: The role of Faith-based Communities in Tackling Corruption,” Dr. Alfred Sebahene of the St. John's University of Tanzania, said it is high time that measures and actions to curb petty and grand corruption were strengthened  as a national agenda with clear monitoring and evaluation tools such as the five-year development plan which will incorporate collaboration with faith based communities as a strategy.

“Although religion remains a sensitive topic, one which has recently generated significant wariness in government circles, lessons from Botswana and Ghana inform that we need to have coherent policy choices that strategically involve faith leaders,” he said, claiming that faith organisations are the largest and best-organised civil institutions equipped to tackle contemporary social and moral challenges.

Sebahene’s view was backed by Dennis Allan from Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) who illustrated how faith based organisations in Tanzania have been involved in advocacy for transparency in the extractive industries, referring to an alliance of religious organisations known as the Interfaith Standing Committee on Economic Justice and the Integrity of Creation with the support of Christian Aid and the Norwegian Church Aid which carried out and produced a study – “the golden opportunity” - looking at the tax policy and practice in the Tanzanian mining sector.

In 2012, the same organisaion conducted an advocacy campaign around a report entitled: “The One Billion Dollar Question: How Tanzania can Stop Losing So Much Tax Revenue,” which analyses Tanzania's tax policies and how much revenue the country is losing from tax evasion, capital flight and tax incentives.

Moreover, Allan also shared his experience on a research which was conducted by the Interfaith Standing Committee on Economic Justice and the Integrity of Creation which revealed that small-scale miners were more willing to share their issues with faith-based leaders, this shows the relevance of faith-based organizations.

Grace Masalakulangwa from the Interfaith Standing Committee on Economic Justice and the Integrity of Creation said that corruption is an issue of moral failure, the remedy being moral transformation and the people to let faith based organisations continue to influence their moral standings.

Corruption is pervasive throughout Tanzanian society and is a serious problem across all sectors of the economy. Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Index revealed that Tanzania was ranked among the twenty countries in Africa with the worst corruption and also placed 117th out of 168 countries. In recent years, the Tegeta Escrow Account (TEA) scandal has come to epitomize corruption in Tanzania and was by far the most important public policy issue of 2014 that exposed weaknesses of the country's formal institutions.