By Peter Bofin (independent researcher).
In 2008 the Tanzanian Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda, ordered government ministries to reduce unnecessary expenditure on workshops, allowances, seminars, and luxury vehicles. While populist commitments by leaders are not unusual in Tanzania, this particular one seemed to be a direct response to Sikika’s media and advocacy campaign. This case study shows that a focus on media outreach and raising public awareness may not be enough to bring about changes in contexts where budget allocation processes are closed and there are strong internal pressures to maintain the widespread patronage and rents that can be drawn from recurrent expenditures in the budget. While Sikika has played a important role in ensuring that the Prime Minister’s commitments and the issue of unnecessary expenditure remains in the public eye, this case study also suggests that more persistent issues may require an approach that integrates analysis with targeted advocacy of key decision-makers and public mobilization.