The Year Ahead in Tanzanian Politics

Commentary in the East African suggests that former prime minister Edward Lowassa is the man to beat in the race to succeed Jakaya Kikwete as president next year.  Lowassa resigned in 2007 over a scandal involving a power generation contract.  (The energy sector has continued to suffer from corruption scandals.)

Mr Lowassa seems to have gathered many supporters who have stuck with him through his troubled career. In 1995, he was among the more than 15 CCM aspirants for the presidency but he was stopped in his tracks by then retired president Julius Nyerere, who found him to have enriched himself rather too fast.

Mr Lowassa was eliminated by Nyerere’s fiat and that contest within the party was eventually won by Benjamin Mkapa (over Kikwete), who also won the election.

It remains to be seen whether the power-plant scandal will be resuscitated to haunt Mr Lowassa’s campaign or whether he will use this campaign to reiterate what he has said in party caucuses — that whatever he had done he had done with the full knowledge of Kikwete and with his approval and/or instructions.

For a deeper look at the state of Tanzania’s ruling party and the potential restructuring of government under a new constitution, see Hanno Bankamp’s piece in Think Africa Press, “CCM’s Identity Crisis: Comebacks, Constitution and Corruption in Tanzania”.

In late news, Tanzania’s Attorney General appealed to members of the Constituent Assembly–assigned to review and revise the latest daft constitution for a referendum in advance of the 2015 election–not to use bribery in the election of their Chairman and Vice Chairman.

 

Is Uhuru on his way to being the next East African authoritarian American darling?

Uhuru Kenya presidential campaign rally trash

Before noting the choice of speakers for the Uhuruto inauguration, the idea that governance in Kenya might be in the process of falling in line with its East African neighbors has been much on my mind since the IEBC’s decision on the election on March 9.

Museveni as the featured speaker–and what he had to say–certainly fits this theme.  Museveni can readily castigate the ICC and “the West” for meddlesome advocacy of international standards, knowing that he has a mutual “security” relationship at a deeper level with the United States.  He gets criticized by the U.S. for changing the constitution to stay in power, and for taking and keeping control of the Ugandan electoral commission–but without discernible “consequences”.

Uhuru himself in his speech said nothing about corruption–a major theme in the KANU to NARC transition and the original Kibaki inauguration, and well understood to be the Achilles Heel for Kenya’s economy.  And as I have noted before, the Jubilee platform’s only “plank” relating to governance is a proposal for active state intervention in the civil society arena.

Museveni and his NRM have been associated with the KANU of Moi and of Uhuru and Ruto over the years and at some level Kenya post-Moi has been an outlier in the East African Community of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.  As well as Museveni, one naturally thinks of Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and the recently departed Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia as authoritarian heads of state who could count on strong support in Washington at a variety of levels–both in terms of underlying security relationships and friendships with American politicians who could be counted on for advocacy in the face of international controversy.

Uhuru himself, quite the contrary to his short-lived campaign rhetoric this year as an ICC indictee, has been a favorite Kenyan politician of many in the American establishment.  He talks the talk well.  He was educated in the U.S. and has been a frequent visitor.  A “family friend” of former Assistant Secretary of State Frazer by reputation.  Rich even by American standards, and a business owner whose inherited fortune was generationally cleansed from openly kleptocratic political origins.  Before the confirmation of the ICC charges but after the 2008 post-election violence when the issues with the alleged funding of the Mungiki attacks in Naivasha and Nakuru were well known, he was a primary lobbyist for the Kenyan government in the U.S. seeking things like a Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact.  Before the 2007 election, he entertained official American visitors including Senator Obama as the “Official Leader of the Opposition”.  He was singled out for positive recognition in a report by CIPE, the Center for International Private Enterprise (the National Endowment for Democracy’s core institute under the United States Chamber of Commerce) and was spoken of in government as a Kenyan who “says the right things”.

A U.S. foreign policy establishment view on how the United States should deal with a Kenyatta administration was offered in a Foreign Affairs piece by Bronwyn Bruton of the Atlantic Council just before the election:

. . . In all likelihood, the first round of voting will lead to a runoff election on April 10 between Raila Odinga, the current prime minister of Kenya’s hastily-constructed unity government, and Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s deputy Prime Minster and the son of Kenya’s first president. The tightness of the race bodes ill; it is unlikely that either side will be able to score a quick victory, and it will not take much vote rigging to influence the election’s outcome. The losing party is virtually certain, therefore, to contest the results. Some violence, in other words, seems all but assured. The question is how long it will last, whether it will spread nationwide, and how many people will be displaced, injured, or killed

Most of the piece is behind the firewall so I won’t copy it here, but she goes on to argue that U.S. interests counsel what I would characterize as essentially a business as usual approach to Uhuru (and by implication of course Ruto) unless and until they end up eventually convicted by the ICC.  I shared this with a friend in Washington with the comment that this could be read as a Washington argument not to get too exercised if Uhuru helped himself to some extra votes to win–the risk of instability was very high and the downside to having Uhuru in office wasn’t that great.

The Carter Center has released another round of reporting on the election, “slamming” the IEBC, but concluding with a factually unsupported pronouncement that in spite of the electoral commission’s many failures their announced result happened to “reflect the will of the Kenyan people”.  This was language being tossed around in certain circles before the election with reference to Moi’s races back in the ’90s.  How to say an election is bad but the incumbent or other beneficiary of the state misconduct would have won anyway? The big difference in 2013, of course, should have been that the Kenyan voters had approved–with much U.S. support–a new constitution that was supposed to end the “first past the post” system that so benefited Moi and require a “runoff to majority”.  When you read the Carter Center report it is clear that there is no way they can offer any substantive assurance at all for the IEBC’s award of just enough to Uhuru to avoid that runoff.

But, there are interests at stake besides justice–there is also “stability”, and “peacekeeping” troops in Somalia, etc., etc.

So we shall see.  I hope for the best for Kenya, but the Uhuruto ascendancy looks to me like a big win for tribal chauvinism and a real step back in terms of democratic ideals.  Kenya is very different from either Rwanda or Ethiopia, and from Uganda, too.  Whatever excuses one makes for Kagame and Museveni in their own postwar environments, to me, ought not to apply to Kenyatta or Uhuru in Kenya.

Good reads

“Kenya’s once safest town, now famous for the wrong reasons” Xinhua,

Kenya’s northern town of Garissa that was once voted as the safest town in East and Central Africa by Interpol has all of a sudden lost its glory as it continues experiencing a spate of grenade and gun attacks allegedly being executed by Al-Shabaab militants. . . .

“Somaliland Elections: Everything’s fine, except when it isn’t” Progressio Blog.

“Why fighting corruption in Africa fails” by William Gumede in Pambazuka News.

The Citizen reports on the release of the 2012 Afrobarometer “Round 5” poll for Tanzania, highlighting growing public perception of corruption by the CCM government.

Concerns on effectiveness of education aid in East Africa

The Guardian‘s Claire Provost reports on a new
Independent Commission on Aid Impact evaluation of UK education aid
for Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia, which finds too much attention paid to increased enrollments and not enough to actual educational performance:

“The quality of education being provided to most children in these countries is so low that it seriously detracts from the development impact of DfiD’s educational assistance,” said the report, which failed to find evidence that DfiD was considering “basic preconditions for learning” such as whether students and teachers actually attend class after the first day.

“To achieve near-universal primary enrolment but with a large majority of pupils failing to attain basic levels of literacy or numeracy is not, in our view, a successful development result. It represents poor value for money both for the UK’s assistance and for national budgets,” said the report giving the programmes an “amber-red” rating signifying that they need significant improvements.

DfiD funding for education in the three countries is expected to top £1bn over the 2005-2015 period. The majority of this has been delivered through “budget support” – money given directly to recipient country governments. While this has helped DfiD to concentrate on promoting policy reforms, said ICAI, the department should now consider a more “hands-on approach”.

 

This seems to be consistent with what both the UK and the US have seen in Kenya, with the “education scandal” over a course of years under the “free primary education” initiative following the 2002 elections and on into the current Government of National Unity.  Direct budget support has serious risks and limitations.  For one thing, foreign funding does not necessarily change the priorities that may be reflected in the lack of local funding in the first place.  A separate ICAI report found that budget support can be effective in the right conditions, but in practice varied widely by country–India, for instance, showed better results.

Encouragingly, the current UK international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell, expressed willingness to apply the learning from the independent evaluation, and acknowledged a previous over-emphasis on increased enrollment in and of itself.

Here is the link to the ICAI reports.

 

East Africa Event Thursday: President Kikwete discussing “A Country Transformed; A New Agenda for Tanzania” with MCC CEO Daniel Yahannes at CSIS

Update:  Here is the link to the audio from the event at CSIS and a handout.

[Also–for a very different view of Kikwete, see “Tanzania:  The Flip Side”  by Nkwazi Mhango in the current African Executive.]

Tanzania represents a success story for developing and emerging-market countries in a time of changing donor-recipient relations. Through a series of reforms to increase transparency, good governance, and country-led development, President Kikwete has helped Tanzania become a strong partner with the United States and the business community. Tanzania is the recipient of a $698 million Millennium Challenge Corporation compact, hosts a robust PEPFAR program, launched the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor (SAGCOT) initiative, and was among the first countries selected for the Partnership for Growth—all of which have helped Tanzania make gains in enhancing food security, reducing poverty, and creating economic opportunities.


Tabasco in Zanzibar, Tanzania

“Competition for Military Superiority” between Uganda and Kenya not a sign of political maturity

British Helicopter

British Helicopter at base near Nanyuki

 

The Daily Nation reports on new data on Ugandan and Kenyan defense spending from SIPRI, “Arms race hots up in East Africa”:

Competition for military superiority in the East African Community has seen Uganda’s arms expenditure surpass Kenya’s for the first time this year, a new global arms report shows.

Kampala spent US$1.02 billion (Sh83 billion) — much more than Kenya’s US$735 million (Sh61 billion), the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) says. The institute does research into conflict and arms control.

The most advanced

In particular, Uganda’s acquisition of six SU-30MK Russian jets is said to have elevated its air force to one of the most advanced in East and Central Africa.

The reasons for the increased budget, according to the report, include competition for regional military superiority, especially with Kenya, and the threat of a spillover from potential conflict between Sudan and South Sudan.

Others included the operation in Somalia against Al-Shabaab where the region’s armies, including Kenya’s, are fighting under the African Mission in Somalia (Amisom), and against Joseph Kony’s rebels in the DR Congo are quoted as reasons for Uganda’s ballooning military expenditure.

The friction with Kenya over Migingo Island almost sparked a confrontation and this is also cited as justification for more military spending by Kampala.

Kenya’s military expenditure has also been going up in the last decade. The country spent only Sh14 billion on the military in 2000 compared to more than Sh60 billion today.  .  .  .

There are plenty of positive opportunities for competition and national pride within the East African Community, but acquisition of military hardware in support of governing egos is not something that is affordable for either country in the context of need, and supports the temptations of saber rattling for political gamesmanship.  Any type of military confrontation within the EAC would be an absurd tragedy.  Since the U.S. and our European allies are heavily engaged in interacting with the Ugandan and Kenyan militaries, perhaps we can be positively influential in dissuading this type of behavior in conjunction with our support for less tangible types of political reform.

A little Kenyan-American history: Kissinger, Waiyaki, Kibaki; getting the F-5s, safaris and slums

History–Kenyatta, the Kenyan military and GSU; origins of U.S. military assistance

More Kenyan-American diplomatic history: Kenyatta’s health and succession; status of whites; military assistance

East Africa ranks fourth of five regions in 2011 Mo Ibrahim Foundation Governance Rankings–Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya each move up from 2010

2011 Governance Rankings for East Africa
Rank (of 53-followed by raw score)

4th Seychelles 73
13th Tanzania 58
20th Uganda 55
23rd Kenya 53
25th Rwanda 52
29th Djibouti 49
31st Comoros 47
34th Ethiopia 46
37th Burundi 45
47th Eritrea 35
48th Sudan 33
53rd Somalia 8

Here is a link to a summary brochure of the East Africa findings.

Here is my post from last year’s release.  Tanzania has moved up from 15 to 13, Uganda from 24 to 20 and Kenya from 27 to 23.

[Expanded] Piracy Update: attacks spread south as South Africa signs pacts with Kenya, Tanzania and increase in West Africa, too–but what is the real impact on shipping?

“SADC should act strongly against pirates” from the Institute for Security Studies:

The lack of prey and the constant attention of the international fleet participating in Operation Atlanta​ are forcing pirates to move their operations south, towards areas outside the operational arena of the international fleet. Acts of piracy are also increasingly occurring further away from the mainland in international waters. This migration of pirate activity from Somalia is exerting pressure on coastal countries such as Tanzania to step up their efforts to protect vessels traversing their territorial waters.

 Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete commented during his recent visit to South Africa that Tanzania has experienced almost 30 pirate attacks and that the increasing number of incidents are starting to affect the economy of Tanzania and by extension the whole of Eastern Africa. The impact is the result of ships preferring not to visit the ports in Tanzania due to the risk of becoming the victims of pirate attacks.

South Africa, in an effort to curb piracy before it reaches its doorstep, has committed its maritime resources to the fight against pirates. The main motivation for this approach seems to be to fight pirates in the waters of its neighbours whilst ensuring that the South African shipping lanes remain safe and open for business.  Although the South African National Defence Force remains stoically silent about their strategic plan to get involved in the fight against piracy, the actions of the Government support the conceptual properties of a plan of this nature.

The agreements signed between South Africa and other Eastern African countries concerned about the impact of piracy on their economies contributes to this understanding. These countries are Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, the Seychelles, the Comoros, Madagascar and Reunion. . . .

In the meantime, “Piracy Rises Off of West Africa”  notes an AP item in the NY Times.  “‘Piracy soars’ off coast of Benin” reports the BBC.

Here is the link to the website of the “Save Our Seafarers” campaign,  “one of the biggest ever maritime industry groupings, comprising twenty five of the world’s biggest maritime organizations”:

Over 400 seafarers are being held hostage by armed gangs of Somali pirates, in appalling conditions, subject to physical and psychological abuse.

Their ships have been hijacked at sea and they are being held for ransoms of millions of dollars. The human cost to seafarers and their families is enormous.

This affects YOU. Piracy is beginning to strangle key supply routes. 90% of the world’s food, fuel, raw materials and manufactured goods is delivered by sea. Nearly half of the world’s seaborne oil supply passes through the pirate-infested parts of the western and northern Indian Ocean.

But the world’s politicians don’t seem to realise the severity of the crisis. World trade is under threat. Piracy costs the global economy $7-12bn a year. Yet even when caught red handed by naval forces, 80% of pirates are released to attack again.

You can help stop this hostage-taking and help restore the freedom of the seas. Please add your voice to our worldwide call for government action. More robust laws, stronger enforcement and firmer political resolve are needed to stop these pirates.

.  .  .  .

We understand the problems Somalia faces (the most prolific area for attacks) after 20 years of vicious civil war but we believe our innocent seafarers and the global economy have the right to protection.

All we ask is for Governments to take a firmer stance to help eradicate piracy.

We need committed action now and want governments around the globe to prioritise six key actions:

  • Reducing the effectiveness of the easily identifiable motherships
  • Authorising naval forces to hold pirates and deliver them for prosecution and punishment
  • Fully criminalising all acts of piracy and intent to commit piracy under national laws, in accordance with their mandatory duty to co-operate to suppress piracy under international conventions
  • Increasing naval assets available in the affected areas
  • Providing greater protection and support for seafarers
  • Tracing and criminalising the organisers and financiers behind the criminal networks

And, in case you missed it, here is an article from several weeks ago in Bloomberg/Business Week on the “arms race” against piracy.

UPDATE:  The Guardian today has a David Smith story “Piracy off west Africa increases sharply”:

Pirate attacks off the coast of west Africa have increased sharply, figures show, raising fears that the region could emulate Somalia as a menace to shipping.

Nigeria and Benin have reported 22 piracy incidents so far this year, including two in recent days, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said. Benin did not suffer any such attacks last year.

“I believe we are nearly at a crisis here, and if it’s a crisis there has to be action,” Rear Admiral Kenneth Norton, of the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, told the Associated Press.

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which stretches along the coasts of a dozen countries from Guinea to Angola, has escalated from low-level armed robberies to hijackings, cargo thefts and large-scale robberies over the past eight months, according to the Denmark-based security firm Risk Intelligence.

Nigeria, Benin and nearby waters were this month listed in the same risk category as Somalia by the London-based insurers Lloyd’s Market Association. Neil Smith, its head of underwriting, said: “It’s always been a concern for the shipping industry. The model that’s taken root in Somalia might spread to other areas.”

But how much economic impact are Somali pirates actually having?  Well here, from the “Information Dissemination” blog are excepts from a speech by someone in the shipping business who obviously knows a lot about such things:

[I was sent a copy of remarks made by Stephen M. Carmel, Senior Vice President of Maersk Line, Limited given August 3rd, 2011 at the Commander Second Fleet Intelligence Symposium. After reading these remarks, I emailed Steve and publish them here with his permission.   These are his personal views and not those of Maersk Line Limited, nor those of the very diverse shipping industry.]

So, there are lots of things I worry about and lots of things that impose costs on our business that I’d rather not have to deal with; piracy is one, but not the only one and certainly not the worst. On any one of them if we can get someone to provide some relief, that’s great, including piracy. But piracy is not some existential threat to this country, or the maritime industry. That has, and is, my central massage when thinking about piracy. We must keep it in perspective. Piracy today is not remotely as bad as it was during the days of the Barbary Pirates to which it is usually and foolishly compared. Piracy then represented a true threat to the security of a young US. Today piracy has zero direct effect on our economy and I have yet to hear anyone articulate anything approaching a valid national interest that justifies the costs, and risks to US lives, of that mission beyond that it is the traditional role of the US to ensure stability in the global regime from which the US benefits in an overall way. In fact piracy has had no real impact on international trade.

Traffic through the Suez Canal is near record levels according to data from the Suez Canal Authority, global supply chains through that region remain intact and we are not diverting around Africa to avoid pirates, although when bunkers are cheap enough we’ll do it to avoid Suez Canal Tolls, since below about $300/Ton going around Africa is actually cheaper and now that we’re all slow steaming time is less of an issue. Charging around at 24 knots on our big containerships is largely a thing of the past, and sadly so are $300/ton bunkers.

It is interesting to note that the US government, in the form of the Maritime Administration is itself a source of incorrect information regarding the diversion bit, which is important as virtually every “cost of piracy” calculation relies heavily on some assumed diversion inefficiency to have any level of a “wow factor” attached to it. I can tell you that Maersk, the largest container company in the world, does not divert around Africa and I don’t know of any major carrier that does. Anyway – the Maritime Administration has on their web site a cost of piracy point paper which is again reliant on diversion for its major impact. They reference the cost of diverting a 300k ton tanker as one example, but the only problem there is of course a 300k ton tanker can’t get thru the Suez so would always go around the cape anyway so the real cost of diversion is zero, and we’ll come back to tankers in a minute. They also talk about the cost of diverting containerships. When pressed for data on how many containerships are actually making such a diversion they are silent – don’t even answer me. So, take that sort or argument with a bulker load of salt and even the US government itself contributes to the voluminous amount of misleading to patently false information floating around about that.

Unfortunately for us freight rates on the Asia / Europe trade route – the only international route directly impacted by piracy, are not where we’d like them to be due to over capacity and weakening demand, so it is nonsense so say consumers are paying increased costs due to piracy. Shipping companies, in the face of weak fundamentals search for any mechanism to extract an extra nickel out of customers, including things like bunker adjustment factors and now piracy surcharges – which thanks to frothy news headlines shippers “understand”, but in the end it is the total cost of shipping a box that counts and that is not going up.

And in fact is down considerably from the peak in 2006 just before the financial collapse. More to the point, the routine peak-season surcharge that would normally be applied to that route this time of year has been delayed several times because peak season volumes are not materializing – an indicator of a bad Christmas retail season in the US and consequently very bad news for the US economy. So, from a system perspective, piracy is not an issue. That is an important point – we need to view the effects of piracy from a system level, but the highly emotional nature, the human drama associated with a specific piracy incident leads the general public to view it from a specific individual occurrence perspective and generalize that, rather than from a true system level perspective, a giant mismatch in perspective and effect. Piracy is a cost of business just like many other costs of business and business can manage it, just as they do the others. Piracy is a little different though because unlike emissions targets or bunker prices, piracy gets the general public excited, provides politicians a risk free platform for pontificating, all of which provides some of our industry an opportunity to burden shift rather than take responsible measures to protect their ships.

Four out of the Five Members of the East African Community are among the 20 USAID “‘Feed the Future’ Focus Countries

From a USAID press release, “USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah Announces 20 Feed the Future Initiative Focus Countries“:

In 2008, the Lancet identified just 36 countries that are home to 90 percent of all children whose growth was stunted for lack of adequate food. Based on this global burden of undernutrition and other criteria that examined the prevalence and dynamics of poverty, country commitment, and opportunities for agriculture-led growth, the 20 Feed the Future focus countries are: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia in Africa; Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Tajikistan in Asia; and Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, and, Nicaragua in Latin America.

These countries experience chronic hunger and poverty in rural areas and are particularly vulnerable to food price shocks. At the same time, they demonstrate potential for rapid and sustainable agriculture-led growth, good governance, and opportunities for regional coordination through trade and other mechanisms. USAID will work with strategic partners Brazil, India, Nigeria, and South Africa to harness the power of regional coordination and influence in these focus countries.

Certainly it is encouraging that USAID finds Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda to present potential for rapid improvement–and perhaps the potential of the EAC itself is significant to this.   The listing is also a good reminder for Kenya that in spite of its significantly higher level of aggregate and per capita GDP, and overall growth, rural hunger remains all too common.  While this seems a constructive approach for USAID, I am skeptical that donors will  change the situation dramatically in Kenya until Kenya’s leaders share the priority to a greater extent than they have seemed to in recent years.

Constitutional Debate on Constituency Development Funds in Tanzania

Bora Kujenga Daraja (better to build a bridge) discusses the filing by a group of civil society organizations of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of new legislation in Tanzania creating Constituency Development Catalyst Funds, or Mfuka wa Majimbo. [h/t to Global Integrity  on Twitter]

Here is an introduction to the Daraja organization that sponsors this blog from their website:

Daraja is a new organisation that aims to make positive changes to life in rural Tanzania by bringing people and government closer together. Our name reflects our approach – Daraja comes from the Swahili word for bridge.

In rural Tanzania, local government has a responsibility to listen to the community and to deliver public services that meet local needs. We want to make sure local government fills that role. We want to make the system work.

The argument in the lawsuit is that the legislation violates the Tanzanian constitution by inappropriately crossing the separation of powers by giving legislators executive authority, rather than legislative oversight, over these funds:

A few days ago, a group of seven civil society organisations, including Policy Forum and the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) filed a case with the High Court of Tanzania, arguing that the act establishing the Constituency Development Catalyst Fund, or Mfuka wa Majimbo, is unconstitutional. In doing so, they are following the lead of other organisations raising challenges to similar constituency-based development funds in other countries.

But this move is far from being universally popular. MPs from all major parties supported the CDCF bill. One MP – Dr Faustine from Kinondoni – used his personal blog to criticise the CSOs’ case, arguing that the CDCF has been a very effective way of quickly solving problems in his constituency. . . .

And this view can perhaps claim some academic support from a surprising source: the DFID-funded African Power and Politics Programme (APPP), who have been looking into the idea that governance reforms should build on what exists and should be rooted in their socio-cultural context. Perhaps it’s better to give MPs a means of fulfilling constituents’ expectations and to find ways of ensuring it’s well managed, accountable and more than just a slush fund, rather than to insist on western governance niceties in a very different context. “Going with the grain” is the slogan of this approach.

I have a lot of sympathy for going with the grain. But surely it applies more to governance reforms at the administrative level – focussing on things like budgeting and financial management systems – than to such a fundamental distinction as that between the executive and the legislature. After all, the constitution is supposed to prevent misuse of power by the government and MPs, which is exactly what these CSOs are trying to use it for.

And let’s not forget, MPs are hardly powerless to “bring development” to their constituencies. They have the most influential seat on the council, which sets the budget for local development projects. And if that system is too slow and bureaucratic for them to use in response to local demands, MPs are better placed than almost anyone else to make the system work better, since they also have a roll in setting the national budget and national laws and policies.

For civil society there’s also a rigourous debate about tactics going on here – also a question of following formal processes or going with the grain. Launch a legal challenge to bring the law down, or focus on monitoring how the CDCF works in practice. In Kenya, for example, such monitoring has uncovered widespread abuses and I hear this has led to some MPs concluding that this type of fund is more trouble than it’s worth. It doesn’t have to either/or, of course; it could be both legal challenge and monitoring, but that takes twice as much effort.