27 January 2014, Cape Town — A major new survey of African countries which depend on mining or oil revenues shows that six in 10 people have difficulty in finding out how their governments spend the proceeds of the resources.
This is among the findings of a report published by Afrobarometer, the survey network based in academic institutions around the continent which measures African public opinion. The report was written by senior Afrobarometer staff in the Centre for Democratic Development in Ghana.
The survey – of 22 countries – shows that 62 percent of their citizens say it is “very difficult” or “difficult” to establish how governments use revenues from taxes and fees.
Bottom of the list is Guinea, where 77 percent of survey respondents report difficulty, followed by Uganda (73 percent), Tanzania (72 percent), Sierra Leone (71 percent) and Nigeria (69 percent).
In only two countries do a majority of citizens say it is “very easy” or “easy” to determine where tax revenue is spent: Botswana, where the lowest number (43 percent) reports difficulties, and South Africa (47 percent).
Also, most citizens believe that government officials in countries with oil and mineral resources go unpunished for improper behaviour. On average, 54 percent of people in the 22 countries say officials who commit crimes often or always go unpunished.
Morocco falls at the bottom of this list, where 79 percent of respondents do not believe officials will be held accountable, followed by Egypt (69 percent), Zimbabwe (68 percent), Sudan (67 percent) and Nigeria (67 percent).
At the other end of the scale, Botswana performs well in this area too: only 28 percent of its people believe officials go unpunished. Following up behind Botswana are Namibia, where 33 percent feel the same, then Mozambique (34 percent), Ghana (44 percent) and Niger (44 percent).
In 14 countries which Afrobarometer has surveyed since 2005, the perception of crimes going unpunished has risen.
The biggest deterioration in public confidence has occurred in South Africa, where the perception that officials will not be punished has increased by 23 percentage points. In Ghana, it has gone up by 20 points, in Tanzania by 19 points and Nigeria by 17 points.