Post election political advertising - April 2011
Tanzania held a general election on the 31st of October 2010 that saw the citizens voting in the president, parliamentarians and civic leaders. This is a report of research done by Sikika to gather information about amount of public money spent on congratulatory adverts.
After the results were published, various private and public organizations and institutions began to publish congratulatory messages through the media. Most media organizations, both print and broadcasting smiled their way to the bank as they were competing for the adverts.
Government departments, ministries, parastatals and various governmental boards were not left out as the heads of these organizations and their workers published adverts congratulating the winners who in most cases were to become their bosses.
Though this is a widespread practice, it does not come cheaply as these adverts cost a fortune. The fact that some of the advertisements were big and in full color while others were broadcast on television and radio, and that most of these departments are funded by the government and use the taxpayer’s money, means that a lot of money was gobbled.
Most prominent media organizations ran promotions where they had discounts ranging from 20 percent to 25 percent for those who paid upfront for the congratulatory adverts. Newspapers such as The Guardian and The Daily News, just to mention two, ran adverts on the promotion throughout the period of the study, highlighting the percentage discounts given for upfront payments.
The research revealed that from 8th November to 8th December1, Tsh 175, 639,750 was spent on 217 adverts. The analysis shows that, National Development Corporation (NDC), President’s office (Programme to Formalize the Property and Business of the Poor in Tanzania) (MKURATIBA), and the Parastatal Pension Fund(PPF) were found to be the highest advertisers spending Ths 10,185,900, Tsh 9,574,300 and Tsh 8,356,700 respectively.
The Presidential candidates in both Zanzibar and the mainland got the highest number of adverts while Tanzania Standards Newspapers Ltd received not only the highest number of adverts, but also pocketed the bulk of the money spent on the adverts (Tsh 88, 430,900).
Considering that we have several problems affecting the health sector which include maternal mortality, shortage of health staff and inadequate medicines and medical supplies, the Tsh 175,639,750 that was spent on adverts could buy 828 delivery beds or 1254 delivery kits since one delivery bed costs Tsh 200, 000 and one delivery kit costs Tsh 140, 000 according to Medical Store Department product catalogue (2010/11).
The research concludes by describing roles and responsibilities CSOs, Media, MPs and Citizens should play in making sure that public funds are spent properly for the citizens’ wellbeing.