Tanzania Leader's Popularity Drops Sharply Since 2016, Poll Says

(Bloomberg) -- Tanzanian President John Magufuli’s popularity has plummeted by 41 percentage points in just two years, according to a poll by civil-society group Twaweza.

Ratings for the 58-year-old leader who came to power in 2015 have declined to 55 percent in April 2018 from 96 percent in 2016, the highest recorded for a head of state in the East African country, Twaweza said. His most recent standing is also the lowest for any Tanzanian president, it said.

Magufuli was widely celebrated for embarking on an anti-corruption drive and cutting wasteful government expenditure shortly after he was inaugurated in November 2015. Critics, however, say his administration is curtailing political freedoms for opposition parties, the media, civil society and even citizens.

“These include bans on political rallies and meetings, the arrest of several opposition politicians for sedition and other offenses, bans and suspensions of several independent newspapers, and perceived heavy-handed policing of political matters including freedom of expression,” Twaweza said in its report.

Despite this drop, Tanzanians will still largely continue to support candidates of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party. Only a quarter of the population have faith in the opposition, according to the report.

Magufuli’s communications director, Gerson Msigwa, declined to comment.

The findings are based on data collected from 1,241 respondents across mainland Tanzania in April 2018, according to Twaweza, which also has offices in Kenya and Uganda.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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