Members of parliaments and local government councillors across Africa, including Botswana, have earned little trust and largely negative performance ratings from their constituents, a new report from Afro Barometer shows.
Complaining of increasing official corruption and impunity, most Africans including Batswana say their political leaders are not interested in listening to their views and are more concerned with advancing their own ambitions than serving the people.
The critical assessment, based on almost 54 000 interviews in 36 African countries, is detailed in a report released on the International Day of Democracy on September 15, 2016.
Across 36 African countries, fewer than half of the respondents say they trust their MPs (48 percent) and local councillors (46 percent).
Among 12 public institutions and leaders, MPs and local councillors rank eighth and ninth in public trust.
Large majorities say at least “some” of their MPs and local government councillors are corrupt, including one third of local citizens who see “most” or “all” of these elected representatives as corrupt.
Across 18 countries tracked over the past decade, public perceptions of corruption have increased for both MPs by 8 percentage points and local government councillors by 6 percent.
A majority (59 percent) say that officials who commit crimes “often” or “always” go unpunished.
More than two thirds (69 percent) of Africans believe that political party leaders are more concerned with pursuing their own political ambitions than with representing the people’s interests.
Fewer than half of Africans interviewed approve of the job performance of their MPs (45 percent) and local government councillors (49 percent). Disapproval is especially high among citizens who see their leaders as driven by personal ambition rather than public service, as corrupt, or as uninterested in what their constituents have to say
The study reveals that in 36 countries, including Botswana, Africans tend to trust religious leaders more. Seventy-two percent of Africans say they trust religious leaders; 64 percent trust armies; 61 percent go for traditional leaders; African presidents are trusted by 57 percent; 53 percent trust courts of law; the police are trusted by 51 percent; 50 percent trust electoral commissions; parliaments are trusted by 48 percent; both local government councils and ruling parties by 46 percent; 44 percent trust tax departments while opposition parties come last with 36 percent.
Asked whether leaders of political parties in this country were more concerned with serving the interests of the people, or more with advancing their own political ambitions, 65 percent said leaders of political parties were more focussed on their own political ambitions.
Only 29 percent say local political leaders serve the people, while six percent did not know the answer to the question.
About 40 percent strongly disapprove of MPs’ performance while 43 percent strongly disapprove of councillors’ performance.