Performing accountability in petroleum resource governance in a shrinking democratic space: The case of Tanzania
In this article Hege Bakke Sørreime and Kjetil Tronvoll explore how accountability in extractive resource governance is conceived and re-shaped as a consequence of the changing political context in Tanzania, made possible by the inherent ambiguity in the concept of accountability.
Accountability is a multifaceted concept fraught with ambiguity. In contributing to the critical literature on transparency and accountability, this paper explores how accountability in extractive resource governance is conceived and re-shaped as a consequence of the changing political context in the host country, using recent experiences in the emerging petroleum industry in Tanzania as the case. Based on a qualitative research design, the paper argues that the presentation of “accountability” is contextual, malleable, and ambiguous because it must satisfy both international standards and local political requirements. In the shrinking democratic space in Tanzania, accountability is defined and anchored in the context of a particularistic and historicised ideology in contrast to the universal principles upon which the international accountability regime is based. Interestingly, the two divergent principles of accountability co-exist and are accommodated in the same discourse on accountability mechanisms in the nascent petroleum industry in Tanzania, which is possible because ambiguity is inherent in the concept of accountability. Thus, resource governance accountability in Tanzania should be viewed and analysed as a dual process and not as mutually understood and accepted institutions and practices.