Researching the politics of development



Social protection in an electorally competitive environment (1): The politics of Productive Social Safety Nets (PSSN) in Tanzania

Working paper 109

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Thabit Jacob and Rasmus Hundsbæk Pedersen
Social protection has become a more important part of social service delivery in Tanzania over the last couple of decades. This paper analyses the politics behind the making and implementation of the Productive Social Safety Nets (PSSN), a cash transfer scheme that became part of a broader, existing scheme aimed at poverty reduction and rural development, TASAF I-III. We trace the interrelationship between the domestic policy process and the shifting influence of transnational ideas. We argue that the introduction of TASAF and later PSSN was strongly influenced by international trends, driven by a policy coalition of bureaucrats and development partners, but that it was sanctioned by the country’s political elites, who at times used the programmes for electoral purposes. This happened for instance by influencing the scale and speed of PSSN’s implementation prior to the national elections in 2015, despite a tradition of scepticism towards cash transfers within the ruling CCM party. Recently, President John Magufuli’s more productivist ethos, emphasising the importance of work, poses a threat to the programmes’ continuation. This may also reduce the targeting of the poorest of the poor, which constitutes a major element of PSSN as we know it.