Accepted paper:

Petty corruption and situations of legal pluralism at the local level in Burundi

Authors:

Guillaume Nicaise

Paper short abstract:

The analysis of civil servants’ practices and speeches as well as the balance of power within local government show how petty corruption is accomplished and maintained, to finally becoming a practical norm within the management of communal resources.

Paper long abstract:

This case study explores the fiscal management of the local governance in Burundi, following a methodological interactionism perspective. Based on a 3 months' field research in the commune of Bukeye, this case study firstly analyzed practices and speeches used by tax collectors during their interactions with citizens. The analysis emphasizes the patrimonial conception of the state, in its everyday "bargain" between local agents and populations. The analysis then goes to the heart of local governance, to better understand how those practices are accepted, legitimized and even supported by local authorities. Field observations pinpoint balance of powers, constrains and margins of maneuver used by local agents. The variety of action's frameworks, pervasiveness of the ruling party, and the lack of control are likely to favor impunity for local petty corruption. Finally, a parallel with the anti-corruption programme provides a basis to measure the discrepancy between formal good governance norms and standards for behavior as well as strategic orientations followed by local civil servants and elected officials. Moreover, this parallel enables reflections on the role of these forms of "solidarity" and clientelism, within a perspective of public service delivery.

panel P202
Taking rules seriously: Between formality and informality in African bureaucracies