FOLLOWING President Magufuli’s speech in Zanzibar last week to commemorate the passing away of founder President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the speech was, by far, a landmark one and an indicator of his roadmap on the days ahead of his leadership.
Touching on all major factors of the political and economic landscape, including the mining sector, which he has made an unprecedented impact, cracking down on the siphoning off of the country’s mineral wealth, the President said his crackdown has already begun paying off in terms of increased government revenue.
On Nyerere’s legacy, President Magufuli said his government was determined to follow the footsteps of the Father of the Nation by shifting the capital to Dodoma, in the middle of the country and building the 2,100-megawatt Stigler’s Gorge power plant.
Dr Magufuli said, like Mwalimu Nyerere, he would continue to fight to ensure that Tanzania gets a fair share of revenues from its natural resources– citing mining, natural gas, forestry, tourism and fisheries.
Then the President came to the real point, which crowned his whole address in terms of the direction of the country. He said the Arusha Declaration of February 1967 that committed the country to ‘Ujamaa’ (Socialism with Tanzanian characteristics) and Self Reliance was still relevant today than never before.
“The Arusha Declaration was discarded a few years ago after Nyerere’s death. I ask myself: why did we abandon the Arusha Declaration?” the President asked.
“We started selling and privatizing our industries after the death of the Arusha Declaration. About 197 industries, which were privatized, have since shut down. The President also dismissed calls for the government to scrap the annual ‘Uhuru [freedom] Torch Race’ pointing out that the country cannot disband one of its national traditions; the symbol of the country’s independence.
For those who were around in the days of the proclamation of the Arusha Declaration which propelled the country towards the road of Socialism and Selfreliance, and are still around to this day must have given a sigh of relief that the best is bound to befall this country listening to President Magufuli last week.
For Tanzanians those days, socialism (Ujamaa) meant no more or no less than glorifying the traditional culture of Tanzanians to live together in fraternity (undugu). That simply meant “Socialism with Tanzanian characteristics” - as the Chinese people describe their brand of national ideology – “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”.
For those around, tuning to Tanzania’s national radio station– Radio Tanzania -then predominant, the slogans played from time to time went on like this: UJAMAA NI UTU! UBEPARI NI UNYAMA! (SOCIALISM IS HUMANITY! CAPITALISM IS BEASTLY!) Along with this ideology, Tanzanians then, via their state were in control of their commanding heights of the economy as the state, under founder President Mwalimu Nyerere had nationalized all national resources and created public firms to run them.
What ensued then is evident to those who were around those days: jobs were assured to all Tanzanian youth at the end of their schooling. Factories and industries blossomed –more spectacularly– the textile industries.
And these textiles blossomed even more since this country is basically agricultural –with cotton and sisal being predominant. Most importantly, the gap between the haves and have-nots in our society was being narrowed, with greater attention being focused to the have-nots, the peasants and workers of this country, which classes were then described as the chore of the Tanzanian society.
There was a real great reap forward during those early of the socialist agenda –but to the chagrin of global capitalism as spearheaded by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Suddenly this country faced an invasion and occupation by a neighboring military junta of dictator Iddi Amin of Uganda then. That was in the late seventies. To get rid of the invasion and occupation, this country had to go to war –utilizing its own national treasury– not external aid.
It was when our plight was noted then at the end of the war with Iddi Amin that international capital, via its institutions moved in with privatization as a quid pro quo for monetary support. But Mwalimu Nyerere had retired then; those succeeding seemed to lack courage to resist.
But even if there were, supposedly, no way out of the fix, to what extent did we need to privatize here? At the level privatizing everything save our wives? Hahahahahaha! This is where the point by President Magufuli the other day holds water.
We really needed not to discard the whole ideology of the Arusha Declaration of Socialism and Self-reliance! We seem to have achieved nothing - after massive privatization since as the President has revealed- the 197 industries, which were put into private hands, none has survived!
Now, where do we move from here now that we have a President in place with a good vision? I think ordinary citizens like me who have seen the past need to encourage the President to reinstate the Arusha Declaration with its ideology of Socialism and Self-reliance in its entirety.
With his correct and courageous move to stop the looting that was taking place of our mineral wealth, we need now to embark on a public agenda to nationalize our mineral wealth and create appropriate public companies that would run them.
We should forth demand equity shares with external companies, which wish to come over and exploit our mineral and natural resources and things like royalties should be relegated to laughable affairs of the past.