IN the preceding month, February 5th – this country marked the 50th anniversary of the Arusha Declaration of Socialism and Selfreliance. It was not marked here as a national event as such, but it was an event that had made quite a difference for this country’s destiny just around seven years after its independence from Britain.
That blueprint, Socialism and Self-reliance (Ujamaa na Kujitegemea) had put the people of this country via their state; in charge of the commanding heights of the economy.
Not only that, the blueprint had clarified the actual owners of this country – specifically naming peasants and workers. For those who were around in this country 50 years ago had observed the level of support the Declaration had. It was massive.
The leader of the ruling party then, which continues to this day, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which translates in English as ‘Party of the Revolution’, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, had received massive demonstrations in support of the Declaration across the country.
Memories abound those days of continuous slogans over the national radio station, which blared slogans such as: “Ubepari ni Unyama, Ujamaa ni Utu” (Capitalism is Beastly; Socialism is Humane). In the heels of this Declaration, the state effectively created both industries and firms, which were state owned or better known then as parastatals.
Those who were around then – from 1967 up to mid-eighties, this country had taken off industrially. An essentially agriculturally country, factories were built to make clothes out of cash crops such as cotton, grown abundantly here to this day.
We were not a mineral-rich country then as today, but the rewards of the then socialist economy were obvious. Jobs were abundant then unlike today when the only source of livelihood for young people seems to be running a motorcycle that serves as transport for the majority poor.
Young people graduating from schools and colleges then were sure of getting jobs and some were actually recruited at the end of their schooling to train in this and that or get direct employment in abundant industries and factories then found in Dar es Salaam and some upcountry towns such as Mwanza and Tanga.
For those who have been around since the days of the Arusha Declaration may agree with me that the country had taken off both economically and politically.
They knew that their leader then, Mwalimu Nyerere was not a marionette of any foreign power, he was his own man with home grown roots and vision. He was not the kind of leader who would be summoned to Washington and forget his shoes in his haste to reach there! But this stance by the founder President of this country was intrinsically unacceptable to multipolar powers of those days.
That Tanzania then had a neighbouring leader who took power via a coup that overthrew a democratically elected president could have been a good excuse to create trouble for this country. In retrospect today, I would be ready to believe that some of those multi-polar powers of the old days may have been behind former Uganda’s dictator Iddi Amin to invade part of our country as one way of weakening our country economically.
It was the consequence of that battle to fight off an invasion of our country by dictator Iddi Amin that slowed down our economic growth industrially because since we had a national philosophy of self-reliance, it was inconceivable for our founding leader to beg any power for economic support.
And the multi-polar powers, more specifically western powers took advantage of our economic situation after the war and came up, using one of their global institutions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to impose conditions in favour of capitalist economic modus operandi away from the socialist thrust which the country had earlier embarked.
So dawned the era of privatisation of what was once a socialist economy that had taken us to industrialisation, the fruits of which those who were around those old good days had seen.
So where are we today compared to the old good days of the Arusha Declaration? Where have we landed with the motto of the fourth third post-Nyerere Administration that “privatisation is the engine of economic growth” ?
Unlike before during the days of the Arusha Declaration when the gap between the haves and have-nots was not remarkable, how is this gap today? Is the widening gap between the haves and have-nots in our society today helpful in the long run?
As Mwalimu Nyerere had warned when the gaps between the haves and have-nots in a given country is left to widen by the day, it is like one leaving the leakage of petrol in one’s household. An explosion is unavoidable! In the intervening period after the Arusha Declaration, lots of water has passed under the bridge. It is now high time to take a hard look at the concrete situation on the ground in the country. To my mind, this is the challenge of the ruling party, CCM.
It is time for it to take a hard look at itself. The first question to address is: What is its ideology? Is its Arusha Declaration still alive? If not, what is the problem of reviving it? Of course, in the intervening period, there had been some ‘editing’ of the Declaration, one of which is the emergence of the ‘Zanzibar Declaration’ during the lifetime of Mwalimu Nyerere who immediately remarked when he heard of this ‘editing’: “Some of us have got the message.
The editing is aimed at killing the original declaration, with its leadership code forbidding leaders to wear two faces; a public and private one.” But CCM can still bring to life this Declaration especially when it has in place a robust new Chairman whose slogan is: ‘Hapa Kazi Tu…’ (Time for hard work).
But since this party is definitively a party of ‘Peasants and Workers’ – this new clarion call by its new Chairman, President Magufuli seems to be a clarion call for the renewal of the principles of the Arusha Declaration especially taking into consideration the new Chairman’s thrust to get rid of looters in the administrative machinery of the country.