Dstv Dailynews  Mobile

The first decade of my engagement in the Public Service (1960–1970)

I WAS appointed, on promotion from Clerk-Assistant, to Clerk of Clerk of the National Assembly, effective from 9th December, 1962.

This position also made me simultaneously the incumbent Director of Elections. It is this appointment which suddenly propelled me to the top echelons of the Administrative Civil Service pyramid, as a result of my performance in that other capacity as Director of Elections.

The first post-independence general elections were due to be held in 1965. And, in the meantime, major constitutional changes had been introduced, which made Tanzania a Constitutional ‘One-Party State’.

Thus, when the 1965 general elections were held, with me being in sole charge of that exercise as Director of elections; my performance was being keenly watched by everyone, including President Nyerere himself. Apparently, I did a splendid job, perhaps even beyond President Nyerere’s expectation.

Hence, as a special personal reward to me, he directed that my position of Clerk of the National Assembly, be upgraded and made equivalent, in salary, to that of Permanent Secretary in a Government Ministry.

That is how I was propelled to the top echelons of the Civil Service pyramid that much early, which was almost at the beginning of my career. We will discuss the 1965 elections later. Let us first examine President Nyerere’s stewardship.

The 9th day of December, 1962; was also the date on which Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was installed as President of the Republic of Tanganyika, and on the next day, 10th December, 1962, he came to Karimjee Hall, to address the Tanganyika Parliament; Wherein he outlined his governance aims and objectives, plus his priorities in implementing those objectives.

President Nyerere’s metaphoric expression of “we must run while others walk” is what accurately describes his initial leadership strategies; Which were designed to create a new nation of Tanganyika citizens after the achievement of UHURU.

The initial tasks facing him were monumental and daunting, both in their scope, and in their extensive nature. Basically, they included the following:

(i) To complete the process of decolonization, by quickly dismantling all the colonial structures, and the legal regime, which the colonial Administration had left behind; specifically those which were obstructive to the achievement of national unity.

(ii) To set up new appropriate replacement structures.

(iii) To undertake the task of developing, and putting in place, new policies and strategies designed to achieve rapid social and economic development for the people of this new nation; strategies which he metaphorically described as “the fight against the three peoples’ enemies of poverty, ignorance, and disease”.

(iv) To introduce a totally new governance system; namely, the democratic ‘OneParty system’ Constitution. The implementation of all of these tasks had to be carried out in the National Assembly; because they involved either the enactment of new laws; or giving approval to any such policies that required Legislative approval.

Thus, having just been appointed Clerk of the National Assembly myself, I became closely involved (through this Legislative process) in “the making of a new nation”.

One outstanding feature of these legislative activities, was the necessity to resort to the frequent application of the rule which permits the introduction Government Bills “under “Certificate of Urgency”; Simply because the colonial legal regime had to be dismantled in the shortest time possible.

The following four major pieces of legislation were among those which were speedily dealt with:-

(i) The Chiefs’ Ordinance;

(ii) the Land Tenure Ordinance;

(iii) the Magistrates Courts Ordinance; and

(iv) The Education Ordinance.

The Chiefs’ Ordinance was a big hindrance to national unity, because it created multiple loyalties among the people of one nation, with each tribe owing loyalty to its own Chief, instead of loyalty to the nation. It was swiftly abolished without replacement.

The land Tenure Ordinance, which made provision for the granting of “freehold” land titles to individual persons, was a recipe for future land troubles between the few land owners, and the vast landless masses. This was abolished and replaced by a new law, which made provision only for the granting of “leasehold” titles to individual applicants.

Leasehold titles were subjected to specified development conditions. Failure to meet these conditions would lead to the loss of title to that land, which would then be acquired by the Government, and re-granted to another applicant.

The Magistrates’ Courts Ordinance was also abolished, and replaced by a new Magistrates Courts Act, which removed the racial discriminatory nature of the previous Ordinance.

Racial discrimination was not only inappropriate in a new Tanganyika, whose guiding philosophy wa the ‘equality of all human beings’ (Binadamu wote ni sawa); but was also detrimental to the forging of national unity, and to peace and tranquility among the people.

Similarly, the Education Ordinance, which had exactly the same racial discriminatory features; and thus was equally repugnant to the philosophy of human equality, was also abolished and replaced by a new Education Act, which was more appropriate for the new nation.

All these legislative measures were accomplished during 1963, the first year of President Nyerere’s rule, thus justifying his expression “we must run while others walk”.. The new policies and strategies that were put in place by President Nyerere, included the policy of “Ujamaa na Kujitegemea”; which was promulgated in 1967, by way of a historic policy document titled the “Arusha Declaration”.

But before that, he issued his directive on the use of Kiswahili in all Government operations (where possible). This was issued at the beginning of 1963; and, (with a tinge of pride as the first Tanzanian Clerk of the National Assembly), I undertook the responsibility for implementing this directive immediately, in respect of the National Assembly proceedings. But this task was quite taxing.

For, at that material time, there were only two senior staff members in the Speaker’s Office: myself, the Clerk of the National Assembly; and the Clerk-Assistant, Mr Yasin Osman; who had to manage all the administrative business of the Speaker’s Office.

Thus, I assigned the task of preparing the normal National Assembly business to the Clerk-Assistant, while I concentrated on the more sensitive political tasks, of implementing the President’s directive on the use of Kiswahili; and later (when the time came), of organising the 1965 general elections.

The process of converting to Kiswahili involved the setting up of an entirely new system for the preparation of the official records of the Parliamentary proceedings, (the Hansard reports).

Implementing President Nyerere’s Kiswahili directive

Up to that time, the proceedings of the National Assembly were being conducted only in the English language. For that reason, we had a team of competent stenographers, who took shorthand notes of everything that was said in the House, and later went out to transcribe their notes into typewritten scripts.

The immediate challenge, was that no shorthand characters had been developed for the Kiswahili language at that time; thus, there were no trained Kiswahili shorthand stenographers available anywhere in the job market.

In those difficult circumstances, we had to embark on a completely new system of using ‘audio-typists’, who would take audio recordings of all that was said inside the National Assembly, and later have their recordings transcribed into typewritten scripts.

It took some time, and money, to establish this new system, but all was done in a relatively short period of time, which enabled us to avoid postponing any of the scheduled sessions of the National Assembly, even for that first year when we started implementation of President Nyerere’s directive on the use of Kiswahili; thus adding a few precious marks to my performance credibility.

The momentous events of the year 1964

Outside the National Assembly, there were two momentous events that occurred in pretty quick succession, in the first four months of 1964. The first was the sad, shameful event of the army mutiny by the Tanganyika Rifles in January.

The other was the joyful, historic event, of the establishment of the political Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which occurred in April, 1964.

The army mutiny

This happened in the early morning hours of January 20th, 1964; when a contingent of soldiers from the ‘Colito Barracks’ in Dar es Salaam went on the rampage and captured important Government Installations and facilities, including the State House (Ikulu), the International Airport, and the Government Radio Broadcasting station.

They also arrested their British Commanding Officers. Their announced intention was not to take over the Government. All they wanted was the immediate removal of their British Commanders, and their replacement by Tanganyika Officers.; They also demanded an increase in their salaries, and other emoluments.

But by the time the mutinous soldiers arrived at the gates of Ikulu, President Nyerere, together with Vice-President Rashidi Kawawa, had already been evacuated by the Intelligence Service Director to a safer place, the home of a trusted TANU leader, one Mzee Sultan Kizwezwe, who was residing in Kigamboni area.

However, as the mutiny progressed through its second day, other, non-military vagabonds, took advantage of the generally confused situation, and started committing acts of lawlessness and criminality, such as shop breaking and stealing; in several areas of Dar es Salaam.

And by then, the situation had reached the stage at which the mutineers had to be subdued; because the Tanganyika Rifles soldiers stationed at Tabora and Nachingwea, had also joined their Colito Barracks colleagues in the unlawful act of mutiny.

President Nyerere had also returned to State House, and from there, he sent for the British High Commissioner, and asked him to submit his request to the British Government, asking to be given urgent support in disarming the mutinous soldiers. The British Government was quick in its positive response.

Thus, in the early morning hours of 25th January, 1964; A British warship arrived in Dar es Salaam harbour, carrying British soldiers and their equipment, fully ready for the relevant task, which they carried out efficiently and professionally.

For Just as the powerful warning bombs were being fired into selected areas of colito barracks from the warship; the British soldiers landed, and immediately descended on the mutineers. It took hardly an hour to subdue them all.

And in the afternoon of the same day, the British forces flew to Tabora and Nachingwea, to subdue the soldiers who had joined their Dar es Salaam colleagues in that illegal act of mutiny. And that was actually also the end of the “Tanganyika Rifles” army, which had been inherited from the previous colonial Administration.

President Nyerere took immediate steps to prepare for the establishment of a completely new army of loyal recruits from among the TANU Youth league members.

While in the meantime, he requested his fellow President of newly independent Nigeria, to provide, as a temporary measure, a contingent of Nigerian soldiers to take care of the military needs of Tanganyika, during the transitional period pending the establishment of its own Army.

To be continued next week. piomsekwa@gmail.com / 0754767576

Author: Pius Msekwa

Post your comments

Recent Posts


more headlines in our related posts

latest # news