MUCH OF THIS WORK is derived from my life and experience in Tanganyika, later Tanzania. But a significant
portion of it can be attributed to the secondary sources I have cited to complement my analysis.
The people of Tanganyika, and Tanzania after Tanganyika united with Zanzibar, deserve special thanks
for inspiring and sustaining this work. It is because of them that I wrote the book. Without them, there would have been no
Nyerere as a leader. He led them, but they made his leadership possible.
I must also express my deep gratitude to three individuals who knew and worked with President Nyerere
when they were professors at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
They are Cranford Pratt, who was the first principal of the University College, Dar es Salaam, from 1961
to 1965. He assumed the post the same year Tanganyika won independence from Britain on 9 December 1961.
He wrote extensively about Tanzania. He also wrote a moving tribute to Mwalimu Nyerere, but
one not entirely sentimental. It is an objective appraisal, by a scholar, of Mwalimu's policies and leadership. And I am grateful to him for citing
portions of his work to support my arguments.
I am equally grateful to Professor John Saul who, in spite of his ideological affinity with Nyerere as
a socialist, assessed Nyerere's work objectively enough without compromising scholarship.
He argued that Tanzania did not achieve economic development because it was not socialist enough. I have
benefited from his insights although I don't share his position on that, forcefully articulated in his paper, “Julius
Nyerere: The Theory and Practice of (Un)democratic Socialism in Africa.”
I am also grateful to Professor Gerry Helleiner whose analysis is reproduced in this work.
All three scholars, who are Canadian, wrote their essays on Nyerere's legacy after Nyerere died. And
they continued to be some of the leading authorities on Tanzania in the West where they continued to teach in their home country,
The rest of the sources I have cited to document my work have been extremely useful and must be equally
acknowledged for their contribution to the successful completion of this study whose merits are beyond the scope of my assessment.
MANY PEOPLE have written about former President Julius Nyerere since
his death. He has been universally acclaimed by his admirers and critics for his personal integrity and selfless devotion,
and has been equally condemned for his "disastrous" economic policies.
I hope to strike a medium between the two. As a Tanzanian myself, it may be difficult to make an objective
appraisal of his successes and failures. But that is what I have attempted to do in this book. Whether I have succeeded or
not, is not for me to say. It is for the readers to decide.
Mwalimu, as he was and still is affectionately called, died when I was out of the country. His death
was a shock to me and I am sure to many others in and outside Tanzania because of the type of leader he was. I saw him for
the first time in the late 1950s when he was campaigning for independence and he left an indelible mark on me. I was under
ten years old then, but I never forgot the day I first saw him, as I explain in the book.
As a mere mortal among mortals, he made mistakes like the rest of us. And he admitted his mistakes unlike
most leaders. I discuss this in my book.
He was also unique among leaders in many fundamental respects, a subject I also address in this work.
But my focus is not just on what type of leader he was, but on what kind of policies he pursued especially
in the domestic arena which was also his main theatre of operation; although none of this diminished his stature as one of
the giants among leaders in history.
In spite of his lofty status, he remained what he was: of humble origin and a peasant at heart, at home
with the masses in the villages in the rural areas unlike most leaders. His formidable intellect was equally acknowledged
by friends and foes alike.
Why a leader of such high moral integrity and extraordinary intelligence could pursue "wrong"
economic policies has baffled his critics, although the answer is very simple. They have never asked why he did what he did and under what circumstances. Professor Ali
Mazrui described Nyerere as the most intellectual of the East African presidents, and one of the two most intellectual presidents
Africa has ever produced; the other one being Leopold Sedar Senghor.
An admirer of Nyerere as an intellectual, and also his critic, Mazrui has attempted to explain why Nyerere
pursued some of the policies he did; so have others.
It is a subject I also address in this work, complemented by appraisals from some of the people who understood
his policies more than most of his critics did, in order to put everything in its proper perspective for a full understanding
Those amongst us who admired him, or disagreed with him, would be better advised to look at what he did
without preconceived notions, remembering that Mwalimu was a mere mortal with frailties like the rest of us who admitted his
mistakes but who also did his best.
I have also done my best to show how life was in Tanganyika, later Tanzania, under Mwalimu in a country
where I was born and brought up.
I am also fully aware that I may not have done justice to a leader who was not only one of the giants
in the history of Africa but in the history of mankind.
Tanzania in the Seventies and Eighties
TANZANIA SUFFERED severe economic problems in the seventies and eighties caused by several factors.
By the late sixties, which was not long after independence, it was still one of the world's poorest countries.
And like many other developing countries, it suffered from a heavy burden of foreign debt, a decrease in foreign aid, and
a decline in the price of its export commodities; problems which continued in the seventies and eighties.
Nyerere tried to tackle these problems by implementing a series of measures which included
large-scale nationalization and establishment of ujamaa villages to boost agricultural production, although his policy of ujamaa, what has been called African socialism, was influenced
by his strong belief in the merits of the traditional African communal way of life from which he drew inspiration when he
enunciated his socialist ideology, and would have introduced the policy even if the country did not have serious economic
The focus was on rural development where the vast majority of the people lived and whom he
believed, because of their strong traditional way of life, would be able to extend their communal way of living and kinship
responsibilities to the large communities of ujamaa villages and eventually embrace the entire nation. He described ujamaa villages in the Arusha Declaration as socialist organizations.
But the policy was not successful in economic terms for a number of reasons.
The majority of the people did not want to work on communal farms because they had traditionally
worked on their own farms owned by themselves or by individual families. The people did not work hard in ujamaa villages as much as they did
on their own farms because they did not feel that the farms belonged to them but to the community. There were no incentives
to production in ujamaa villages one would expect to have when working on one's private farm.
People expect to get profit from their investment in terms of labour and capital. They could
not get that by working on communal farms. Everything belonged to the community. That was one of the biggest dis-incentives
to production, and there was no way ujamaa villages were going to be successful with that kind of attitude among the people.
As long as they did not get profit for themselves from their labour investment, they were not
going to work hard. In fact, millions resented being resettled in ujamaa villages and there were violent confrontations with the authorities in many cases when people
refused to be moved into those settlements.
The government finally realized that the policy was not working. But it was too late by then.
Agriculture had virtually come to a standstill. As Nyerere said, in retrospect: "You can socialize what is not traditional.
The shamba (farm)
can't be socialized."1
But there were a number of other factors which also had a profound impact on Tanzania's economy in the
seventies and eighties which had nothing to do with the country's economic policies besides the unwillingness and refusal
by Western countries to provide substantial aid to Tanzania because the country was pursuing policies they did not like. As
capitalist nations, they did not want to finance socialist projects to help Tanzania achieve its goal of building a socialist
society. Therefore curtailment of foreign aid did have an adverse impact on Tanzania' economy, but it was by no means the
only factor, among external factors.
But even the others factors, except drought, were inextricably linked with the West. Prices for export
commodities from Tanzania and other Third World countries dropped precipitously in the seventies and eighties. It is Western
countries which control the world market; therefore it is Western countries which set the prices for commodities from developing
countries. The producers have virtually no say in setting prices for their commodities under an international system they
don't control. And that was one of the tragedies for Tanzania and other African countries and the rest of the Third World
in the seventies and eighties as much as it is today.
And it has been that way all the time because of their weakness. They are at the mercy of the powerful
industrialized nations of the West who dominate the world economy. Some of the Western powers are the very same ones which
colonized Africa. And they continue to exploit Africa today.
The sharp increase in the price of oil beginning with the Arab oil embargo since the Arab-Israel war
in October 1973 also had a big impact on Tanzania's economy. It was not an exclusively Western factor but the increase in
oil by OPEC members including African ones such as Nigeria who formed the oil cartel was in response to external pressure
mainly by the West exerted on their economies.
In the case of the Arab oil-producing countries, it was also in response to negligence by the West, especially
American bias towards Israel, of the plight of the Palestinians who were being oppressed by the Israel, the strongest ally
of the West in the Middle East.
But whatever the reasons were for sharply increasing the price of oil, the decision severely affected
the economies of non-oil-producing countries such as Tanzania, draining much-needed foreign exchange which went towards purchasing
oil at an exorbitant price.
There was also the war with Idi Amin which affected the economy of Tanzania, a country already in a precarious
position as one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. The six-month war, which started at the end of
October 1978 and ended in April 1979, cost Tanzania more than $500 million, draining national coffers.
The large-scale nationalization programme in pursuit of Tanzania's policy of socialism and self-reliance
in order to break away from the economic stranglehold exerted by the West and other external forces was another major factor
in the decline of the country's economy.
Nationalization was carried out in a hurried manner and without the expert management and technical expertise
needed to make it successful; a problem that was compounded by corruption by the very same people who were supposed to implement
the country's economic policies of socialism and self-reliance. That was an additional problem.
Besides corruption, it also meant that Tanzania was trying to build socialism and achieve self-reliance
by using people who were not committed to socialism and to the policy of self-reliance, except to one thing: enriching themselves
at the expense of the nation.
Therefore, while there may have been valid criticism of Tanzania's economic policies and the manner in
which they were being implemented, thus compounding the problem, external factors also played a critical role in pushing Tanzania
to the brink of economic collapse and to the point where the country not only abandoned its policy of socialism and self-reliance
but became heavily indebted and even more dependent on the very same powers, Western countries and financial interests, it
was trying to break away from in order to be free to pursue its national interests and promote the well-being of its people,
especially the poor masses, without being dictated to by the West.
One of the people who have provided a balanced picture of Tanzania under Nyerere is Professor Cranford
Pratt, at this writing an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Toronto. He was the first principal
of the University College, Dar es Salaam, from 1961 to 1965. After returning to Canada, he continued to visit Tanzania until
1982, about three years before Nyerere stepped down from the presidency, and wrote extensively about Tanzanian politics and
economic issues and personally knew Nyerere with whom he also worked.
One of Professor Pratt's most well-known and influential works about Tanzania is his book,
The Critical Phase in Tanzania, 1945 to 1968: Nyerere and the Emergence
of a Socialist Strategy published in 1976.2
He further discussed Tanzania's socialist policies and development strategy in another book,
Towards Socialism in Tanzania, co-edited by Professor Bismarck Mwansasu of the University of Dar es Salaam and published in 1979, twelve years
after the Arusha Declaration. As he stated in his assessment of Nyerere and his policies after Nyerere died in "Julius Nyerere: The Ethical
Foundation of His Legacy":
While many of Nyerere's policy initiatives failed,
they rested on an ethical foundation and on an understanding of the challenges which Tanzania faced, which were vastly more
insightful than anything offered by his critics. Perhaps, ordinary Tanzanians have always recognized this truth....
The critical view of Nyerere's socialist policies taken by the international financial institutions,
by western governments and by most North American development economists goes beyond criticisms of specific initiatives, to
an impatient rejection of the very idea that Third World governments should seek actively to intervene in their economies
either to advance social justice or to control the direction of their economic development.
Others today will, I am sure, address the intellectual crudity and ideological nature of this neo-liberal
view of the international economic policies that would best serve Tanzania's interests.
What I want to underline is this parallel argument - western judgments of Nyerere's domestic legacy have
reflected political values that in contrast to his, attach little importance to communities, are largely un-concerned with
equality and are overwhelmingly preoccupied with economic growth.
This perspective is also crude and has had consequences as disastrous for very poor countries as has
the dominance of neo-liberal international economic policies.
As a result, those concerned with the welfare of the peoples of the poorest states, are increasingly
identifying as centrally important, the creation of democratic controls and a robust public ethic that really do work and
the pursuit of development strategies that will equitably share throughout the whole society the material benefits they bring.
These tasks, certainly, are not as straightforward as Nyerere had initially hoped. But we need
to remind ourselves that it was not the World Bank, the IMF, the aid agencies of the industrialized states or mainstream western
economists who had, a decade ago, identified these central development challenges to the world's poorest countries. It was
And what's interesting is that these very same economic experts from the industrialized West who claimed
to know so much about development economics and about the best strategy for the economic development of the world's poor countries,
failed to answer Nyerere when he challenged them on the validity of their assumptions.
Tanzania, like many other Third World countries, implemented austerity measures mandated by the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and by the World Bank as conditions for aid. Yet the structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) imposed on
the poor countries failed to produce results anticipated by the donor countries and their economic experts and development
In his last interview with the New Internationalist published in December 1998 about one year before he died, Nyerere was asked why his alternative
strategy for development had failed. He responded this way:
I was in Washington last year. At the World Bank these people asked me to speak. Then they asked me the
The first question they asked was how did you fail? I responded that we took over a country with 85 per
cent of its adult population illiterate. The British ruled us for 43 years. When they left, there were 2 trained engineers
and 12 doctors. This is the country we inherited.
When I stepped down, there was 91-per cent literacy and every child of school age was in school. We trained
thousands of engineers and doctors and teachers.
In 1988 Tanzania's per capita income was $280. Now, in 1998, it is $140.
So I asked the World Bank people what went wrong. Because for the last ten years Tanzania has been signing
on the dotted line and doing everything the IMF and the World wanted. Enrolment in school has plummeted to 63 per cent and
conditions in health and other social services have deteriorated.
I asked them again: "What went wrong?"
These people just sat there looking at me. Then they asked what could they do? I told them have some
Humility - they are so arrogant!5
Tanzania's transformation from a one-party state to multi-party democracy, and from a socialist state
to a capitalist-oriented one, was a fundamental change with a lasting effect on the lives of the people, rich and poor, educated
and uneducated. And it changed the direction of the country irrevocably because of the impact of globalization in this post-Cold
The opening up of the economy to the private sector in most areas entailed disposition of state assets
for acquisition by local and foreign investors, and rigid compliance with IMF-imposed conditions in order to continue getting
assistance from this financial institution and other aid agencies and donor countries. The same conditions apply today.
And private investment in the public sector continues unabated, as the country continues to
dispose of its assets still under state control in spite of resistance from the old guard in the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), or The
Party of the Revolution, who don't want to dismantle state monopoly of some of the public enterprises.
But the change is irrevocable and was even endorsed by Nyerere, although not without misgivings, who
remained the dominant figure on the political scene in Tanzania until his death in October 1999.
Ten years after he retired from the presidency in November 1985, Mwalimu Nyerere looked back at his leadership
during which he led Tanzania for almost three decades since independence from Britain in December 1961.
They were years of successes and failures, also of hope and despair. Probably the biggest failure was
in the economic arena where the government, as opposed to the private sector, dominated the economy and played the most decisive
role as the owner of the country's major assets. It also imposed severe restrictions on income and private ownership of property
in order to achieve social equality, thus robbing the people of the incentive to work, good intentions notwithstanding.
All this, combined with the interplay of forces beyond Tanzania's control as we saw earlier,
led to serious economic problems and virtual collapse of the economy; prompting Nyerere, in a rare concession among leaders,
to state publicly in his farewell speech in November 1985 when he stepped down from the presidency: "I failed. Let's admit
By that time, agricultural production, the largest
share of the nation's gross domestic product, had declined considerably; industries were producing at half capacity, and the
transport system was in tatters, with the road network - the hub of the transport system - in desperate need of repair. The
infrastructure had virtually collapsed because of failed economic policies.
But Nyerere also left behind a record of great achievements. He was able to maintain peace and stability
in Tanzania throughout his leadership, while many other African countries descended into chaos, torn by civil wars, ethnic
conflicts, military coups, and state-sponsored violence unleashed by security forces against countless innocent civilians.
Very few African leaders can claim to have maintained peace and stability for almost 30 years straight
as Nyerere did in Tanzania. The only exceptions during that period were Zambia, Botswana, Swaziland, Ivory Coast, and Gambia.
And while other African countries imposed one-party dictatorships, Tanzania's one-party system allowed
mass participation in the political process on democratic basis and held elections at regular intervals in which even some
cabinet members who were also members of parliament lost their seats, humbled at the polls by their opponents who were just
Under Nyerere's leadership, Tanzania also made great progress in heath and education, unlike many other
African countries endowed with more resources. In fact, it was during Nyerere's tenure that Tanzania became one of the countries
which made the greatest advances in combating illiteracy. Because of that, Tanzania had a higher literacy rate than India;
yet India is a major country, fairly developed, with some of the most educated people in the world including the third largest
pool of scientists after the United States and the former Soviet Union.
Nyerere will also always be remembered for other great achievements. His support for the African liberation
movements - all of which were based in Tanzania - in their struggle against colonial rule and white racist regimes, is unequalled
by that of any other leader on the continent.
It cost Tanzania a lot, tens of millions of dollars from the national coffers in a desperately poor country,
yet without flinching. In fact, the country's involvement in the liberation struggle on such a large scale was not only highly
expensive for a poor country but had a direct negative impact on the economy in terms of money spent to support the campaign.
It was an enormous sacrifice.
Ghana under Nkrumah in the sixties did the same, also at an enormous cost; a point also underscored by
John Kufuor, in an interview, after he became Ghana's president years later in 2000 in which he said Nkrumah spent a lot of
money to support the liberation struggle in Africa, a sacrifice which had a direct impact on Ghana's financial position.
Nyerere's commitment to African unity also produced tangible results unmatched anywhere else in Africa.
It was on his initiative that the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar was formed, the only union of independent countries that
has ever been formed on the continent and which still exists today as the United Republic of Tanzania.
Even with his failed economic policies, all those achievements, and much more, shall endure as a monument
to his great leadership.
And in the economic field, he said more than ten years after his retirement that he would do
many things differently if he could turn back the clock. But he remained unshaken in his belief in socialism until his death.
As he stated in an interview with The New York Times in his home village of Butiama in northern Tanzania in September 1996 where he returned after
he retired from the presidency in November 1985: "I would still write the Arusha
Declaration. I believe in it. It is right.”7
On another occasion, he said the only thing he would change was a few words and phrases here
and there in the Swahili version of the Arusha Declaration, leaving the rest of the document intact, without in any way compromising its essence.
But Nyerere acknowledged that socialism never mixed
well with the traditional way of life in African villages in terms of property ownership, especially of the farm.
It is possible, he said, to have farmers own a tractor collectively, or cooperate in buying
fertilizer or selling grain. But he said that in hindsight, it was a big mistake to collectivize the individual farms, or
mashamba in Kiswahili,
which families had owned for generations.
He also said it was a mistake to nationalize sisal - one of the country's major export crops which is
grown on large plantations owned by private companies before being nationalized - and other industries, especially in the
manufacturing sector, as well as banks.
But he still defended mobilizing the masses into ujamaa - collectivized - villages. It was the right thing to do, he said, if only to make the most
of the schools, roads and health clinics the government had built and others it could afford to build.
Yet that is also what caused some of the country's biggest problems. Many people resented being
put together into ujamaa villages, a move which led to low morale and low productivity. Tanzania, with her meagre resources, also spread
herself too thin by providing free services in all those areas: education was free, medical service was free, water was free,
as were many other social amenities, for everybody. People didn't have to pay a cent for all those services including those
with enough money who could easily afford to pay for that.
Free service was provided across the country in all those areas and others. And it was justified on the
grounds that the vast majority of the people were desperately poor and could not afford to pay for education and medical service
- or for any other social services - on their own.
That was one of the reasons why Tanzania's taxes were among the highest in the world: to help pay for
all those services in a country which also was, and still is, one of the poorest in the world.
And that was indeed the case. Most Tanzanians could not afford education and medical service on their
own. Therefore providing them free was the right thing to do; it was social equity and no one quarrelled with that. But it
also proved to be very costly and contributed to the country's economic ruin despite good intentions.
Abolishing ujamaa villages would have boosted production on family-owned or individual farms because private
ownership leads to higher productivity; it is an incentive to production. And traditionally, African farms are, for the most
part, privately owned. As Nyerere himself admitted, "The shamba (farm) can't be socialized."
Therefore ujamaa villages should have been abolished back in the seventies when there was widespread resistance
by the peasants against forced removal from their traditional farms to be relocated in collective settlements of ujamaa villages.
People tend to work harder for themselves than they do for groups. And they care more about their own
property than they do about communal property. With peasants and farmers earning more income on family and individual farms,
and paying lower taxes, they would have been able to pay at least something for the social services being provided by the
government. The poorest should have been asked to pay a token fee or nothing, based on their income; and the rest should have
been assessed a fee, also based on their income, for whatever service they got.
There would have been no need for the government to impose high taxes on the people to pay for the services
they themselves would have been able to afford or pay at least something for them.
Relocating people into ujamaa villages and making them pay high taxes when they were not producing much due to low morale
as result of being forced to live in those collective settlements were some of the biggest dis-incentives to production Tanzania
suffered since the policy of ujamaa was introduced in 1967.
By 1995, according to a World Bank report, Tanzania ranked 172nd out of 174 countries in world
income tables; her per capita income was a mere $100; her international debt burden was overwhelming and unbearable - it was
more than 200 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in 1996; and half the government's budget depended on foreign aid8 which dwindled under the new
world order following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
The world's major powers were no longer interested in propping up client states, nurtured during the ideological
rivalry between the East and the West in the Cold war era; nor were they interested in buying the friendship of small poor
countries with financial aid and other inducements to keep their adversaries out of those countries. And that is what is going
Therefore, Tanzania's failed economic policies cost the country enormously. Ujamaa villages might have been successful if the people
moved into those settlements willingly, attracted by their benefits as an inducement, and if they were allowed to move out
of them if they were not satisfied with the results and life in there; also if they did not have to pay high taxes.
But even such voluntary collective settlements would probably not have provided catalytic change in the economic
transformation of Tanzania because their main attraction would have been social services - schools and clinics - provided
by the government, and not profit. This incentive, profit, comes from family and individual farms where farmers work hard
for themselves, and even harder if they pay lower taxes, because they are able to keep for themselves most of what they earn.
villages did not generate that kind of income and profit for individuals and families living in those collective settlements
where they were also burdened with high taxes on meagre earnings; the problem compounded by corruption among the officials
overseeing the socialist transformation programme. The result was economic failure from which Tanzania has not fully recovered
and which may take many more years to overcome.
Yet with great achievements in health and education, and provision of social equity, Tanzania's economic policies
cannot be said to have been a total failure. But they had to be replaced with free market policies in this era of globalization
because of the fundamental changes that have taken place in the international system since the triumph of capitalism over
communism towards the end of the twentieth century.
There is no question that in most cases, bad economic policies and bad leadership ruined Africa in the post-colonial
period. The continent lost an entire generation in terms of development.
International donors and lenders, tired of seeing their money go down the drain but also determined to exercise
hegemonic control over the continent for their own benefit more than anything else, played a critical role in changing the
economic policies of African countries.
They instituted a shock-therapy programme for Africa and other Third World regions, demanding imposition of
austerity measures to rejuvenate the economies through financial discipline, adoption of free-market policies, and maximum
sacrifice from the people of those countries. They were draconian measures known as structural adjustment programmes.
Structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) had a devastating impact on the lives of tens of millions of people,
causing severe hardship for families and individuals. And they still do. As Chinua Achebe stated in his Presidential Fellow
Lecture before the World Bank Group in 1998:
I believe it was in the first weeks of 1989 that I received an invitation to an anniversary meeting - the twentieth-fifth
year, or something like that - of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris....
They talked in particular about the magic bullet of the 1980s, structural adjustment, specifically designed
for those parts of the world where economies had gone completely haywire. The matter was really simple, the experts seemed
to be saying; the only reason for failure to develop was indiscipline of all kinds, and the remedy was a quick, sharp administration
of shock treatment....The most recurrent prescriptions for this condition were the removal of subsidies on food and fuel and
the devaluation of the national currency....
Then the governor of the Bank of Kenya made his presentation. As I recall the events, he was probably the only
other African at that session. He asked the experts to consider the case of Zambia, which according to him had accepted, and
had been practising, a structural adjustment regime for something like 10 years, and whose economic condition was now worse
than it had been when they began their treatment. An American expert who seemed to command great attention and was accorded
high deference in the room, spoke again. He repeated what had already been said many times before: 'Be patient, it will work
in time, trust me,' or words to that effect....
I signaled my desire to speak and was given the floor. I told them what I had just recognized. I said that what
was going on before me was a fiction workshop, no more and no less!
'Here you are, spinning your fine theories to be tried out in your imaginary laboratories. You are developing
new drugs and feeding them to a bunch of laboratory guinea pigs and hoping for the best. I have news for you. African is not
fiction. Africa is people, real people. Have you thought about that?
You are brilliant people, world experts. You may even have the very best intentions. But have you thought, really
thought, of Africa as people? I will tell you the experience of my own country, Nigeria, with structural adjustment.
After two years of this remedy, we saw the country's minimum wage fall in value from the equivalent of 15 British
pounds to 5 pounds a month. This is not a lab report; it is not a mathematical exercise. We are talking about someone whose
income, which is already miserable enough, is now reduced to one-third of what it was two years ago. And this flesh-and-blood
man has a wife and children. You say he should simply go home and tell them to be patient. Now let me ask you this question:
Would you recommend a similar remedy to your own government? How do you sell it to an elected president? You are asking him
to commit political suicide, or perhaps get rid of elections altogether until he has fixed the economy.
Do you realize that's what you're doing?'9
None of the experts could give a good answer to any of those questions. They are the same questions raised by
many people, including leaders, in Africa and in other parts of the Third World.
One of those leaders was Nyerere who had a tempestuous relationship with the IMF and the World Bank because
of the refusal of the economic experts at these leading financial institutions to see Africa's problems from the perspective
of the victims, the poor masses who were living in abject poverty and suffering miserably; yet who were told to sacrifice
to get out of their miserable condition as if they had something to offer in sacrifice. Desperately poor people have nothing
to sacrifice except their lives.
The leading international financial institution, besides the
World Bank, in this new revival has been the IMF (International Monetary Fund), although its stringent conditions for aid
have not always been valid in all contexts; one of them being Tanzania which differed with the IMF over the country's economic
In 1984 when Nyerere was still president, he explained in detail Tanzania's stand on the IMF proposals as they
related to the country's development and economic plight. He said the major difference between Tanzania and the IMF was not
based on the conditions demanded by the latter but the extent to which such conditions could be applied in Tanzania.
In an interview with local and foreign journalists at the State House in Dar es Salaam on November 22, Nyerere
said that none of the IMF packages ranging from massive devaluation, reduction of government deficits to liberalization of
imports, had helped any Third World economy. As he explained:
They (international financial institutions) advised us to liberalize imports in 1977 when we had surplus in foreign
reserves and we did. But we have been in trouble ever since.10
He went on to say that imposition of the ready-made prescriptions on poor countries as a condition for aid was
Any serious Third World government will ask serious questions. I cannot sign an agreement (with the IMF) and then
have riots on the streets. You may be the economic experts but I am the political expert - allow me at least to say how much
the people can take.11
Nyerere further explained that blind acceptance of the IMF packages would force the government to turn the police
force against the people. The president said the government was flexible in its economic policies and had taken a number of
measures similar to those recommended by the IMF; and went on to stress:
We don't say we don't change but we say how much should we change. Every government will have to ask that. Every
government asks that.12
He said Tanzania needed the financial aid offered by the IMF but insisted that the negotiations must be balanced.
Commenting on government involvement in running the economy, Nyerere said all governments, including that of the United States,
had to make decisions dealing with the economy. He cited as an example the deliberate decision by the American government
to maintain "huge deficits" in its annual budget:
Those deficits are a government decision and it pervades the total economy.13
Nyerere said the higher degree of government control of the economy in Tanzania was basically historical because
most of the economic infrastructure, including industry, was created by the government, pointing out that little was inherited
from the colonial powers (first, Germany, and then Britain). As he put it:
In Tanzania we do a little bit more than they (other countries) do. It is partly historical, partly ideological...but
But he insisted that Tanzania would continue to pursue socialism and self-reliance as the only means to achieve
development. However, he told the press conference that collectivization in the rural areas would continue to be voluntary:
It has never been the intention to force collectivization in Tanzania.15
It is true that forcing people to build, move into, and live in ujamaa
villages, had never been the policy of the government under Nyerere.
But many overzealous officials who implemented that policy resorted to intimidation and other tactics to forcibly mobilize
the people into those collective settlements.
There was excessive use of force and abuse of power. Peasant farming was collectivized between 1973 and 1976, triggering
riots and retaliatory violence against government agents enforcing the policy of collectivization.16 And a number of people were killed on both sides.
President Nyerere reported that by mid-1975, over 9 million Tanzanians - then close to about half the entire population
- had been moved into more than 6,000 ujamaa villages.
In 1976, the government launched a massive sweep of Dar es Salaam, the capital and the country's largest city,
and rounded up thousands of the unemployed and sent them to rural areas to work in their home villages or in new settlements.17 And by 1980, 91 percent of the people in
the rural areas lived in ujamaa villages. It was a feat of social engineering without precedent anywhere else in Africa.
But, in spite of his commitment to socialism, Nyerere
never ruled out capitalist involvement in the socialist transformation of Tanzania. In fact, the Arusha Declaration which he wrote almost single-handedly
welcomed such participation and foreign involvement. As he explained in the interview in 1984 almost exactly one year before
he retired from the presidency, Tanzania would continue to invite foreign private firms to invest in the country under mutual
agreements which did not compromise the principles of either party.
He told a questioner that this was not a capitalistic tendency. He said Tanzania had been willing to cooperate
with private companies all along, citing the General Tyre (East Africa) Company formed jointly with an American firm shortly
after the Arusha Declaration was issued in February 1967. As he told the reporters and others at the press conference:
I have been advised that it is correct to use capitalists to develop socialism.18
But socialism failed to develop Tanzania's economy despite some success in import-substitution industrialization,
an achievement which is sometimes overlooked when people talk about the country's failed economic policies. But the failure
was disastrous, and no amount of clever sheet-balancing can mitigate its effects.
However, it is critical to understand the context in which the Arusha
Declaration was formulated and why Nyerere found it necessary to start
and exhort Tanzanians - and other Africans in general - to be self-reliant.
It was the nature of the international system - political and economic - whose creation after the end of World
War II was predicated on the preservation and promotion of the national and geopolitical interests of the major powers which
determined the nature of the response from weak and poor countries such as Tanzania to the domination of the world by the
They would have to try to protect themselves or accept such domination. Tanzania under Nyerere chose to find a
way out of this predicament by charting out a new course towards political and economic independence. It could not even start
thinking about protecting its interests if it was not truly independent. As Cranford Pratt stated in Southern Africa Report:
Nyerere shared the preoccupation with economic development with almost all of the Third World leaders of his
generation. From Nehru to Nkrumah to Manley; all were determined that their peoples should more fully enjoy the improvements
in personal welfare that economic development should entail.
His...central concern that Tanzania not surrender control of the direction of its economic development to international
capitalist interests or international agencies dominated by the major industrialized states - reflected not only nationalist
aspirations but also a profound sense that integration into the international economic system would bring little advantage,
especially to the poorest countries, if they were unable to manage skilfully and selectively their relationships with the
major capitalist countries.
This remained a central concern to Nyerere thought throughout his life. It contributed to the decision to launch
the socialist initiatives in 1967 and it drove his desperate and finally unsuccessful efforts in the early 1980s to break
free of the policy directives of the World Bank and the IMF.
His attempts first with the South Commission and then the South Centre to build a powerful counter-weight to OECD,
were essentially an internationalization of his continuing conviction that the Third World had to find ways to avoid being
dominated by the developed countries.19
One of the earliest successes of this policy of self-reliance as enunciated by Nyerere
was, as we saw, in the area of import substitution. Besides some achievement in this area, there was also a strong emphasis
on food production in order for the country to be self-sufficient instead of begging other countries for food to feed its
But such self-sufficiency was also emphasized at the expense of export-crop growth on which the country depended
to earn desperately needed foreign exchange as it still does today. And it was a noble objective. People can't eat cotton,
coffee or tobacco. Food comes first before export crops. However, even food production declined due to lack of incentives
as did the production of export crops for the same reasons including corruption and high taxes.
As production declined, budget deficits grew.
The end of the coffee boom of the 1970s and soaring oil prices also had a devastating impact on Tanzania's fragile
economy, especially in 1979, the same year the country fought a full-scale war against Idi Amin''s forces. The expenses incurred
in this conflict were an astronomical amount for a poor country like Tanzania. And the country's poor economic performance
continued to take its toll.
The infrastructure crumbled during that period. Roads were in desperate need of repair; intermittent supply of
electricity affected industrial production; communications and transport were in disarray, and with only a few vehicles on
the road compared with the country's needs. The Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA) virtually collapsed. Buses did not run on
regular basis. Fuel became scarce and too expensive. The currency was devalued. Farmers suffered a lot because some of the
policies being implemented by government officials were biased against them. And corruption became rampant as the economy
continued its downward spiral. As Professor Harvey Glickman who spent some time in Tanzania studying the country's economy
stated in his article, "Tanzania: From Disillusionment to Guarded Optimism," in Current
History: A Journal of Contemporary World Affairs:
Policy bias against farmers, an overvalued currency that cheapened imports, and a bloated and politicized bureaucracy
made gaining the ability to grant licenses, tariff protections, and franchises the chief goal of the ambitious and powerful.
A political class acquired a vested interest in controls, which strangled enterprise. From 1980 to 1985, per capita income
fell by 12 percent.20
It was during this period, between 1981 and 1985, that President Nyerere got involved in negotiations with the
IMF to help rejuvenate the economy.
They were tough negotiations, with the IMF determined to dictate terms to Tanzania and other countries, prompting
Nyerere to publicly ask who elected the IMF to be the finance ministry for every country in the world.
That also marked the beginning of the end of Tanzania's socialist policies. It was a fundamental change Nyerere
was not enthusiastic about; which explains why he was so opposed to some of the IMF proposals - the extent to which liberalization
of the economy should be carried out - and entered into those negotiations only reluctantly.
However, Tanzania had no choice but to comply with the IMF conditions if the country was to reverse its economic
decline. As Adebayo Adedeji, an internationally renowned Nigerian economist who was then the executive secretary of the UN
Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), stated in 1983 when the negotiations between Tanzania and the IMF were still going on:
The donor countries and institutions have the last word,
rather than the governments themselves, such as in the recent controversy between the IMF and Tanzania. I think, in the final
analysis, that the IMF won.
This is the grueling reality of poverty. When you are poor, you can never be right. It is the rich country that
is right, because it is the only one that can help you out.21
Like all the other African countries, Tanzania had to adopt stringent austerity measures as a condition for
financial aid from the IMF and donor nations of the industrial West. The measures included structural adjustment programmes
which demanded reducing controls on marketing and currency exchange rates as well as cutting overall public expenditure, thus
causing severe hardship on the people who saw a drastic reduction in the provision of social services and education without
a corresponding rise in income. Also implementation of these draconian IMF-imposed measures led to recession, instead of the
reverse being the case as anticipated by the proponents of the austerity programmes.
When Ali Hassan Mwinyi succeeded Nyerere as president in November 1985, he continued to implement the IMF structural
adjustment programmes and agreed to further austerity measures. One of those was the Economic Recovery Programme of 1986 -
it was implemented well into 1992 with IMF backing as the Economic and Social Action Programme - which produced some positive
results, especially in freeing foreign exchange, reducing tariffs, and breaking down crop-marketing cooperatives which exercised
almost absolute control over the farmers in terms of price control.
Implementation of those measures led to some improvement in the economy. Farmers growing export crops, traders,
and small manufacturers benefited from this economic growth, but most of the people in Tanzania experienced exactly the opposite.
There was not enough improvement. Public sector salaries dropped, and social services declined as did school
enrolment. And the incentive to produce remained low.
The country still has a long way to go before it achieves significant economic growth. Socialism has been replaced
by capitalism but millions of Tanzanians, especially the poor, remember the Nyerere era with nostalgia and wish those days
were here again.
But they are gone forever in this era of globalization dominated by the industrial West, Nyerere's nemesis.
Tanzania after Nyerere
A number of significant changes have taken place in Tanzania
since Nyerere left office. And they are fundamental changes in many respects.
Socialism has been renounced as a state ideology, even if not
in so strident a tone in deference to Mwalimu probably more than anything else. And capitalism has returned with a vengeance.
The one-party system has also been abandoned, although Tanzania
remains a de
state for all practical purposes. Multiparty democracy has been introduced, although it has had little impact on the political
scene because of the weakness of the parties and their leaders. They have offered nothing new. They have also been compromised
by their partisan nature by appealing to ethnoregional loyalties.
And Zanzibar remains a tinderbox, with the opposition in the
former island nation determined to wreck the union, having been emboldened by Nyerere's departure from this world.
But none of this has seriously affected the domestic tranquility
the country has enjoyed since independence as one of the most peaceful and stable in the entire world; also one of the most
united, although there have been some disturbances now and then, here and there, through the years since the introduction
of multiparty politics in 1992, much of this being attributed to mischief-making within the opposition camp to score political
kudos where other means - of fair play - have failed to win them support among the masses, in spite of their legitimacy as
alternative forums for ventilation of grievances and articulation of new ideas in the political arena.
Where Tanzania is headed in this post-Nyerere and post-Cold
War era of global capitalism and multiparty democracy is an entirely different matter. But it requires serious thinking among
all Tanzanians about the destiny of this island of peace and stability on a turbulent continent, lest disruptive elements
and unscrupulous politicians somehow manage to mislead a significant number of people into believing what they are being told
in order to promote their own interests at the expense of the nation.
And there are indications that is indeed the case. There are a
number of political parties that are unabashedly regionalist in orientation. The main opposition party in Zanzibar, the Civic
United Front (CUF), which is strongest on Pemba island, has made it clear that it is not interested in maintaining the union.
As its leader Shariff Hamad bluntly stated in October 2000 just before the general election in an interview with Time: "If we win, I see no reason to stay in the
Union. Zanzibaris have not benefited from it one bit. I would go to the mainland and start talks on a program to move toward
Zanzibar's former Attorney-General and later Chief Justice Wolfgang Dourado
who once was detained for more than 100 days for criticizing the union and calling for a three-government federation during
Nyerere's presidency, articulated similar sentiments, probably echoed by many Zanzibaris, when he was also interviewed in
October 2000 by Time: "The millions and billions of aid and development
money that comes into Tanzania, do your research into how much of it comes here. Nothing. We try to talk to them, but it's
a dialogue with the deaf and dumb."2
Tanzania's former first vice president who also was the president
of Zanzibar, Aboud Jumbe, was just as blunt about his disenchantment with the union. He resigned – there were reports
that he was forced to resign - in 1984 because of his opposition to the structural arrangements of the union and wanted Tanzania
to have three governments, instead of two as is the case today.
There is a union government for the united republic which is
also the government of the Tanzania mainland, the former independent country of Tanganyika, and a separate government for
Zanzibar. Aboud Jumbe wanted three governments: one for the union, one for Zanzibar, and one for Tanganyika; a move that was
strongly opposed by President Nyerere who said it would lead to the break-up of the union.
Jumbe even wrote a book about the problem, The Partnership: Tanganyika-Zanzibar Union:
30 Turbulent Years, published in 1994, ten years after he resigned, in which he contends that Zanzibar has not benefited from the
union since it was formed in 1964. As he stated at a press conference in Dar es Salaam in January 1998 on the 34th anniversary
of the Zanzibar revolution, he did not understand why the government continued to maintain the rigid structure of the union
and refused to have three governments in spite of the desire for such change among many people in the country. As he put it:
"I don't understand why the government should cling to this stand, but I suspect it is for the same reasons that my book,
The Partnership, has been ignored since the era of the single
On whether or not the union was beneficial, and if it had in any way benefited
Tanzania mainland since he said it had not benefited Zanzibar, he bluntly stated: "Ask Nyerere, because he is the one who
went to Zanzibar. He is the one who wanted the union. He must have had goals. Has he achieved them? I cannot speak for mainlanders
on the achievement of the union."4
Aboud Jumbe also went on to say that he believed the shortcomings
of the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar had played a major role in delaying the establishment of an East African federation.
Nyerere played a critical role in maintaining a stable union
because of his great influence. People on both sides listened to him. His formidable influence was also clearly evident in
other areas; for example, when he helped Dr. Eduardo Mondlane to win the leadership of FRELIMO; in fact it was said that Mondlane
was "handpicked" by Nyerere to lead the Mozambican liberation movement.
He also played a critical role in helping Samora Machel, a
much more capable leader than his opponents, to become the next president of FRELIMO after Dr. Mondlane was assassinated in
February 1969. It is said that some Tanzanian cabinet members during that time wanted FRELIMO's vice president, Uria Simango,
to be the next leader. As Professor John Saul, who taught at the University of Dar es Salaam and worked closely with some
Tanzanian government officials when Nyerere was president, stated:
Certainly I recall, from reasonably close at hand, the struggle
in the late 1960s over the sucession to Mondlane within FRELIMO, the Mozambican liberation movement still primarily domiciled
on Tanzanian soil.
The outcome, that saw the far more worthy Samora Machel defeat
the Simango faction, was won primarily because Nyerere had the political will and craft to back down the 'cultural nationalist'
triumvirate, so strong within TANU at that time, of (Bhoke) Munanka, (Lawi Nangwanda) Sijaona, and (Saidi) Maswanya, a group
who sought, initially, to have the Tanzanian state guarantee Simango's ascendancy....
This example...demonstrates the kind of power Nyerere could exercise
when he cared to do so.5
Nyerere also strongly supported Robert Mugabe, helping him
to consolidate his position in ZANU (Zimbabwe African National union) and become the most influential leader of the liberation
struggle in Zimbabwe overshadowing the veteran politician Joshua Nkomo. He played the role of king maker, not only in those
two countries but elsewhere including Uganda after the ouster of Idi Amin.
Therefore, he exerted even more influence in his own country,
and the Zanzibar crisis was just one of those he managed skillfully. That is why there was speculation that the union would
not survive after he died. But it has survived.
Still, there is no question that there are serious problems
in the union. And they have assumed another dimension, threatening to destroy it, since Nyerere died. There is no guarantee
that if a referendum were held today, the majority of the people of Zanzibar would vote in favour of the union as it is currently
structured; although many of them don't want to see it destroyed because of the benefits they get from being a part of a larger
economically secure political entity.
The union should be renegotiated and restructured to accommodate
the interests of Zanzibaris and ventilate their grievances. And they do have grievances. That is why Tanzania's ruling party,
CCM, is not very popular in Zanzibar. The union can and should be saved. The question is how.
Continue to talk to the people of Zanzibar. Listen to their
grievances. Give them meaningful concessions including cabinet posts. Otherwise we are going to have an eruption which could
threaten and even destroy the union. Formation of coalition government, which should include leading opposition members, is
one of the best solutions to this crisis.
Giving some cabinet posts to members of the opposition, on
the mainland and and in Zanzibar, may seem to be too much of a concession; it is as if the government is capitulating to extortionist
demands by the opposition. But that is not the case. It is consensus building critical to peace and stability, without which
it is impossible to maintain a stable union.
It has been done elsewhere, and it can also be done in Tanzania.
For example, when John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, was president, he appointed some Republicans to his cabinet. And they held
some of the most prominent cabinet posts. They were Dean Rusk who was secretary of state; Robert McNamara, secretary of defense;
and Douglas Dillon who served as secretary of the treasury under two Democratic administrations of Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.
This is not to say that because it has been done in the United
States and other countries, it should also be done in Tanzania. It is simply to say that if the opposition is not given a
prominent role to play in national affairs, and is not included in decision making at the highest level, it will be almost
impossible to build consensus across the spectrum so critical to maintaining a stable union.
The opposition has its own weaknesses. It has failed to mobilize
support across the nation. But this should also be looked at in its proper historical context.
The people of Tanzania have lived under one-party rule for
more than 40 years since independence; the same party that won independence is the same party that is in power today. And
they know what this party has done for them in terms of maintaining peace and stability and providing services, especially
under Nyerere when education was free and medical service was also free. Therefore they are not used to changing national
leadership along party lines, and they don't know what will happen if the opposition gets power.
But for democracy to survive, and thrive, you need a strong
opposition. The opposition parties need to merge and form one strong political party. There are just too many of them and
they are not united behind a single candidate who can be a credible challenge to the presidential candidate of the ruling
party in the general election.
But the government also has a duty to strengthen the opposition
by increasing the number of opposition members in parliament on the basis of proportional representation. Every vote counts.
Therefore the people who vote for the opposition should also be represented in parliament.
The constitution should also be re-written to reflect new realities
and accommodate conflicting interests. It should be re-written not just by the members of parliament but by representatives
of different interest groups - opposition parties, labour organizations, students, professionals, women, religious bodies,
regional groups and others - whose recommendations by a special constitutional commission must be taken into account when re-writing the
That is the only way the constitution can reflect the will
of the people and acquire legitimacy as the embodiment of their aspirations.
All this should be done only after the constitutional proposals
have been discussed at a national convention attended by representatives of all interest groups across the nation; the new constitution to be
ratified by a constituent assembly specifically convened for this purpose.
A constitution is not holy writ, like the Bible or the Koran.
It is written by man, and it can be re-written by man. It is not an infallible document like the word of God.
Nyerere's era of one-party rule is gone forever, although Tanzania
is now a de
state because of the weakness of the opposition. But challenge to its leadership is something that should be expected to continue
now that the country has adopted multiparty democracy. Yet, multiparty democracy has no functional utility without a two-party
system. Third parties are a nuisance. They never win elections.
But it will be a long time before Tanzania has a credible opposition.
The ruling party, CCM, will probably remain in power for a long time because of its track record. It has impeccable - and
formidable - credentials as a nationalist and Pan-Africanist movement, one of the most successful in the entire Third World
because of the leadership provided by Nyerere for almost half a century since TANU was founded in 1954.
It led the struggle for independence and won. It promised to
deliver goods and services to the people, and it did, especially under Nyerere. And it has continued to advance its populist
agenda under his successors and the people have responded positively to that, although much remains to be done especially
in this era of globalization dominated by greed at the expense of the masses.
It will be extremely difficult to dislodge CCM from power.
It is highly unlikely that the opposition will win the next general election or any other in the next twenty or thirty years.
As one opposition leader said in 2000, CCM is going to remain in power for 500 years.
The future was never meant for us to see. But he could be vindicated
YOU WANTED me to reflect. I told you I had very little time
I am not an engineer (reference to the vice-chancellor of the
University of Dar es Salaam who identified himself as an engineer in his introductory remarks) and therefore what I am going
to say might sound messy, unstructured and possibly irrelevant to what you intend to do; but I thought that if by reflecting,
you wanted me to go back and relive the political life that I have lived for the last 30, 40 years, that I cannot do.
And in any case, in spite of the fact that it’s useful
to go back in history, what you are talking about is what might be of use to Africa in the 21st century. History’s important,
obviously, but I think we should concentrate and see what might be of use to our continent in the coming century.
What I want to do is share with you some thoughts on two issues
concerning Africa. One, an obvious one; when I speak, you will realise how obvious it is. Another one, less obvious, and I’ll
spend a little more time on the less obvious one, because I think this will put Africa in what is going to be Africa’s
context in the 21st century. And the new leadership of Africa will have to concern itself with the situation in which it finds
itself in the world tomorrow - in the world of the 21st century. And the Africa I’m going to be talking about, is Africa
south of the Sahara, sub-Saharan Africa.
I’ll explain later the reason why I chose to concentrate
on Africa south of the Sahara. It is because of the point I want to emphasise.
It appears today that in the world tomorrow, there are going
to be three centers of power: some, political power; some, economic power, but three centers of real power in the world. One
center is the United States of America and Canada; what you call North America. That is going to be a huge economic power,
and probably for a long time the only military power, but a huge economic power.
The other one is going to be Western Europe, another huge economic
power. I think Europe is choosing deliberately not to be a military power. I think they deliberately want to leave that to
the United States.
The other one is Japan. Japan is in a different category but
it is better to say Japan, because the power of Japan is quite clear, the economic power of Japan is obvious.
The three powers are going to affect the countries near them.
I was speaking in South Africa recently and I referred to Mexico. A former president of Mexico, I think it must have been
after the revolution in 1935, no, after the revolution; a former president of Mexico is reported to have complained about
his country or lamented about his country. “Poor Mexico,” said the president, “so far from God yet so near
the United States.”
He was complaining about the disadvantages of being a neighbour
of a giant. Today, Mexico has decided not simply to suffer the disadvantages of being so close to the United States. And the
United States itself has realised the importance of trying to accommodate Mexico.
In the past there were huge attempts by the United States to prevent
people from moving from Mexico into the United States; people seeking work, seeking jobs. So you had police, a border very well policed in order to
prevent Mexicans who seek, who
for jobs, to
into the United States. The United States discovered that it was not working. It can’t work.
There is a kind of economic osmosis where whatever you do, if
you are rich, you are attractive to the poor. They will come, they’ll even risk their own lives in order to come.
So the United States tried very hard to prevent Mexicans going
into the United States; they’ve given up, and the result was NAFTA. It is in the interest of the United States to try
and create jobs in Mexico because, if you don’t, the Mexicans will simply come, to the United States; so they’re
Europe, Western Europe, is very wealthy. It has two Mexicos. One
is Eastern Europe. If you want to prevent those Eastern Europeans to come to Western Europe, you jolly will have to create
jobs in Eastern Europe, and Western Europe is actually doing that. They are doing that. They’ll help Eastern Europe to
develop. The whole of Western Europe will be doing it, the Germans are doing it.
The Germans basically started first of all with the East Germans
but they are spending lots of money also helping the other countries of Eastern Europe to develop, including unfortunately,
or fortunately for them, including Russia. Because they
realise, Europeans realise including the Germans, if you don’t help Russia to develop, one of these days you are going to be in trouble.
So it is in the interest of Western Europe, to help Eastern
Europe including Russia. They are pouring a lot of money in that part of the world, in that part of Europe, to try and help
it to develop.
I said Western Europe has two Mexicos. I have mentioned one. I’ll
jump the other. I jump Europe’s second Mexico. I’ll go to Asia. I’ll go to Japan. Japan - a wealthy island,
very wealthy indeed, but an island. I don’t think they’re very keen
on the unemployed of Asia to go to Japan. They’d rather help them where they are, and Japan is spending a lot of money
in Asia, to help create jobs in Asia, prevent those Asians dreaming about going to Japan to look for jobs. In any case, Japan is too small, they
can’t find wealth there.
But apart from what Japan is doing, of course Asia is Asia; Asia has China! Asia has India, and the small countries of Asia are not
very small. The population of Indonesia is twice the population of Nigeria, your biggest.
So Asia is virtually in a category, of the Third World countries,
of the Southern countries; Asia is almost in a category of its own. It is developing as a power, and Europe knows it, and
the United States knows it. And in spite of the huge Atlantic, now they are talking about the Atlantic Rim. That is in recognition of the importance of Asia.
I go back to Europe. Europe has a second Mexico. And Europe’s
second Mexico is North Africa. North Africa is to Europe what Mexico is to the United States. North Africans who have no jobs
will not go to Nigeria; they’ll be thinking of Europe or the Middle East, because of the imperatives of geography and
history and religion and language. North Africa is part of Europe and the Middle East.
Nasser was a great leader and a great African leader. I got on extremely well with him.
Once he sent me a minister, and I had a long discussion with his minister at the State House here, and in the course of the
discussion, the minister says to me, “Mr. President, this is my first visit to Africa.”
North Africa, because of the pull of the Mediterranean, and
I say, history and culture, and religion, North Africa is pulled towards the North. When North Africans look for jobs, they
go to Western Europe and southern Western Europe, or they go to the Middle East. And Europe has a specific policy for North
Africa, specific policy for North Africa. It’s not only about development; it’s also about security. Because of
you don’t do something about North Africa, they’ll come.
Africa, south of the Sahara, is different; totally different. If you have no jobs here in Tanzania,
where do you go? The Japanese have no fear that you people will flock to Japan. The North Americans have no fear that you
people will flock to North America. Not even from West Africa. The Atlantic, the Atlantic as an ocean, like the Mediterranean,
it has its own logic. But links North America and Western Europe, not North America and West Africa.
Africa south of the Sahara is isolated. That is the first point
I want to make. South of the Sahara is totally isolated in terms of that configuration of developing power in the world in
the 21st century - on its own. There is no centre of power in whose self-interest it’s important to develop Africa,
no centre. Not North America, not Japan, not
Western Europe. There’s no self-interest to bother about Africa south of the Sahara. Africa south of the Sahara is on
its own. Na
si jambo baya.
Those of you who don’t know Kiswahili, I just whispered,
“Not necessarily bad.”
That’s the first thing I wanted to say about Africa south
of the Sahara. African leadership, the coming African leadership, will have to bear that in mind. You are on your own, Mr.
You mentioned, you know, in the past, there was some Cold War
competition in Africa and some Africans may have exploited it. I never did. I never succeeded in exploiting the Cold War in
Africa. We suffered, we suffered through the Cold War. Look at Africa south of the Sahara. I’ll be talking about it
later. Southern Africa, I mean, look at southern Africa; devastated because of the combination of the Cold War and apartheid.
Devastated part of Africa. It could have been very different. But the Cold War is gone, thank God. But thank God the Cold War is gone,
the chances of the Mobutus also is gone.
So that’s the first thing I wanted to say about Africa
south of the Sahara. Africa south of the Sahara in those terms is isolated. That is the point I said was not obvious and I
had to explain it in terms in which I have tried to explain it. The other one, the second point I want to raise is completely
obvious. Africa has 53 nation-states, most of them in Africa south of the Sahara. If numbers were power, Africa would be the
most powerful continent on earth. It is the weakest; so it’s obvious numbers are not power.
So the second point about Africa, and again I am talking about
Africa south of the Sahara; it is fragmented, fragmented. From the very beginning of independence 40 years ago, we were against
that idea, that the continent is so fragmented. We called it the Balkanisation of Africa. Today, I think the Balkans are talking
about the Africanisation of Europe. Africa’s states are too many, too small, some make no logic, whether political logic
or ethnic logic or anything. They are non-viable. It is not a confession.
The OAU was founded in 1963. In 1964 we went to Cairo to hold,
in a sense, our first summit after the inaugural summit. I was responsible for moving that resolution that Africa must accept
the borders, which we inherited from colonialism; accept them as they are.
That resolution was passed by the organisation (OAU) with two
reservations: one from Morocco, another from Somalia. Let me say why I moved that resolution. In 1960, just before this country
became independent, I think I was then chief minister; I received a delegation of Masai elders from Kenya, led by an American
missionary. And they came to persuade me to let the Masai invoke something called the Anglo-Masai Agreement so that that section
of the Masai in Kenya should become part of Tanganyika; so that when Tanganyika becomes independent, it includes part of Masai,
I suspected the American missionary was responsible for that
idea. I don’t remember that I was particularly polite to him. Kenyatta was then in detention, and here somebody comes
to me, that we should break up Kenya and make part of Kenya part of Tanganyika. But why shouldn’t Kenyatta demand that
the Masai part of Tanganyika should become Masai of Kenya? It’s the same logic. That was in 1960.
In 1961 we became independent. In 1962, early 1962, I resigned
as prime minister and then a few weeks later I received Dr. Banda. Mungu amuweke mahali pema (May God rest his soul in peace). I received Dr. Banda. We had
just, FRELIMO had just been established here and we were now in the process of starting the armed struggle.
So Banda comes to me with a big old book, with lots and lots of
maps in it, and tells me, “Mwalimu, what is this, what is Mozambique? There is no such thing as Mozambique.” I
said, “What do you mean there is no such thing as Mozambique?” So he showed me this map, and he said: “That
part is part of Nyasaland (Malawi was still Nyasaland at that time). That part is part of Southern Rhodesia, that part is
Swaziland, and this part, which is the northern part, Makonde part, that is your part.”
So Banda disposed of Mozambique just like that. I ridiculed
the idea, and Banda never liked anybody to ridicule his ideas. So he left and went to Lisbon to talk to Salazar about this
wonderful idea. I don’t know what Salazar told him. That was ‘62.
In ‘63 we go to Addis Ababa for the inauguration of the
OAU, and Ethiopia and Somalia are at war over the Ogaden. We had to send a special delegation to bring the president of Somalia
to attend that inaugural summit, because the two countries were at war. Why? Because Somalia wanted the Ogaden, a whole province of Ethiopia, saying, “That
is part of Somalia.” And Ethiopia was quietly, the Emperor quietly saying to us that “the whole of Somalia is
part of Ethiopia.”
So those three, the delegation of the Masai, led by the American
missionary; Banda’s old book of maps; and the Ogaden, caused me to move that resolution, in Cairo 1964. And I say, the
resolution was accepted, two countries with reservations, and one was Somalia because Somalia wanted the Ogaden; Somalia wanted
northern Kenya; Somalia wanted Djibouti.
Throw away all our ideas about socialism. Throw them away, give
them to the Americans, give them to the Japanese, give them, so that they can, I don’t know, they can do whatever they
like with them. Embrace capitalism, fine! But you have to be self-reliant.
You here in Tanzania don’t dream that if you privatise every
blessed thing, including the prison, then foreign investors will come rushing. No! No! Your are dreaming! Hawaji! They won’t come! (hawaji!). You just try it.
There is more to privatise in Eastern Europe than here. Norman
Manley, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, in those days the vogue was nationalisation, not privatisation. In those days the vogue
was nationalisation. So Norman Manley was asked as Jamaica was
moving towards independence: “Mr. Prime Minister, are you going to nationalise the economy?” His answer was: “You
can’t nationalise nothing.”
You people here are busy privatising not nothing, we did build something, we built something to privatise. But quite frankly, for the
appetite of Europe, and the appetite of North America, this is privatising nothing. The people with a really good appetite
will go to Eastern Europe, they’ll go to Russia, they’ll not come rushing to Tanzania! Your blessed National Bank
of Commerce, it’s a branch of some major bank somewhere, and in Tanzania you say, “It’s so big we must divide
it into pieces,” which is nonsense.
Africa south of the Sahara is isolated. Therefore, to develop,
it will have to depend upon its own resources basically. Internal resources, nationally; and Africa will have to depend upon
Africa. The leadership of the future will have to devise, try to carry out policies of maximum national self-reliance and maximum collective self-reliance. They have no other
choice. Hamna! (You don’t have it!)
And this, this need to organise collective self-reliance is what
moves me to the second part. The small countries in Africa must move towards either unity or co-operation, unity of Africa.
The leadership of the future, of the 21st century, should have less respect, less respect for this thing called “national
sovereignty.” I’m not saying take up arms and destroy the state, no! This idea that we must preserve the Tanganyika, then preserve the Kenya as they are, is nonsensical!
The nation-states we in Africa, have inherited from Europe. They
are the builders of the nation-states par excellence. For centuries they fought wars! The history of Europe, the history of
the building of Europe is a history of war. And sometimes
their wars when they get hotter although they’re European wars, they call them world wars. And we all get involved. We fight even in Tanganyika here, we
fought here, one world war.
These Europeans, powerful, where little Belgium is more powerful
than the whole of Africa south of the Sahara put together; these powerful European states are moving towards unity, and you people are talking about
the atavism of the tribe, this is nonsense! I am telling you people. How can anybody think of the tribe as the unity of the future? Hakuna! (There’s nothing!).
Europe now, you can take it almost as God-given,
Europe is not going to fight with Europe anymore. The Europeans are not going to take up arms against Europeans. They are
moving towards unity - even the little, the little countries of the Balkans which are breaking up, Yugoslavia breaking up,
but they are breaking up at the same time the building up is taking place. They break up and say we want to come into the
So there’s a building movement, there’s a building of Europe. These countries which have old, old sovereignties,
countries of hundreds of years old; they are forgetting this, they are moving towards unity. And you people, you think Tanzania is sacred?
What is Tanzania!
You have to move towards unity. If these powerful countries see that they have no
future in the nation-states - ninyi mnafikiri mna future katika nini? (what future do you think you have?). So, if we can’t move, if our leadership, our future leadership
cannot move us to bigger nation-states, which I hope they are going to try; we tried and failed. I tried and failed. One of my biggest failures
was actually that. I tried in East Africa and failed. But don’t give up because we, the first leadership, failed, no!
(You try again!). We failed, but the idea is a good idea. That these countries should come together.
Don’t leave Rwanda and Burundi on their own. Hawawezi ku survive (They cannot survive). They can’t.
They’re locked up into a form of prejudice.
If we can’t move towards bigger nation-states, at least
let’s move towards greater co-operation. This is beginning to happen. And the new leadership in Africa should encourage
I want to say only one or two things about what is happening
in southern Africa. Please accept the logic of coming together. South Africa, small; South Africa is very small. Their per
capita income now is, I think $2,000 a year or something around that. Compared with Tanzanians, of course, it is very big,
but it’s poor. If South Africa begins to tackle the problems of the legacy of apartheid, they have no money!
But compared with the rest of us, they are rich. And so, in southern
Africa, there, there is also a kind of osmosis, also an economic osmosis. South Africa’s neighbours send their job seekers
into South Africa. And South Africa will simply
have to accept the logic of that, that they are big, they are attractive. They attract the unemployed from Mozambique, and
from Lesotho and from the rest. They have to accept that fact of life. It’s a problem, but they have to accept it.
South Africa, and I am talking about post-apartheid South Africa.
Post-apartheid South Africa has the most developed and the most dynamic private sector on the continent. It is white, so what?
So forget it is white. It is South African, dynamic, highly developed. If the investors of South Africa begin a new form of
trekking, you have to accept it. It will be ridiculous, absolutely
ridiculous, for Africans to go out seeking investment from North America, from Japan, from Europe, from Russia, and then,
when these investors come from South Africa to invest in your own country, you say, “a! a! These fellows now want to
take over our economy” - this is nonsense.
You can’t have it both ways. You want foreign investors
or you don’t want foreign investors. Now, the most available foreign investors for you are those from South Africa.
And let me tell you, when Europe think in terms of investing,
they might go to South Africa. When North America think
in terms of investing, they might go to South Africa. Even Asia, if they want to invest, the first country they may think of in Africa may be South Africa.
So, if your South Africa is going to be your engine of development, accept the reality, accept the reality.
Don’t accept this sovereignty, South Africa will reduce your sovereignty. What sovereignty do you have?
Many of these debt-ridden countries in Africa now have no soverignty,
they’ve lost it. Imekwenda (It’s gone). Iko mikononi mwa IMF na World Bank (It’s in the hands of the IMF and the World Bank). Unafikiri kuna sovereignty gani? (What kind of sovereignty do you think there
So, southern Africa has an opportunity, southern Africa, the SADC
group, because of South Africa.
Because South Africa now is no longer a destabiliser of the
region, but a partner in development, southern Africa has a tremendous opportunity. But you need leadership, because if you
get proper leadership there, within the next 10, 15 years, that region is going to be the ASEAN (Association of South-East
Asian Nations) of Africa. And it is possible.
But forget the protection of your sovereignties. I believe
the South Africans will be sensitive enough to know that if they are not careful, there is going to be this resentment of
big brother, but that big brother, frankly, is not very big.
West Africa. Another bloc is developing there, but that depends
very much upon Nigeria my brother (looking at the Nigerian High Commissioner - Ambassador), very much so. Without Nigeria,
the future of West Africa is a problem.
West Africa is more balkanised than Eastern Africa. More balkanised,
tiny little states. The leadership will have to come from Nigeria. It came from Nigeria in Liberia; it has come from Nigeria
in the case of Sierra Leone; it will have to come from Nigeria in galvanising ECOWAS. But the military in Nigeria must allow
the Nigerians to exercise that vitality in freedom. And it is my hope that they will do it.
I told you I was going to ramble and it was going to be messy,
but thank you very much.
Mwalimu Nyerere Memorial Site: Written Speeches, South Centre,
Geneva, Switzerland, 2001.
This is an abridged version of Nyerere’s speech at an
international conference at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, December 15, 1997. The transcription of the non-written
speech came from Mrs. Magombe of the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation, Dar es Salaam.
Translation of Kiswahili words, phrases and sentences in Nyerere’s
speech into English in the preceding text, done by the author, Godfrey Mwakikagile.
The Legacies of Julius Nyerere:
An Economist's Reflections
by Professor Gerry Helleiner,
University of Toronto
I spent some of the best years of my life working in Dar es Salaam in the late 1960s when Mwalimu Julius Nyerere
was its inspiring young President.
In later years, I worked for shorter periods in Tanzania - under each of its Presidents - and had many occasions
to reflect on the longer-term role that Nyerere played in his own country. Internationally, too, I have frequently had the
honour and privilege of working in Mwalimu’s ambit, most notably through the South Commission and the South Centre.
I believe I may be the only economist to speak at this conference. (In fact, it is quite possible that I am
the only economist in attendance.) Much of the economics profession has taken rather a dim view of the legacy of Julius Nyerere.
(I won’t dignify with quotation or repetition some of the things I have heard said about him in the World Bank.)
It is precisely because I am an economist - and Mwalimu so evidently was not - that I want to put my profound admiration of his record
and his legacy on the record.
It is undoubtedly in the field of economics that Julius Nyerere has received his worst press, and in which his
legacy has been seen as most negative. The heading for his obituary in the (London) Financial Times read “Man of integrity whose policies
hurt his country”. That in The Economist, while generally friendly, concluded: “He was a magnificent teacher: articulate, questioning,
stimulating, caring. He should never have been given charge of an economy.”
Personally, I see his legacy in the realm of economic and development policy rather differently.
Mwalimu’s grasp of the traditional tenets of economic theory was probably weak and so was that of his
closest advisors and speechwriters (although there were those within government of whom this could certainly not be said).
Most of the criticism coming from economists relates to his “socialist” policies. But his government’s
most damaging economic policy errors, in my view, had little to do with socialism per se. They came relatively late in his Presidency and
were on the relatively non-ideological issue of exchange rate policy; they were errors shared by many other low-income countries
in the early 1980s.
As for his “socialism”, some elements can be faulted as far more serious in their negative economic
consequences than others. Nationalizations and restrictions on competition (including price controls) in the trading, industrial,
agricultural and financial sectors were far beyond governmental management capacities and proved costly. Widespread (and even
forced) “villagization” in the rural sector was not only economically costly but also deeply unpopular.
The “basic industry” policy - to the extent that it was part of Nyerere’s “socialism”
- was also mistaken in that it was premature and inappropriate for so economically small a country; it too proved costly.
All of these “socialist” policies could be foreseen (and were) as likely to slow overall economic growth
and development both immediately and over the longer run. (My personal anxieties in this regard, circa 1969-70, may be found
in an article in the Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 8, no. 1, January, 1972.) Arguably, none seemed likely, of themselves, however, to create
the degree of economic collapse that occurred in the early 1980s. Nor, in my view, did they. Severe macroeconomic shocks -
oil prices, weather, and war against Amin - and their serious domestic mismanagement were required for that.
In the early 1980s, as the UK White Paper on international development put it in its commentary on African experience,
the “worldwide international climate ... left little margin for policy errors” (Eliminating World Poverty: A Challenge for the 21st Century, White Paper on International Development, November 1997,
In Tanzania, there undoubtedly were such policy errors. Again, my view is that Tanzania’s economic dislocations
in the early 1980s were only partially attributable to its efforts to restructure the economy towards socialism. Far more
serious were the errors in macroeconomic policy in the face of severe shocks (as well as, of course, the shocks themselves).
It is important for critical economists (and others) to recall that there were other elements in Nyerere’s
socialist programme - increased equity in the distribution of income; an attempt at a direct assault on bottom-end poverty
(including provision of primary education and clean water); a “leadership code” for politicians and civil servants;
major reform of the educational syllabus; and (at least rhetorical) emphasis on self-reliance and reduced aid dependence.
These elements of Nyerere’s “socialist” programme excited widespread admiration and support
(ultimately too much support of an unhelpful kind) from many academics and policymakers in the capitalist West, particularly
in the Nordic countries and the Presidency of the World Bank. So compelling was this side of his socialist aspirations and
practice that, for some time, admirers were prepared to give Tanzania the benefit of the doubt on the less propitious elements
of its “socialist” development policy and its economic sustainability.
Sadly, as Tanzania’s resource constraints tightened and macroeconomic policies faltered in the late 1970s
and early 1980s most of these supporters lost confidence in the overall Nyerere socialist vision. Their withdrawal of financial
support then worsened what had already become a crisis situation.
The first serious external pressures upon the Government of Tanzania to reform its economic policies were related
primarily to its macroeconomic management policies, not to its socialism, and they came, of course, from the IMF. According to the IMF tenets of the
times, what Tanzania most required in the late 1970s and early 1980s was cross-the-board governmental austerity and severe
It was the effort at imposition of such IMF conditionality that prompted Nyerere’s famous public outburst
(in 1981): “Who elected the IMF to be the Finance Ministry for every country in the world?” (or words to that
There followed an almost total breakdown in Tanzania-IMF relations. Julius Nyerere may be said to have fired
the first African salvo in the great debate over the role of the IMF in Africa. (By a quirk of chance, it was at about the
same time, 1980 that the annual meetings of the IMF were to be chaired by Amir Jamal, Tanzania’s then Minister of Finance.
I remember his recounting his surprise when, upon his arrival in Washington for the meetings, IMF staff presented him with
a draft of his introductory remarks. He thanked them for their thoughtfulness he delighted in recalling, but told them he
had brought his own speech.)
At this point (1980-81), Nyerere and Tanzania were still sufficiently respected that the then-President of the
World Bank, Robert McNamara, initiated a mediation effort to seek an accommodation between the IMF and the Tanzanians. This
was to be attempted through the provision of technical assistance for the preparation, in Tanzania, of an alternative to the
IMF’s stabilization and structural adjustment plan; the Government of Tanzania was given a voice (and indeed veto power)
over the composition of the three-person team which was given the ultimate responsibility for the task.
With both expatriate and local staff working together in Dar es Salaam for a year, an alternative structural
adjustment programme was tortuously constructed. Anticipating later African debates, it called for much greater emphasis upon
supply-side expansion than demand-side restraint; much greater care over the distributional effects of required macroeconomic
adjustment (with conscious effort to maintain equity of sacrifice); and a more gradual programme for the implementation of
The effort failed, however, when neither the Government of Tanzania nor the IMF found the programme satisfactory.
(This is probably the appropriate point to recount another anecdote, one of my favourite Mwalimu stories.
Upon personally welcoming the agreed three-person team to Tanzania as it embarked on its task, the President
followed his initial niceties to the group, each of whom he knew, with the prescient introductory substantive comment: “You
know, gentlemen, I asked for money, not advice!” A more succinct statement of the problem of conditionality has probably
never been made.)
A major “sticking point” in the failure to agree on what was, for its time, a highly innovative
programme (as well as a potentially important model for IMF-member country dispute resolution), though not the only one, was
the Government’s (mistaken) reluctance sufficiently to devalue its currency. I am personally convinced that, like so
many laymen, Mwalimu did not understand the role of the exchange rate; some (not all) of his advisors gave him very bad advice.
As the Government went ahead on its own more and more donors (including now the World Bank) lost faith in Tanzanian
macroeconomic management, the economy spiralled further downward, corruption grew, and all-around confidence in the entire
Nyerere vision was lost.
The advent of Reagan-Thatcher influences on economic policy throughout the world and in the Bretton Woods institutions
(McNamara left the World Bank in 1981) furthered darkened external views of the Tanzanian situation.
The necessary policy turnaround - now in much more dire economic circumstances, and with both much more external
policy leverage and, significantly, a degree of non-governmental (mainly university) technical influence - finally began in
1986, after Nyerere’s
When the turnaround came, except for exchange rate action, which, by its nature, had to come more swiftly (in effect,
it began with the “own funds” import programme in 1984), it came fairly gradually and slowly. By the mid-1990s, the economy had
significantly recovered and donors had returned. Remarkably, political stability had been a constant.
By this time, however, Tanzania was in trouble over other issues. Corruption had reached the highest levels
of the Government and party (attracting public criticism from, among others, the now-retired Mwalimu, who now also supported
competitive elections in a multi-party system); the central economic policymaking machinery was demoralized and in disarray;
and, partly in consequence, aid donors were almost totally “driving” such development efforts as were under way
(outside the private sector).
Economic growth was taking place but there was a notable absence of any public “vision”, such as had
characterized the Nyerere years, as to where the country was going and why. Economic policy was seen as dictated by the international
financial institutions and the aid donors. (For an account, see the Helleiner Report, Report of the Group of Independent Advisers on Development Cooperation Issues Between Tanzania and Its Aid Donors, Gerald K. Helleiner, Tony Killick, Nguyuru Lipumba, Benno J. Ndulu and Knud Erik Svendsen,
Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 1995.)
The Government of Benjamin Mkapa, newly elected in 1995, set out with the encouragement of some of the major
aid donors, to restore ownership of its own development programmes, fight corruption, and recreate a sense of vision of the
While much remains to be done, to a remarkable degree, it seems to me, it has been succeeding. It reached an
important agreement, in principle, with the aid donor community on appropriate aid relationships - and, again, while much
remains to be done, there can be no doubt that ownership of economic policy and programmes is returning to Tanzania.
The Government has prepared its own policy framework paper (PFP) and its own long-term vision statement (both
with non-governmental inputs), led its own public expenditure review (PER) and the new Tanzania Assistance Strategy (TAS),
and will now develop its own Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). Increasing (though still too small) proportions of aid
expenditure are flowing through (or at least reported in) the national budget as the central economic administration strengthens.
Tanzanian-led sectoral strategies and policies are being developed and implemented in health, roads and education.
Prime emphasis throughout these efforts is to address the principal problems of poverty and to do so under Tanzanian, not
donor, leadership. (More details on all this can be found in a paper prepared for the May 1999 meeting of the Consultative
Group for Tanzania: Gerry Helleiner, “Changing Aid Relationships in Tanzania, December 1997 through March 1999”,
Dar es Salaam, mimeo, 1999.)
One senior (and informed) World Bank official has remarked (to me privately) that, despite all the favourable
press on Uganda, Tanzania is actually about four years or more ahead of it in terms of truly nationally-owned (and thus sustainable)
economic policy for overall development. Tanzania may seem to move more slowly, he noted (and I agree), but it does so on
a firmer and more stable base.
This base was established, I would argue, in the time of Julius Nyerere - a politically unified country; shared
values as to equity in income distribution and political participation; and determination to develop and implement one’s
own policies and programmes.
Because Tanzania now has in place all of the key elements for sustained development - macroeconomic stability;
broadly sensible incentive structures; broad political participation and stability; growing national self-confidence, ownership
and capacity - I believe it is likely that, barring calamities of weather or the terms of trade, Tanzania will soon be everyone’s
favourite African “success story” (and model).
It is now “conventional wisdom” in Washington (even in the IMF, at least in terms of its rhetoric)
and in donor capitals that poverty needs to be addressed as a matter of highest priority; that political stability and good
governance (notably reduced corruption) are prerequisites for development; and that national ownership of programmes is critical
to their success.
It has taken them a long time to reach these positions. But Julius Nyerere was espousing them and trying to
build practice upon them 30 years ago. His slogan of “socialism and self-reliance”, if transmitted today as “equity,
honesty and ownership”, would win universal assent. He was decades ahead of his time in these matters.
Today’s key Tanzanian policymakers - both politicians and technocrats - grew up and were educated in the
Nyerere years. They have undoubtedly learned from earlier economic and other policy mistakes. (Mwalimu was himself a learner
and pragmatist, who often changed policy positions when the evidence as to the failure of previous approaches seemed clear.)
I believe that the respect, which Mwalimu enjoyed in his own country right up until his death indicates that they
also retained much that Mwalimu had taught. They now can build “humane governance” on the political and value
base he constructed. (The apt concept of “humane governance” has recently been developed to encompass sound and
equitable economic and
political governance, including responsive and participatory institutions, respect for human rights, and special provision
for the most needy and most vulnerable. See Human Development in South
Asia, 1999, Mahbub ul Haq, The Human Development Centre and Oxford
University Press, Pakistan, 1999.)
Whatever his other mistakes in the realm of economics, in one area of economic policy Mwalimu was dead right
- and, again, ahead of his time.
Both in his anguished cry about the IMF in 1981 and in his subsequent work in the South Commission and the South
Centre, he steadily maintained the need for fairer international (or global) systems of economic governance, particularly
in the financial sphere. It is important to underline his consistent emphasis upon equity in global economic governance arrangements because
there is every sign that current reform efforts in the international financial arena are overly focussed upon efficiency considerations
and the avoidance or minimization of the effects of systemic crises.
This focus has resulted in some effort to incorporate some of the interests and concerns of the newly emerging
countries and the largest of the poor countries and this certainly constitutes important progress in global economic and financial
governance; but it leaves out the poorest and weakest. The latter are unrepresented - either in the new Financial Stability
Forum or in the even newer Group of Twenty (G20), chaired by the Canadian Finance Minister. (The G20 has also contrived to
exclude all of the so-called “like-minded” countries, who might be expected to take a deeper interest in the problems
of the poorest countries and peoples, as they have done in the past on debt relief and other issues.)
Nyerere’s activities in the international/global sphere included efforts to bolster analysis, both economic
and political, to inform those who speak for the developing countries, especially the poorest among them, in international
negotiations and organizations. The developing countries are still woefully weakly equipped to deal with the batteries of
well-funded economists, lawyers and lobbyists who defend Northern interests in international discussions and the media.
He was among those who saw, far ahead of others, that there is ultimately no substitute for one’s own
technical, professional and institutional strength. Today it is known as “capacity building”, and it has entered
“conventional wisdom” as to what is to be done not only in Africa but throughout the developing world.
Yes, Julius Nyerere made some economic policy mistakes. In this he was certainly not alone. He also left a country
capable of learning from its experience with a minimum of political ruckus, a country now moving forward economically on a
firm political and value base. That is a significant legacy.
At the international level the fruits of his efforts are probably more distant. I expect, however, that one
day they too will come.
Godfrey Mwakikagile, Tanzania under Mwalimu Nyerere: Reflections on an African