RULING PARTIES IN TANZANIA

Constitutions are not exactly bedtime reading, nor the internal histories of political parties notable for their news value. But the amalgamation of the Tanganyika African National Union with Zanzibar’s Afro-Shirazi Party on 31st January, 1977, to form a new unified party called the Chama’ cha Mapinduzi (Society of the Revolution) was an occasion of unusual interest and importance. A short account of the origins and development of the two contributory parties and of the significance of unification may therefore be of value.

The TANU party was formed at the annual conference of the Tanganyika African Association held in Dar es Salaam on 7th July, 1954. In large measure it was the Association under a different name. Julius Nyerere had become president of the Association in the previous year soon after his return from Edinburgh. The change, however, reflected an altered emphasis from an organisation which Nyerere called ‘semi-social and semi-political’ to a body with avowedly political aims, of which the principal goal was the achievement of independence for Tanganyika.

Since the Second World War, TANU had aimed at acquiring a mass following, but for long its support came mainly from the urban centres. Efforts were, however, afoot to extend its influence more widely in rural Tanganyika, where 95% of the people lived, and by 1954 some ‘ success in broadening the popular basis of support had been achieved, particularly in Sukumaland. This trend was now greatly reinforced by TANU under the new leaders, who aimed at creating a single political organisation uniting all Tanganyikans in the campaign for independence, forming an efficient machine for the pursuit of this aim and providing the leadership necessary for the assumption of power when the colonial government withdrew.

Prior to independence, the overwhelming preoccupation was with ‘uhuru’, even though under Nyerere’s leadership some early consideration was given to some of the problems likely to face an independent government. Nevertheless, the agenda changed fundamentally after independence day on 11th December, 1961. The independence party suddenly became the party of the government and the simple aim of ‘uhuru’ gave place to a multiplicity of objects proper to its new responsibilities.

From the first elections to the Legislative Council in 1958, TANU has been virtually the unique representative of the African population both at the centre and in local government. On 14th January, 1960, this de facto position culminated in a decision of the National Executive of TANU that Tanganyika should become a democratic One-Party state and a Commission was appointed by President Nyerere to consider the changes in the constitution of the country and of TANU that were necessary to give effect to this decision, with the Hon. Rashidi Kawawa as chairman and A.S. Nsekela, the present Tanzanian High Commissioner in London, as Secretary. The report was signed on 22nd March, 1965, and its recommendations formed the basis of the Interim Constitution of Tanzania, 1965, following the union with Zanzibar.

Section 3(1) of the Interim Constitution provided that “There shall be one political party in Tanzania” and section 3(2) ordained that until they were united to form a single party, TANU should be the one party for Tanganyika and the Afro-Shirazi Party the one party for Zanzibar. It was, however, assumed that the eventual union of the two parties was to be expected in due course. The new legal status of TANU under the Interim Constitution was further established by the incorporation of a revised constitution for TANU as a Schedule to the Constitution.

This constitution, which opened membership of TANU to all citizens of whatever race who accepted the beliefs, aims and objects of TANU and were over 18, incorporated the ‘national ethic’ suggested by Julius Nyerere to the Presidential Commission on the Establishment of a Democratic One-Party state as matters of TANU belief. The preamble emphasises the equality of all human beings and their right to dignity and self-respect. Rights of citizens extended to participation in government at all levels, freedom of expression, of movement, of religious belief and of association within the law, protection of life and property and receipt of a just return for labour. Natural resources were to be a common possession held in trust for posterity. To establish economic justice, the State must control the principal means of production and must intervene in economic life to assure the wellbeing of all citizens, to prevent exploitation and to prevent the accumulation of wealth to an extent inconsistent with the ideal of a classless society. Arising out of these beliefs, there followed the aims and objects of TANU. Eight out of twelve of these aims enjoined upon the Government duties in respect of the elimination of poverty, ignorance and disease, giving equal opportunity to all men and women irrespective of race, religion, or status, eradicating exploitation, intimidation, discrimination, bribery and corruption, participating in economic life, controlling the principle means of production and assisting in the formation of cooperative organizations. TANU was to see that the Government worked tirelessly for peace and security through the United Nations and cooperated with other African states to bring about unity. TANU was to safeguard individual dignity in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Under the Republican Constitution of 1962, Parliament exercised supreme responsibility on Westminster lines, with TANU functioning as the party of government. From 1963 onwards, however, a gradual change took place in the relative functions of TANU and the National Assembly, culminating in the assumption by TANU of the role of supreme policy maker and leaving parliament with the functions of legislator and the responsibility for ,the authorisation of expenditure from public funds. This transition has been described in a fascinating expose by Pius Msekwa, the present National Executive Secretary of Chama cha Mapinduzi. The decision to introduce democratic one-party government appears to have been taken by the National Executive Committee of TANU and the subject was not introduced into parliament until the debate on the Interim Constitution, which embodied this principle. But from the time when the new Constitution came into force TANU had gained a prescriptive right and duty to supervise government, a role that was increasingly interpreted as including the responsibility for the initiation of major new departures of policy. Thus, the Arusha Declaration, the Decentralization of Government, the Second Five Year Plan, the transfer of the capital to Dodoma, the accelerated implementation of the policy of Universal Primary Education and the interposition of a work period prior to University entry were policies established by the National Executive and only subsequently brought before parliament where legislation was needed. Policies such as the abolition of local government as previously organised, the adoption of rents for government housing based on a per cent of salary and restrictions on the import of Cars to save foreign exchange were also first promulgated by the National Executive Committee.

The new role of TANU has been expressed by President Nyerere in the following words:

“… under one-party constitution, TANU is supreme. It is able to give directions to government about the general policy which must be adopted for national development and it has power to give specific instructions about priorities of action in any aspect of our national life. Further, TANU can call the Cabinet, any Minister, or any government official, to account for their activities and any failures in the execution of their duty. That is at national level. The same is true at local level.”

On the other side of the coin, TANU has become the channel through which people are encouraged to participate in government from the level of the cell of ten houses and the village TANU branch to the National Conference. Parliament, by contrast, though based on a universal franchise, exercises technical functions less immediately intelligible to the man in the street. A complex system of TANU committees at five different levels provides a series of forums in which citizens can become actively involved in the making of policy and the taking of decisions that affect their own lives.

In its quasi-governmental role, the National Executive Committee was given access to government information and the services of civil servants, from whom it could ask for papers. It could also exercise a power to subpoena witnesses and require the production of documents (Act no.49 of 1965). Members of the National Executive not already members of parliament were paid the same salaries as members of parliament and thus acquired a similar status. Two top civil servants, the attorney-general and the principal secretary to the President’s office, were made ex officio non-voting members of the National Executive. In these various ways the National Executive Committee acquired the administrative powers and facilities necessary to enable it to take responsible decisions on matters of high policy.

The Afro-Shirazi Party of Zanzibar, like TANU, was originally formed from previous groupings, the African Association and the Shirazi Association of Zanzibar. At first these two bodies retained their identities within an Afro-Shirazi Union, presided over by Sheikh Abeid Karume, with Sheikh Thabit Kombo as Secretary. After the election of 1957, the two associations merged to form the Afro-Shirazi Party, except in Pemba, where the African Association for a time continued a separate existence and later merged with another grouping, the Zanzibar and Pemba Peoples Party, forming in 1961 an electoral union with the Arab dominated Zanzibar Nationalist Party.

In the elections of 1961 and 1963 the Afro-Shirazi Party obtained an absolute majority of votes of 1,037 and 13,536 respectively, but failed on both occasions to win power owing to a grossly unfair distribution of population by constituencies. Independence on 10th Dec. 1963, thus saw the installation of a minority coalition under predominantly Arab influence (‘Uhuru wa Waarabu’ as the occasion was commonly called). This ruling coalition started to suppress opposition and on 12th January, 1964, the Zanzibar Revolution broke out.

Following the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar on 26th April, 1964, four Zanzibaris were added to the Presidential Commission on the Establishment of a Democratic One-Party State. The Interim Constitution of Tanzania was passed by the National Assembly on 5th July, 1965, providing, as already stated, for the Afro-Shirazi Party to become the sole party of Zanzibar and Pemba and awarding up to a quarter of the seats in the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic to Zanzibar representatives, a number greatly in excess of the number justified purely on population grounds.

The Constitution of the Afro-Shirazi Party, adopted at the sixth annual conference held at Mbweni in Zanzibar from 18th to 29th November, 1975, followed in broad outline the plan adopted by the TANU Constitution, though with a much greater emphasis on revolutionary objectives. This is readily understood if one remembers the contrasting political histories of the islands and the mainland. In Tanganyika, the course of political revolution was deeply influenced by the early emergence of TANU as by far the most important single element in the political spectrum, with Julius Nyerere as its leader, the smooth transition to political independence under Sir Richard Turnbull, the last Governor under the Mandate, and the continuing service of some outstanding British civil servants during the first year or two of independence. In Zanzibar, on the other hand, relatively recent memories of African slavery, the frustrations and humiliations of political domination by a racial minority and gross social and economic inequalities combined to create the explosive situation which finally erupted in the Revolution.

We read, therefore, that the aims of the Afro-Shirazi Party were not only to build ‘ujamaa’ on a foundation of self-reliance and to pledge friendship with all men on a basis of human equality, but also to continue the revolution by promoting equality among the people of Zanzibar and by fighting colonialism, neo-colonialism, exploitation, parasitism and distinctions based on religion, colour, or any other cause. The Constitution looked to cooperation with revolutionaries to promote world peace; but, unlike TANU the Afro-Shirazi Party was not committed to respect the standards in the Universal DeclL1ration of Human Rights, nor to seek peace and security through the United Nations.

All these provisions were understandable in the psychological situation which prevailed in Zanzibar after the Revolution and after the tribulations and conflicts of the recent past. The Union Constitution of July, 1965, indeed foresaw an eventual union of ASP with TANU, but the immediate progress of events in Zanzibar after the Revolution seemed to render such coalescence increasingly unlikely. But the aim was never lost to sight. After the succession of Sheikh Aboud Jumbe to the Presidency of Zanzibar and the First Vice-Presidency of the Union, links between Zanzibar and the mainland Were quietly and progressively forged. Zanzibar students started to come to the University of Dar es Salaam. Regular working contacts were made between Government departments on both sides of the water. The Council of the University of Dar es Salaam met on one occasion in Zanzibar.

On 21st January, 1977, a joint National Conference of TANU and ASP was held in Dar es Salaam and passed unanimously a resolution dissolving TANU and ASP on 5th February, 1977, and establishing a single party, to be called Chama cha Mapinduzi, to have “supreme constitutional power over all state organs”. This event constituted a remarkable achievement on the part of the leaders concerned, especially Julius Nyerere and Sheikh Aboud Jumbe. The Union of the parties was a preluc1e to, and was quickly followed by, the adoption of a permanent Constitution for the United Republic.

This Constitution, now in force, incorporates in the preamble a statement of fundamental beliefs primarily based on those of TANU. There follows an admonition on every citizen to respect the persons and rights of others; to protect and obey the laws of the country; to ensure that the country’s wealth is preserved and devoted to the common good and not used for the exploitation of others; to ensure to all able-bodied men the right to work for the fulfilment of human needs; and to respect all people in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Constitution also calls on every citizen to see that the government and parastatal organisations guarantee equal opportunities to all irrespective of sex, colour, tribe, religion, or any other condition; to ensure that no-one is subjected to unjust treatment, threats, segregation, bribery, oppression or favouritism; to secure that the use of the nation’s wealth is devoted to the progress of its citizens and especially to the abolition of poverty, ignorance and disease; and to see that the government controls the main regulators of the economy and is founded on democracy and ujamaa. Everyone is to regard work as a true measure of maturity.

The Constitution then goes on to assert that Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) is the sole political organisation in Tanzania and bears ultimate responsibility for all matters as set out in its constitution. All political affairs and all matters concerning national organisations in Tanzania are to be conducted by CCM, or under its leadership and supervision. Finally, all regulations arising from the Constitution are to be implemented at all times with an eye to the foregoing responsibilities of CCM.

The constitution of CCM establishes three matters of fundamental belief, namely, that all human beings are equal, that every individual has a right to dignity and respect as a human being and that socialism and self-reliance provide the only way to build a society of free and equal citizens. These articles of faith express in a succinct manner the ethos of modern Tanzania. The first two summarise the Tanzanian’s ultimate reply to the defective relationships formerly experienced under colonialism, while the third contains the political philosophy of Tanzania and implies a rejection of systems which allow scope for greed, self-seeking and exploitation. There follow 19 aims and objects for CCM, which follow in general the aims of TANU, with the inclusion of reference to the leadership and guidance of CCM in all public affairs and the continuation of the ideas of the founders of TANU and ASP. The revolutionary terminology of the ASP constitution, save in the name CCM, is noticeably absent.

Like TANU and ASP the CCM is pyramidal in structure. The supreme organ is the National Conference, comprising all members of parliament (maximum number 229) and of the Zanzibar Revolutionary Council, all District chairmen (96) and secretaries (96), members of the National Executive ex officio (maximum number 154), representatives by Region of the affiliated ‘mass organisations’ (100) (the Youth Organisation, the Union of Tanzania Women – UWT, the Union of Tanzania Workers – NUTA, the Union of Cooperative Societies – MVU, and the Tanzania Parents Association – TPA) and ten members elected by each District Conference. Since, however, the National Conference comprises over 700 members and is normally required to meet only once in five years, the real power of the Party rests in the National Executive Committee.

This body, of up to 154 members, comprises the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Party (President Nyerere and Vice-President Jumbe), members elected by the National Conference from each Region of the Mainland and of Zanzibar (50), the members of the Central Committee (up to 42), all Regional chairmen (25) and secretaries (25) and all chairmen and secretaries of the affiliated mass organisations (10). Meetings are to be held at least every six months. Decisions are reached by a majority of members present and voting, except in matters affecting the structure of the government of the United Republic, or of Zanzibar, or the relation between them, which require a two thirds majority both of mainland members and of Zanzibar members. For day to day administration there is a Central Committee, with standing committees on Defence and Security, Development Planning, Party Activities and the supervision of public institutions. This body has 42 members comprising the national chairman and vice-chairman, 30 members elected by the National Executive Committee and 10 members nominated by the Chairman.

There are Regional and District Conferences, Executive Committees and Working Committees. Below them come the Branches and below them again the Cell, described as the primary organ of the Party. Cell leaders and Branch, District and Regional Chairmen are all elected by the cell members and the Branch, District and Regional Conferences respectively, as are also the majority of members of the Executive Committees at Branch, District and Regional level. The Executive Committees also include any Conference members of the next higher level of administration living within the area concerned and also representatives of mass organisations working in the area. The only unrepresentative member is the Branch, District, or Regional Secretary, who is appointed by the Central Committee. In a country in which administration is an unfamiliar art, it seems reasonable that a central body should as far as possible ensure acceptable standards.

In a one-party state, in which the party exercises supreme policymaking functions, it is of importance to know whether the party is itself a democratic organ and not an instrument of dictatorship by an oligarchy. The brief description here given of the structure of CCM and the manner of appointment at various levels can leave little doubt that it is indeed studiously democratic in intention and in organisation. It is certainly true that the central organ of the Party, from which important policy decisions emanate, rest upon a rather complex system of appointment. But its pyramidal structure is undoubtedly designed to integrate the will of the people with the know-how of the relatively small number of educated people in responsible positions. At cell and village branch levels, the representation of the people is simple and direct, and it is at these levels that most decisions are taken which concern their day to clay lives. At District level, the representation is based on branches rather than individuals, while Regional Conference members residing in the District and the Constituency Member of Parliament are brought in from above to provide a link with the higher levels and to invoke the wider experience and perspective that they can command, while the mass organisations are also present to keep the District Conference in close touch with their specialised functions. And so it is also at Regional and National level.

To base government on the will of the people is not easily achieved in a country with such great differences of education, knowledge and experience, and it is an error to assume that a simple franchise will achieve this end. The system adopted by CCCM, based on the experience of TANU is one in which the most direct participation occurs in relation to those areas of activity closest to and best understood by the people, while an indirect system of representation is employed to deal with Regional or National issues whose complexity, importance and possible ramifications call for the participation of people of experience and knowledge with a wide-ranging responsibility. It is not, perhaps, the only system of which one can conceive for bringing the will of the people to bear on the affairs of state. But it is certainly an arrangement with real possibilities of success and worthy to be classed among the democratic experiments of our times.

Roger Carter

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