PRESIDENT NYERERE’S SPEECH AT A DINNER GIVEN FOR DIPLOMATS ACCREDITED TO TANZANIA ON 1ST JANUARY 1980 IN DAR ES SALAAM
It is not my intention tonight to make a survey of the events of 1979. The war in which we were still engaged when we met together a year ago has fortunately ended. But Tanzanian troops are still in Uganda. Despite what our detractors say, they are not there as an Army of Occupation, but at the request of the Uganda Government. I could wish that those countries which criticise us for what we and Uganda regard as an act of Third World and neighbourly solidarity had been more forthcoming when the Ugandans made approaches for help with their defence problem. For it now appears that Amin’s victims are to be economically punished by those who claimed to welcome his fall, simply because, although both poor, Tanzania and Uganda are cooperating to deal with an obvious national security problem in a way which prevents Super-Power intervention. We continue to he1ieve that it would be irresponsible for us to withdraw all our troops from Uganda while a new Defence Force is being trained and while the Uganda Government requests us to stay.
One other event of 1979 which gives satisfaction to us is the end of hostilities in Rhodesia following the Agreement reached in London between the British and the Patriotic Front. We congratulate everyone concerned in reaching that agreement. But we congratulate in particular the Patriotic Front and the people of Zimbabwe for their achievement. For it is a regrettable fact, but nonetheless a fact, that it is the guerrilla war which forced on the minority rulers of Rhodesia this surrender of power and enabled the British to re-establish their authority.
The sincerity with which the Nationalists, and Africa, have been saying that they are fighting for a transfer of power and not for individual leaders must now be obvious to all. For a real transfer of power following free and fair elections is all that the Patriotic Front has insisted upon as the price of a Cease Fire. In all other respects they have accepted political and military conditions which are disadvantageous to them. So the Agreement has been signed. If it is carried out by all parties, it will lead to a transfer of power to the majority following upon the elections in February. And Tanzania will accept the result of those elections, provided only that they are judged free and fair by the group of Commonwealth Observers, and provided that South Africa does not interfere. We notice, however, that a spokesman for the White Minority has predicted a civil war if the Patriotic Front wins the elections. And we take note also of British and South African silence on that comment.
In Namibia, unfortunately, the same progress has not been made. South Africa is still being allowed to prevent peace and to maintain its domination over the country. The result can only be more violence. For Africa – including Tanzania – is committed to the struggle for Namibian freedom. If South Africa is permitted with impunity to continue its manoeuvres and its delays over the United Nations plan for the transfer of power to the people of Namibia, then we shall have no choice but to back up an intensified guerrilla war.
Your Excellencies; Tanzania needs peace – in Africa and elsewhere. But the major economic problems which have preoccupied us in recent months, and which darken the coming year, were not caused by the war against Amin’s Uganda, nor the African struggle for freedom. These make things worse; they added to the strain on our resources and deflected our attention at an important time. But we were experiencing inflation before October 1978; our balance of payments was in serious deficit before that war; oil price increases have nothing to do with events in East or Southern Africa.
These externally caused problems are obvious, and so is our need for an injection of balance of payments support. What recently became equally obvious to me, but nevertheless strange and repugnant, was the attempt by the I.M.F. to exploit those difficulties in order to interfere with the management of our economy.
The I.M.F. always lays down conditions for using any of its facilities. We therefore expected that there would be certain conditions imposed should we desire to use the I.M.F. Extended Fund Facility. But we expected these conditions to be non-ideological, and related to ensuring that money lent to us is not wasted, pocketed by political leaders or bureaucrats, used to build private villas at home or abroad, or deposited in private Swiss bank accounts. We also accepted that we could justly be asked how we were planning to deal with the problem in the medium or longer term. We could then have accepted or rejected such conditions; but we would not have felt it necessary to make a strong and public protest.
Tanzania is not prepared to devalue its currency just because this is a traditional free market solution to everything and regardless of the merits of our position. It is not prepared to surrender its right to restrict imports by measures designed to ensure that we import quinine rather than cosmetics, or buses rather than cars for the elite. My Government is not prepared to give up our national endeavour to provide primary education for every child, basic medicines and some clean water for all our people. Cuts may have to be made in our national expenditure, but we will decide whether they fall on public services or private expenditure. Nor are we prepared to deal with inflation and shortages by relying only on monetary policy regardless of its relative effect on the poorest and less poor. Our price control machinery may not be the most effective in the world, but we will not abandon price control; we will only strive to make it more efficient. And above all, we shall continue with our endeavours to build a socialist society.
When an international institution refuses us access to the international credit at its disposal except on condition that we surrender to it our policy determination, then we make no application for that credit. The choice is theirs – and ours. But such conditions do reinforce our convictions about the importance of the Third World demand for changes in the management structure of the I.M.F. It needs to be made really international, and really an instrument of all its members, rather than a device by which powerful economic forces in some rich countries increase their power over the poor nations of the world.
There was a time when a number of people were urging that all aid to the Third World Countries should be channelled through International institutions. They honestly believed that such institutions would be politically and ideologically neutral. I do not know whether there are now people who honestly believe that the I.M.F. is politically or ideologically neutral. It has an ideology of economic and social development which it is trying to impose on poor countries irrespective of their own clearly stated policies. And when we reject I.M.F. conditions we hear the threatening whisper: “Without accepting our conditions you will not get our money, and you will get no other money”. Indeed we have already heard hints from some quarters that money or credit will not he made available to us until we have reached an understanding with the I.M.F.
When did the I.M.F. become an International Ministry of Finance? When did nations agree to surrender to it their power of decision making?
Your Excellencies: It is this growing power of the I.M.F. and the irresponsible and arrogant way in which it is being wielded against the Poor that has forced me to use this opportunity to make these unusual remarks in a New Year Speech to you. The problems of my country and other Third World Countries are grave enough without the political interference of I.M.F. officials. If they cannot help at the very least they should stop meddling.
I have made it repeatedly clear to my own countrymen however, that whatever decisions are made by us, and by our friends, 1980 is going to be a very difficult year for Tanzania. I believe that when they understand the problem our people will respond to this economic challenge as they have responded to other challenges in the past. I believe they will bear the further sacrifices, and further burdens, which present conditions impose upon us just as long as they are assured that we are doing our best to share the burdens equitably and continuing to pursue our own policies.
Your Excellencies, despite these grim predictions about the immediate future I do sincerely wish you and your families a Very Happy New Year. I ask you all for your continued personal cooperation, sympathy and understanding as we enter 1980. I assure you that my government will, for its part, continue to work in friendship with you and your governments throughout the coming year.