THE ARUSHA DECLARATION
Date: February 5, 1967
Place: Arusha, Tanzania
Basic elements: – The TANU Creed,
– The Policy of Socialism;
– The Policy of Self-Reliance;
– TANU Membership;
– The Leadership Code.
Described at the time as: A textbook model of Third World development, one of the most coherent and constructive documents to have emerged in Africa so far – Los Angeles Times.
Actions which followed and are associated with it: Nationalisation of the “commanding heights” of the economy – the Banks, insurance companies and much of estate agriculture.
Tanzania has been celebrating. A Shs 1,2 million Heroes Monument has been unveiled in Dodoma. The Tanzanian flag has been hoisted by youths on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Other groups of young people have been walking and cycling from all over Tanzania to Dodoma to join in the celebrations. Potholes have been filled in on roads, buildings have been painted. There was music and dancing.
But there has also been a great deal of reflection. The occasion? The 20th Anniversary of the Arusha Declaration and the tenth Anniversary of the CCM Party.
It is a cliche to say that Tanzania is at a crossroads but everything seems to indicate that that is just where Tanzania is. And one of the most encouraging things about Tanzania today is the degree of freedom with which everyone joins in the discussion about the best direction for Tanzania in the future.
The celebrations, or, more correctly, the reflections began in December 1986 when, as reported in Bulletin No 26, President Mwinyi opened an International Conference on the Arusha Declaration in Arusha. He made a pragmatic speech, as is his custom, and began by saying that Tanzanians always knew that building socialism in a society with inherited capitalist and feudalistic tendencies would be a long process. “It is for this reason” he said, “that no time frame was established for the implementation of the Arusha Declaration. It is not surprising therefore,” he said, “that today, almost twenty years after the adoption of the Declaration, Tanzania is neither socialist nor self-reliant.”
He went on “but the process of building socialism and self-reliance has begun. It is also a fact that the foundation for further progress towards our cherished goal has already been firmly laid down. Remarkable and positive change has taken place in Tanzania since the adoption of the Arusha Declaration.
“The most fundamental principle of our socialist policy is equality among all citizens …. equality means equal access to basic social services. It also means equality in decision making on matters of interest and importance to society. It means, above all, equality in personal incomes.
“The results of our efforts to give reality to the principle of human equality are most visible in the field of education, By providing free education Tanzania has made remarkable achievements in the struggle against one of our enemies, ignorance. At the time of independence in 1961 only 486,000 children went to primary school. Today 3.7 million go. In 1961 only 11,832 pupils were enrolled in public secondary schools. In 1984 40,617 were enrolled. At independence we had one University College with only 14 students. Today we have two full universities – Dar es Salaam with 3,970 students and the Sokoine University with approaching 500 students.
“Great achievements have also been made in the field of health. By providing free medical services, the Government has ensured that no Tanzanian dies of disease because of lack of money to pay for medical care.
“The number of hospitals has increased from 98 at Independence to 149 today. The number of dispensaries has increased from 978 to more than 2,600: At the time of Independence there were only 12 Tanzanian doctors for a population of more than ten million people. The equivalent of one doctor far over 830,000 people. Now there are about 800 doctors which is equivalent to one doctor far 26,000 people. The achievements made in the field of health are clearly reflected in the quality of life. For example, infant mortality rate has fallen from 225 babies for every 1,000 children born to 137. People live longer. Life expectancy is now 51 years. This is still low compared to more advanced societies but at independence it was only 35.
“The improvement in health services has been greatly enhanced by the provision of clean water to an increasing number of people, particularly in the rural areas. In 1961 only about 11% had access to clean water. Today it is estimated that over ten million people or just under 50% of the population have access to clean water within 400 meters of their homes.
“The policy of socialism has enabled us to prevent the growth of gross inequalities in incomes between Tanzanians. For example, in 1962 the ratio of urban personal income after tax was estimated to be 18.8 to 1. In 1966 the ratio was 15.7 to 1. In 1984 the ratio was 4.9 to 1. This progress towards equality in personal incomes has been made possible through deliberate fiscal, monetary and income policies. These policies have helped us to prevent the growth of a class society”.
The debate began at the International Conference and continued in the press and in public forums from then until the celebrations began early in February 1987. It will continue in the future as the Central Committee of the NEC began planning a further workshop on the Arusha Declaration while the celebrations were still underway.
The debate was not confined to Tanzania. Haroub Othman, writing in ‘The Observer’ looked at what he described as the “unfulfilled promise” of the Arusha Declaration. “One of its major weaknesses was its failure to provide an analysis of the Tanzanian class system; the struggle for independence and democracy and that for socialism was not addressed” he wrote. After listing some of the remarkable achievements of Tanzania especially in the social services he pointed to some of the serious policy errors that had been made, particularly in the economic sphere. “Agricultural investment has been abysmally low; less than 15%; state farms have consequently ground to a halt while the peasant farmer struggles to fend for himself, his only contact with the Government being through the various taxation mechanisms necessary to prop up bureaucracies in marketing boards.
“Agricultural production is not just stagnant: it is showing a downward curve. Tanzania now has to depend on food aid, of necessity with political strings. The performance in industry has not been much better – most industries are working at about 30% capacity if they are not shut ,down. Indiscipline, inefficiency and corruption have become the norm.
“This sad economic state has led to the virtual death of one of the Arusha Declaration’s main pillars – the Leadership Code. This sets out the code of conduct for public leaders. It essentially sought to limit the accumulation of wealth by such leaders. But the galloping inflation and the low salaries have made a total mockery of the Code. What about the Party? Ah, the man in the street will tell you, the Party is supreme. It is also specified in the Declaration as the tool for building socialism. But the grass root branches are weak – no meetings, no membership dues, no ideological classes. Consequently the Party has to be heavily subsidised by the Government, From Shs 11,124,417 in 1973/74 (39.3% of the Party’s total budget) to Shs 384,014,700 in 1984/85 (92.5% of the Party’s budget). The question is supreme to whom?”
‘Africa Now’ in the cover story of its February 1987 issue focussed on implementation of the villagisation policy. “While the villagisation policy was undoubtedly good. it was the manner with which Party and Government officials went about implementing it that exposed it to grave criticism from which it was to suffer for years to come. It was clear that the people who were handpicked to spearhead the implementation of the programme knew very little or absolutely nothing about what they were being asked to undertake, treating it more as a military style operation than as a project that might take a lifetime to accomplish ….. The failure of the overall supervising authority to discover in time what had gone wrong and to institute remedial measures was another factor which led to unfortunate results. Indeed, it was not until the second part of the decade that calls for ‘de-urbanisation’ of the ujamaa villages, so as to allow more room for agricultural undertakings, began to be voiced. But the damage had already been done”.
The article went on on the subject of the Leadership Code. “A committee was set up for the Code’s enforcement and to investigate alleged violations of it. But, over a period, it is apparent that the committee has failed in its purpose and lacks both the eyes with which to see the violations of the Code and the teeth with which to punish the miscreants”.
The Tanzanian News Agency (Shihata) in one of a series of articles during the celebrations took a strongly positive position: “The Declaration is a great document, a towering masterpiece to have emerged in Africa; it is almost a revelation, It drew acclaim from all over the world and amassed a wealth of prestige and respect for Tanzania – then and now, only a poor Third World African nation. To belittle the spirit of the document, therefore, is to despise oneself; to demand its removal is to betray the Tanzanian masses who agonised with it through its formation. To dislike it indicates a moral turpitude of self-aggrandisement and self centredness in the true spirit of the bourgeois mentality”.
At a rather lower level of rhetoric, Shihata produced a number of articles on specific aspects of the Declaration and its aftermath, For example, on the subject of the banks it wrote “the banks, most of which were foreign owned, withdrew skilled and experienced personnel in the vain hope of disrupting their operations and making the country’s financial transactions come to a standstill. But, far from wrecking the banks and slowing down economic development, the banks operated more efficiently, expanding their activities and realised more profits. The National Bank of Commerce is today giving better service to the people of Tanzania than the private banks did. The Bank now has 150 branches in the whole country compared to 41 at the time of nationalisation. ]n 1984/85 it declared a dividend of Shs 40 million”
Daily News staff writer Halima Shariff also pointed to one of the more positive elements… Tanzania today is more self-reliant in terms of indigenous experts manning various sectors of production and adopting her own development policies”. But, in a well balanced article he thought it appropriate to mention also the recent report of the Auditor General. The report had said that the Government had suffered a Shs 52,688 million loss in cash and stores in 1984/85 in 18 ministries and departments and in 14 regions. People had been apathetic about prompt accounting. He went on to welcome the Shs 120 billion Economic Recovery Programme launched in June 1986 and the allocation of between 30 and 40 per cent of annual development budgets to agriculture. He went on “we need to be more action oriented and do what we have to do today, not tomorrow”
Some cutting comments came from a reader of the Daily News who signed himself “Socialist” – “As I understand it, socialism is an attitude of mind; it cannot be acquired by one’s ability to propound Marxist and Leninist philosophies alone. It could be acquired by a person who believes in justice and liberty – one who hates poverty, oppression and war. Any person who has a belief in that should count himself a socialist, I believe that socialists are made from their beliefs and nothing more.
“Most of the people in our country, though of such beliefs, are scared out of socialism because of what those persons who call themselves Socialist are doing. Look around you, you may not fail to spot a person who exploits and oppresses his fellow human beings. One wonders as to whether they truly understand what they talk about when they call themselves socialists.
“It is high time the socialists, if there are any, put their own houses in order to attract other members to their fold. It is my contention that a mere lecturing of a person for three months and then give him a card does not make him a socialist.
“The Arusha Declaration is said to be a blueprint of socialist construction in Tanzania. Are we more socialist now than we were in 1967? Have the anti-socialist attitudes we had then changed? Are we not now more capitalist minded than we were in 1967? Look at our youths. What are they doing? Look at our firms. How are they managed? Look at our workers. Look at our peasants. Look at our offices. And, finally, look at our Party.
“Since we have said that socialism is an attitude of mind, it is not difficult for any person who understands socialism and who is honest with himself to judge the extent of our success in building socialism in this country since 1967”
Self – Reliance.
Meanwhile back in this country, the article by Haroub Othman in the “Guardian”, referred to above, had brought a response from one of its readers. Christine Lawrence in a letter to the Editor referred to part of his article in which he had said that the forthcoming Party Congress in October would be the last hope for socialists in Tanzania. She went on to write that: Socialist in his sense seems to imply a limited concept allied to a Western/Marxist stereotype of a socialist state. Whatever comes out of the next Party Congress will be a Tanzanian variety of socialism, and this is as it should be.
“Self-reliance is certainly not dead. As you know, the majority of people in Tanzania live in rural areas. In spite of great difficulties over the years, they have continued to be self-reliant. These are the people who elect the Government, upon whom the economy depends and for whom the Party must speak most loudly.
“As regards the “aggressive policy of seeking aid” what can a poor country do except stand on its own feet and shout? They certainly stood out a long time against the IMF terms and in so doing gave encouragement to other nations in similar dire straits. To say that this policy is not self-reliant is quite mistaken.
“Haroub Othman rightly points out that there have been some achievements in the years since the Arusha Declaration. If the time has now come to revise the Arusha Declaration, should we not regard this as a sign of growth and development?”
The Guardian printed this letter under the heading “Stand up for Self-Reliance.” And that is exactly what Mwalimu Nyerere did in his speech at the climax of the celebrations on 5th February 1987 in Dodoma. The speech occupies 32 pages; in the extracts which follow we have tried to give the main gist of the first part of this important speech. The remainder will be covered in issue No. 28. David Brewin