THE EARLY DAYS OF THE KNCU.
On page 33 of the May Bulletin there was a quotation to the effect that Africans started and ran their own cooperative union ” … right under the nose of the colonial master” .
I would like to remind the correspondent concerned that the cooperative idea started in Britain (Rochdale in 1844); that the Kilimanjaro Native Planters Association, as the Union of Chagga coffee planters was originally known, was founded shortly after World War I at the instigation of a British administrator, Mr. (later Sir Charles) Dundas; and that it was very ably managed until the 1950’s by Mr. A. L. B. Bennett encouraged by the Department of Cooperative Development.
TANGA YACHT CLUB
I have been asked to write a short history of the Tanga Yacht Club. I believe that some of your readers have enjoyed many hours sailing under the auspices of the Club. I would be very grateful therefore if some of these former members would drop me a line describing any interesting experiences that they have had over the years preferably with the approximate date. Just the year would be fine. I would like particularly to be in touch with former office Holders.
PO Box 299,
In Bulletin No. 30 you printed a letter from a reader of African Concord under the title ‘Is Tanzania So Special?’ In it the reader points the finger at developed countries and corrupt leaders. His or her statement ‘some responsible people in Government are gay’ strikes me as very prejudiced. The sexual orientation of leaders does not mean they are corrupt. The Bulletin should not print material which contains this kind of prejudice particularly when the writer is trying to offset another kind of prejudice ie: that against Black people. In future I hope you will exclude such material.
FROM NYERERE TO NEO-CLASSICISM – A REPLY TO MICHAEL HODD
The article “From Nyerere to Neo-Classicism” by Michael Hodd (Bulletin No.30) can be regarded as a continuation of a campaign initiated at a conference in “Tanzania after Nyerere” he organised at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London in June 1986. Anybody reading the Hodd article or some of the conference papers cannot help noticing some half truths and untruths aimed at discrediting (not constructively criticising) Julius Nyerere, both as a statesman of undisputed integrity and commitment to the welfare of his people and as an intellectual. Let me hasten to add here that these qualities do not make Nyerere infallible.
Nobody is more aware of the mistakes and failures of some of the Party and Government policies during his rule than Nyerere himself; one has just to refer to his four-hour keynote speech to the 1982 CCM National Conference for the relevant evidence. Most of the changes, which are now being credited to the Mwinyi Government, were initiated by Nyerere and his colleagues during the period 1982-85. These include the upgrading of the role of the private sector in the national economy, reintroduction of the secondary cooperatives and local government institutions hence consolidating the decentralisation programme of 1972 and people’s power to manage their own affairs), trade liberalisation and deconfinement of capital and consumer goods, etc. This is not to belittle the august efforts being undertaken by the Mwinyi Government since its assumption of power in November 1985, but Only to document the roots of the current changes taking place in the country, at least for those who care for the truth and an intellectually stimulating debate.
The crucial point here is the fact that there is more continuity in these processes than the reversal of the main body of policies as Michael Hodd is attempting to tell us. At a recent meeting with Tanzanians living or studying in the U.K. in London, President Mwinyi said as much when replying to a question why his government came to the agreement with the IMF more quickly than his predecessor’s. Sheikh Mwinyi not only said that Tanzania had to agree because it could not stand any more ‘arm-twisting’ by the IMF, etc, but also that his Government started from where the Nyerere Government had left off, implying continuity. More importantly for the Tanzanian Left, the IMF’s conditions did not include the dismantling of the parastatals sector to make way for privatisation (which is held as sacrosanct by the neo-classicists) and wage-freezing, pillars of Reagonomics and Thatcherism. There are many people in Tanzania and in the U.K. who do not accept that these are the best solutions to our country’s problems even if they are success stories in the U.K. and the U.S.A. notwithstanding the fact that there are many people sleeping in the streets of London and Washington D.C. At any rate, who has given the Reaganists and Thatcherites the right to impose their own view of the world on Tanzanians?
If the parastatal sector has been left to continue by the IMF and from superficial observation of the current Economic Recovery Programme, which is being supported by both the IMF and World Bank, not to mention some Western governments, can one really talk of a full-scale demolition of socialist institutions and an installation of a capitalist economy in Tanzania by President Mwinyi with the assistance of the IMF? …
At this juncture it is pertinent to quote in extensu from a book “The Development of Capitalism in Africa” by John Sender and Sheila Smith:
The intellectually influential advocates of ‘free’ market forces and a non-interventionist state ignore the overwhelming historical evidence concerning the central role of the state in all late-industrializing countries. One consequence of adherence to an anti-statist ideology is that the possibilities and opportunities for supporting much needed improvements in quality of the state initiatives have been forgone. Instead the attention of many economists has been focused on the degree to which the public sector pre-empts or ‘crowds out’ private entrepreneurship, on the quantity of state expenditure, rather than planned improvements in their quality. The prospects for accumulation, industrial growth and the maintenance of the capacity to import will be bleak if policy makers and those influencing their decisions in the most important international financial institutions continue to be persuaded of the evils of state intervention per se. The outlook will also be bleak if economists continue to pretend that an optimal allocation of investment resources can be achieved only by reference to the benchmark of a mythical, undistorted or perfectly competitive market.
Perhaps, it is necessary to state that what is being said here is not in defence of the Tanzanian parastatal sector per se, rather it is a recognition that it is an important premise for the development of the country if given a chance, including ridding it of bureaucratic inefficiencies, mismanagement, embezzlement, venality, undemocratic practices and procedures and non-responsiveness to popular demands and aspirations. There is no evidence to suggest that these ills in our society are inherently a product of its socialist policies. In fact, the evidence shows that these ills are increasing alarmingly. Some people are blaming this state of affairs and wild game poaching on cuts to earn increased incomes. I am afraid a man-eat-man society is fast in the making in Tanzania and all of us know the reason why it is so.
All this is part of Hodd’s “although the rich might get quite a bit richer, the poor will be better-off as well”, the same old story of the trickle-down theory. Efficacy of this theory has long been in serious doubt; it is not worthy of mention here. Nonetheless, one is tempted to ask what prevents trickling of wealth to the poor in developed countries in which a substantial number of their Citizenry have to resort to living and sleeping in the streets. Or is it true that the rich and yuppies capture all the benefits of Reaganomics and Thatcherism so that even the crumbs falling from their dining tables are hardly enough to offer a decent life to these street men and women? Individualism, which allows the murder of a pregnant woman in a motorway or the starving to death of a child because communal concern is considered as interference is subject to serious questioning by all those who value human life more than money. Romanticism apart, surely, some values of Tanzanian socialism are superior!
Finally, the point raised by Hodd “Western trained economists are now in senior positions in the key Ministries and in the University” is mind-boggling. Since when have positions in Tanzania’s key ministries and universities (incidentally Tanzania has two universities since 1984) been occupied by Eastern trained economists; Who are these people? Can Hodd produce a list? I hope it can be published in the next issue of this esteemed Bulletin? To my knowledge, there is only a handful of people who have been trained in Eastern Europe, in senior positions. Apart from the veteran Tanzanian Marxist and former Minister, Abdulrahman Mohammed Babu, who fell-out with the system many years ago because of his insistence that Tanzania adopt and implement appropriate socialist policies, there are the present Deputy Minister and Principal Secretary of Industries and Trade, the Director-General of the Muhimbili Medical Centre and the General Manager of the National Insurance Corporation. At the University of Dar es Salaam there is the Director of IDS and the Director of the Economic Research Bureau. At Sokoine University in Morogoro, there is nobody trained in Eastern Europe in a senior position.
Thus, any socialism or its semblance installed and still existing in Tanzania is the product of Western education and culture. That includes Julius Nyerere and the overwhelming majority of his colleagues in TANU or CCM and Government during the past two and a half decades. Even his economic advisers (Professors Justinian Rweyemamu (now late), Justin Maeda and Simon Mbilinyi) are products of Western education, all holders of PhD degrees from well known US universities. Whether they were committed socialists or free market adherents, I leave it to Michael Hodd to tell us, hopefully in the next issue of this Bulletin! In any case, there are very good socialists in the West as there are vaery ‘good’ capitalists in Eastern Europe. To be sure, a person’s Educational environment may have an influence on his/her political and economic views, but in the final analysis it is his/her personal decision to become a devout socialist or capitalist, the dichotomy between East and West notwithstanding.
If Hodd if trying to exonerate the West of responsibility for what has happened in Tanzania during the past 25 years, it is evident that he is doing it in a very bad and clumsy manner. I am sure there are many Tanzanians who could not care less one way or the other. These people’s concern is how we can move further along the socialist path, overcoming difficulties on the way, in order to achieve the ideals of human dignity, respect and equality. Admittedly, these may appear idealistic at this point in time, but they are worthy objectives to live and fight for. Tanzania’s problems are not insurmountable, Given appropriate policy interventions and political goodwill, there is a way to overcome and solve them and eventually succeed, It is important that all Tanzanians realise that in the final analysis it is their hard work and perseverance, coupled with appropriate policies, which will bring about development of our country, Any outside assistance is only catalytic to our endeavours to build a humane and just society,
Regarding people trained in Eastern Europe going to Western Europe and USA to study, it is not necessarily because they aspire to glorify Western educational and cultural values more than those of Eastern Europe. Many of them, especially those who returned home in the sixties, were subjected to ‘academic’ discrimination and humiliation, including evaluation of their degrees and diplomas, before they were finally ‘accepted’ as ‘educated’. As part of this ‘acceptance’ process, they had to ‘travel to the West for ‘brushing-up’, As a person, who was trained in the first instance in an Eastern European country, I should know! If I were a cynic, I should blame all this on Western academic (or capitalist?) arrogance which has been inculcated in the minds’ of my former classmates in school; they take it upon themselves to be both prosecutors and judges of my academic qualifications. Ironically, this discrimination is not practised in the U.K!
CURRENT PRICES (May 1988)
In response to the Goodchild’s letter in the last Bulletin I have obtained some details of current prices from my daughter who lives in Dar es Salaam.
Various staple foods ie rice, sugar and maize flour, have controlled prices but are not always available at these prices.
Current prices in shillings:
Eggs 15 each
Maize flour 20/kilo
Margarine 400/kilo tin
Fresh milk 40/litre
Beef Steak 200/kilo
Beef with bones 150/kilo
Petrol: Super 44/litre
Petrol: Regular 38/litre
Soap: Bar 20
Soap Powder 40/15oz
Minimum 1,200 per month. (Since increased)
Secondary School Teacher 3,000 – 5,000 per month
Manager 7,000 per month
The better jobs often carry perks ie: cheap housing and transport. Manufactured goods are now widely available in the shops but prices are very high. (Exchange rate is about Shs 175 to the £ Sterling – Editor)
THE STATE OF THE ROADS
When I last wrote to you I explained about the poor coverage given the Bulletin to the Tanzanian infrastructure and I was consequently pleased to see the recent article about the Transport and Communications Corporations.
My main infrastructural interest is in highways however which your article did not mention. I believe … that the highway system suffers from maintenance problems worse even than those of the railways.
When I lived in Tanganyika between 1950 and 1962 a pressing interest in the state of the roads was regularly displayed by much of the populace and I am sure the subject still grips the attention of many Tanzanian citizens. I am accordingly surprised that the highway system features so little in the extracts you publish.
I have the impression that the transportation by road of Zambian copper virtually destroyed the road system of Southern Tanzania and that the highways in much of the remainder of the country have been crippled by neglect. I should be very interested to learn whether my information is correct or not. Maintenance is tedious and thankless to carry out but there is very little point in capital investment in the absence of proper arrangements for maintaining the resulting capital stock.
THE COLONIAL ADMINISTRATION
I wonder how accurate is the picture of the Tanganyika Administration in 1938 taken from the report in the Tanganyika Herald at that time and reproduced in Bulletin No. 30. It would be interesting to know what reaction there was to the original article. I have read that, at times in the inter-war years, morale was low because of financial stringency, pay cuts and rumours that the territory would be handed back to the Germans but I very much doubt that it was generally so.
Certainly, Mr, Balfour’s view bears no resemblance to the Administration I knew throughout the 1950’s… Up country our hours were from either 7.30 or 8.00 am; to 4 or 4.30 pm and up to 12 noon on Saturdays – longer than has applied here in the UK for many years … a great many Colonial Service officers put in far more hours, I had to put in at least 50 hours per week to keep on top of the job and this was not very exceptional … Once, in a moment of weakness, I told a Greek settler that I thought pressure of work had increased over the years. He did not agree and related how, in the 1930’s, he had gone the 20 miles to Sumbawanga on his donkey arriving about 9pm and finding the District Commissioner still at work.
Since Independence I have visited districts where I once worked on several occasions and found my Tanzanian successors busily employed too. Some of them expressed surprise that we managed with se few staff …