Tanzania needed friends of the kind found in the Britain Tanzania Society more now than in the past because of the changing climate of opinion in the West about Africa said Mr John Malecela, Tanzania’s new High Commissioner in London speaking on April 11th 1990 at Commonwealth House. He was at a ceremony marking the handing over of a bust of former President Nyerere by the Society to the Commonwealth Trust which will display it on the ground floor of its Northumberland Avenue headquarters.
Mr Malecela quoted impressive statistics on advances in education and provision of health care in Tanzania since independence but indicated that from 1976 onwards things had become much more difficult as the Aid community – and particularly the IMF began to attach conditions to its assistance. Adult literacy had fallen from 86% to 76% as Tanzania had been forced to limit its spending on social services. He noted how Malawi had been recommended as an example of what Tanzania should have done. But Malawi was itself now facing very serious problems. Unlike many other developing countries Tanzania had been willing to ‘lift up the carpet and show the dirt underneath’.
He expressed concern at current ‘aid fatigue’ in the West and said that Africa wanted non-government organisations like the Britain Tanzania Society to speak out loud to combat the increasing attention being focussed by everyone on Eastern Europe. Eastern Europeans were ten or even a hundred times better off than Africans he said.
Asked by a member of the audience whether Tanzania did not need ‘glasnost’ as well as ‘perestroika’ Mr Malecela spoke about multipartyism. Yes, he said, a multi-party system will come to Tanzania. But we should be very cautious. Tanzania had become a one-party state by default not by design. Mr Gorbachev had unleashed forces which threatened to break up the Soviet Union. And we should look at the situation in Yugoslavia. If Tanzania had a multiparty system now ‘people would be bought’. Tanzanians would become items for sale. He referred to Nicaragua and American money and the recent allegation about Mr Scargill and Libya. He pointed to Mwalimu Nyerere’s great achievement in bringing 121 tribes together as Tanzanians. “We should take it easy on the multi-party issue. We might make a terrible mistake”.