AFRICAN PERSPECTIVES ON DEVELOPMENT. Eds: U Himmelstrand, K Kinyanjui, E Mburugu. 1994. James Currey.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS IN AFRICA. W Tordff. 1993, Indiana University Press.

POWER IN AFRICA. P Chabal. st. Martins Press. New York. 1994

‘African Perspectives on Development’, a tightly argued case laced with hard facts, calls into question much of the data and methodologies used by ‘experts’ (Eicher, Hyden, the World Bank) on the subject of Tanzanian agricultural production and its supposed decline during the years preceding the foreign exchange crisis of 1978. Marjorie Mbilinyi’s command of the history of agricultural production leads to conclusions that contrast sharply with those of the experts. Mbilinyi points, for example, to the tendency to aggregate crop data, combining plantation and peasant crops. Imagine aggregating data that include the collapsing sisal plantation industry with the positive growth of crops like tea and coffee planted by peasant and small capitalist producers! How easy to beat up on the small farmers once again; and how easy to justify unnecessary food imports.

From her factual base, Mbilinyi’s commentary is harsh. ‘Structural Adjustment Programmes’ (SAP’s) in agriculture are structured around the rehabilitation of the large-scale plantation and large farm sector owned by foreign, and, to a lesser extent, national enterprises and TNC’s, and the provision of a regular supply of cheap labour by impoverished peasants and farm workers. That the ‘cheap labour’ is mainly female is clear: by 1978 63% of all waged and unwaged agricultural labourers aged 15-29 were women. The campaign against the smallholder is further evidenced by data on credit: 90% of total lending in 1983 went to indigenous heads of household (covering some 4,300 out of 8,700 villages) as compared to only 15% of all peasant household heads in 1976. But following the SAP, only 2,000 villages received credit in 1986.

Recognising women’s grassroots organisations (in 1979 more than 7,500 economic groups on the mainland), and given the predominance of women in rural areas together with the much increased incidence of female-headed households, the author poses as ‘one of the greatest challenges to scholars and activists’ to ‘catch up with the ordinary women’. Much greater attention is due to the excellent writings of M Mbilinyi.

In the same volume, Samuel Chambua states that , irrespective of what development paradigm a sub-Saharan country has followed, the result has been the same ie: the failure to liquidate underdevelopment. This reviewer cheered his warning that ‘belief in the market has to be viewed with suspicion’ since the market was found wanting in the 1960’s as the solution to development problems. Both ‘modernization’ (dual economy) and ‘dependency’ theories are inadequate. Chambua calls for a theory and strategy that transforms the peasant economy while recognising that state and collective farms failed in both Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Also in ‘African Perspectives’, Benedict Mongula spoke to the ‘economic recovery experiments’ that have directly increased mass impoverishment, unemployment and destitution because both the social services sector and peoples’ real incomes have been affected. He points to the ‘considerable measurement problem’ in assessing the effectiveness of economic stabilization policies, due to such factors as the erratic inflation rates that follow currency devaluations and the challenge of comparing GNP’s when exchange rates and prices vacillate so much. Considering Mongula’s observations, one is tempted to question the exactness of economics as a science. After reviewing development theories and trends (often mentioning Tanzania) the author calls for a new kind of planning that would return control of their economies to the concerned countries themselves and avoid the blind liberalization of the economy advocated by the IMF.

Ernest Maganya scans the history of agricultural transformation in Southern Africa during the past three decades and the ongoing debate over modernization v dependency paradigms. Holding that the ‘free market’ can be ‘used or misused’, Maganya presents clear cases of government actions to improve or destroy the contributions of peasant farmers. He foresees the debate shifting from the issue ‘centrally planned economy v the market place’ to ‘the nature of the state that will have the political will and the technical capacity to harness the advantages of the market place and use it in the interests of the majority of the rural producers and smallholder peasants’.

The comprehensive analyses by the four Tanzanian authors above tempt one to ask the publishers of ‘African Perspectives’ to get a copy of their volume into the hands of every World Bank, IMF, and government planner. ‘Power in Africa’ a political essay labels as failures ‘paradigms lost’- all of the theories that have been employed to explain post-colonial politics. Patrick Chabal’s discussion of the African state as inherited from colonial powers, a state that did not arise from but had to create a nation, go a long way toward explaining why the post-colonial years have been perilous and why current economic adjustment programmes that disempower already fragile states’ capacities, carry with them a serious risk. Perceiving the state as the dominant economic actor in Africa – whether values are socialist, capitalist or mixed – Chabal nonetheless accepts ‘the politics of external aid’ from the West, the World Bank and the IMF as givens. He holds that ‘the system of dependence which is underpinned by the World Bank is one of the most significant factors in the survival of the post-colonial state. He sees such dependence as ‘hardly dependence at all’ but rather ‘inter-dependence’ – because, in his judgement, the donors finance African states ‘because the result is a relatively stable international order’ .

Some people, including this reviewer, hesitate to agree with Chabal, believing that the inherited risks that accompany adjustment programmes place ‘the social sectors in crisis’ as the World bank has itself said about its results in Tanzania (see ‘Adjustment in Africa’ page 413).

William Tordoff’s new edition of ‘Government and Politics in Africa’ is rich with detailed examples and refreshingly critical of both donor and developing countries. A former professor at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tordoff covers Tanzania thoroughly, from the East African Community through to President Mwinyi. He finds it ironic that ‘in the name of political and economic freedom’, western governments seek to deny African states the freedom to choose the political and economic systems that best suit their individual circumstances’. Questioning whether the African state as yet possesses the institutional capacity that the market economy system requires, he sees paradox in the SAP’s envisaging a ‘stronger society and a weaker central state’.

Reading Tordoff, I was reminded of President Nyerere’s response to questioning at a UN seminar in 1994. The gist of his statement was: They tell me all countries – the USA, Japan, Tanzania – participate on equal terms in the global ‘free market’. But putting Tanzania into that global market is like putting me in the boxing ring with champion Mohammed Ali! Margaret Snyder

THE MANAGEMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES IN TANZANIA: A PLEA FOR HEALTH SECTOR REFORM. P Sandford, G J Kanga and A M Ahmed. International Journal of Health Planning and Management. Vol. 9 No. 4. 1994. 13 pages.

This report on a research project in Kisarawe overturns widespread belief that management of health services can be substantially strengthened by such measures as development of information systems, training and evaluation. More radical changes are needed including the broadening of the base of funding (precise proposals are made) which would take into account an annual population survey in each district; full autonomy to health unit managers; the introduction of the private sector as provider; and, labour market reform including promotion to larger health units as incentives.


INFLUENCE OF ARABIC LANGUAGE ON SWAHILI (WITH A TRILINGUAL DICTIONARY). I Bosha. Dar es Salaam Univ. Press. 1993. 268 pages. £11.95. The author does not accept that Swahili was of Arabic origin. There were linguistic interferences from both sides. The book includes a list of Swahili words believed to have originated from Arabic.

DOCTOR’S CONTINUING EDUCATION IN TANZANIA: DISTANCE LEARNING. S S Ndeki et al. World Health Forum. Vol. 16. 1995. 6 pages.

THE POETRY OF SHAABAN ROBERT. Edited and translated into English by C Ndulute. Dar es Salaam University Press. 1994 179 pages. Shs3,260. A selection of the best and most representative of the poems.

QUALITY REVIEW SCHEMES FOR AUDITORS: THEIR POTENTIAL FOR SUBSAHARAN AFRICA. Sonia R Johnson. Technical Paper No 276. World Bank Findings. 1994. This paper concentrates on one aspect of financial management: the role of the external auditor and describes the results of two pilot quality reviews of government and private auditors in Tanzania and Senegal.

ECONOMIC CHANGE AND POLITICAL LIBERALIZATION IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA. Jennifer W Widner. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press. 1994. 307 pages. £14.00 paperback. The results of a 1992 colloquium in 1992 at Harvard; six case studies including one on Tanzania.

BUILDING CAPITALISM ….. SLOWLY. P Lewenstein. BBC Focus on Africa. Jan-March 1995. Two pages on how Tanzania is encouraging grass-roots capitalism.

THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACT OF HIV/AIDS ON FARMING SYSTEMS AND LIVELIHOODS IN RURAL AFRICA. T Barnett et al. Journal of International Development. Vol. 7. No 1. 1995. 12 pages.


STRUCTURALLY ADJUSTED AFRICA: POVERTY, DEBT AND BASIC NEEDS. D Simon, W van Spengen, C Dixon and Z Narman. Pluto Press. £12.95. Essays in this book cover the workings of structural adjustment in several African countries. The Tanzanian case study is on urban migration and rural development.

ESSAYS ON THE TRANSITION TO MULTI-PARTYISM IN TANZANIA. Pius Msekwa. Dar es Salaam University Press. 1995. This book of 10 essays by the Speaker of the National Assembly, which is apparently not-for-sale, describes the transition to multipartyism, shows how pluralism helped Parliament to recapture its supremacy from the CCM National Executive Committee, questions the decision to reject a three government structure for the country, suggests new methods of arranging presidential elections and points out that there is still no provision for independent candidates to stand for election.

URBAN FRUIT AND VEGETABLE SUPPLY IN DAR ES SALAAM. Geographical Journal. 160 (3). 1994. 11 pages.


BETTER HEALTH IN AFRICA: EXPERIENCES AND LESSONS LEARNT. World Bank. 1995. 240 pages. Tanzania is praised for its radio programme Man is Health which has been followed by two million people and also its health personnel plans where, in some cases, targets that were set up two decades ago have been surpassed.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT DECENTRALISATION AND THE HEALTH SECTOR IN TANZANIA. Public Administration and Development. 14 (5) 1994. 26 pages.

WOMEN AND COOPERATIVES IN TANZANIA: SEPARATISM OR INTEGRATION? Margaret R Msonganzila. Economic and Political Weekly. October 29. 1994. 11 pages in small type. This article discusses integrated cooperatives with men and women members and women-only cooperatives but states that the perspective and practice of Tanzanian Cooperative policies is biased against women.

The January 1995 issue of the JOURNAL OF FINANCE MANAGEMENT of the Institute of Finance Management in Dar es Salaam contains articles on the taxation of pension benefits, accounting and its environment in Tanzania, women executives and stress, an introduction to livestock insurance, safety management and on cushioning Tanzania’s external debt.

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