‘Le socialisme Tanzanien existe-t-il toujours?’ So began a recent article in ‘Jeune Afrique’, the very widely read weekly which circulates in Francophone Africa. We raised the same issue in our January Bulletin under the heading ‘Socialism and Capitalism’ in quoting a speech by Abdulrahman Mohamed Babu, a former Tanzanian cabinet minister. The same issue has been raised in Britain during President Nyerere’s recent visit on radio and television and in the press. It is also being widely discussed in Tanzania itself, particularly amongst CCM party leaders. For this reason we have two articles on the subject in this issue. The first, by quoting extracts from articles and speeches, explains how the issue arose and what Tanzania’s leaders are saying about it. The second is a detailed review of a broadcast on BBC’s Radio 4 entitled ‘The Tanzanian Experiment’ kindly prepared for us by Dr. Harry Goulbourne of the Centre for Caribbean Studies at the University of Warwick. We hope that these articles will stimulate discussion amongst readers and that they will write and let us know their reactions.

In the last issue we featured a speech by President Nyerere at the Sokoine University of Agriculture. Since then three members of staff from the University have been in the United Kingdom- Ndugu V.L. Kyelule, Head of the Development Studies Unit, Dr. M.E. Mlambiti, Head of the Rural Economy Department and Ndugu J. Ngasongwa, Senior Lecturer in Development Studies. I also met briefly Professor H. Othman, Director of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam when he was over here. Tanzania has been something of a pioneer in insisting that all university students should take Development Studies regardless of academic discipline. It is apparent, however, from my discussions with the Sokoine staff, now enjoying their university’s newly gained autonomy, that much serious thinking is going on about both the teaching and research activities in Development Studies at Sokoine. There is a growing feeling that the subject should be less ideologically oriented and should be restructured to give it a broader perspective, This is the reason why all three Sokoine visitors have been to the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University and the School of Development Studies in East Anglia. We hope to keep you informed of any progress.

Sokoine’s contacts with the United Kingdom are likely to be further strengthened by a link arrangement with Wye College of London University now being discussed. It will cover exchanges of staff, post-graduate training of Sokoine University staff at Wye and joint research activities particularly in the areas of food production, farming systems studies and the role of efficient marketing systems and cooperative societies in agricultural development.

The main event of interest since our last issue has been the visit to Britain of President Nyerere from 17th. to 21st. March, 1985. President Nyerere’s two main speeches concentrated on the debt problem of the Third World and the International Monetary Fund. A note on the part of the Royal Commonwealth Society speech which dealt specifically with ‘Tanzania is given later in this issue.

For those of us who were fortunate enough to be there, the highlight of the visit was the warm, friendly and, by the normal standards of Britain- Tanzania Society meetings, massive reception given by the Society with considerable help from the Tanzania High Commission. Perhaps the most poignant moment of all was the reading by Randal Sadleir of part of Mark Anthonyts speech in praise of Brutus from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in a translation made by the President himself:
…kwa nia safi kabisa,
Na kwa faida ya umma, akawa mmoja wao.
Alikuwa mwadilifu mwenye maisha manana;
Na vipaji vilikuwa vimechanganyika kwake,
Miungu wangaliweza kusimama na kusema,
Kwa ulimwengu mzima, ‘Huyu alikuwa mtu!’

It seemed very appropriate1

Many of our readers must have personal recollections of President Nyerere. On the occasion of his retirement from the presidency we have decided to produce a special issue in October, 1985, on the Nyerere years, Whether you knew him as President, politician, teacher, statesman, farmer, orator, poet, or just as a man, we would like to hear from you before 15th. August, 1985. Please send your contributions to David Brewin, Editor, 14B, Westbourne Grove Terrace, London W2 5SD, or by telephone to 01-727-1755. As we have limited space and must achieve a balance we may not be able to print all the contributions sent to us, but I hope this will not discourage you from sending me your contribution.


Tanzania has commended the British Government for putting the spirit of international brotherhood into practice. The commendation was made by the Prime Minister, Salim Ahmed Salim, when bidding advance farewell to workers of Balfour Beatty Construction Limited and of Howard Humphreys, Consultants, who are presently constructing the 307 kilometre Makambaku to Songea road.

He said, besides thanking the British Government for the grant of TShs.1,415 million for the construction of the road, that over 1,600 Tanzanians had benefited from the technological skills they had learned from their co-workers from Britain and that it was hoped that they would use the knowledge gained for the future development of the country. The Prime Minister said that Tanzania was also gratified that the British Government had given a three-year guarantee for the maintenance of the road after its completion in November this gear. He said that it was no secret that Tanzania had built many good roads, but after a short duration they had become mere monuments for lack of maintenance.

The British High Commissioner to Tanzania said that the project, the biggest grant ever given to Tanzania, would be a symbol of cooperation and friendship between the governments and peoples of the two countries. He said that when the road was completed all equipment used for the construction would be handed over to the Tanzanian Government.


At President Nyerere’s press conference at Claridges Hotel most of the questions were about South Africa, but on Tanzania there were the following questions and answers:
Q. Did you seek further British aid during your visit?
A. No. It was no& my object on this visit.
Q. Why are you retiring now?
A. I have done thirty years- seven years of struggle and twenty three years of leadership in independence. That is plenty. I am retiring now because there will be elections in October and I am not standing for President. My duty is to help the country over its transition to a new leadership.
Q. Who will be the next leader?
A. I have no idea. There are plenty of able people. We shall be meeting in early July to consider the matter.
Q. As a Christian, can you not now agree to a reconciliation after all these years with Oscar Kambona?
A. We didn’t ask him to leave. He is a self-exile. He can come back and live in Tanzania.
Q. How serious was the threat to your Government of the army mutinies in 1964?
A. It was quite serious…and unexpected. I can’t understand how it happened. I can understand the reasons as far as the situation in Zanzibar was concerned, but not how it happened first in Tanzania and then spread to Uganda and Kenya. Somebody should do some research.
Q. How did you survive?
A. I wasn’t shot!


President Nyerere’s two major speeches at the Mansion House and at the Royal Commonwealth Society have been widely reported. They concentrated on the debt problems of the Third World. Referring to Tanzania’s terms of trade, he said:

‘Taking 1980 as a base year, import prices had risen to 115.2 by 1984 and export prices to 103.3. In 1982 things were even worse, with import prices at 117.4 of the 1980 figure and export prices at 95.4. In reality this means that resources were transferred from Tanzania to its trading partners, including Britain and other developed countries.’

In a strong attack on the International Monetary Fund, he said: ‘When a country like Tanzania resists terms which it believes would make its economic conditions worse and imperil its social and political stability, it pays a very heavy price. Not only is it denied the foreign exchange injection to which its membership of the IMF ought to entitle it, and not only does it come under heavy pressure from its creditors and donors, it also has to continue paying foreign exchange to the IMF at its time of crisis.
For example, Tanzania’s foreign exchange difficulties began to become serious in 1978, yet between 1978 and 1984 it has made a foreign exchange payment to the IMF of 50.2 million SDR’s*. It cannot even get into arrears on these payments – they have to take priority over purchases even of food, or minimum oil requirements. For if payments are not made when due, continued negotiation about a new Agreement is suspended, and also it is designated as bankrupt by all other trading and financial partners.

What all this amounts to is an increasing tendency towards a kind of international authoritarianism. Economic power is used as a substitute for gunboats (sometimes- as in the case of Nicaragua- it is used as an addition) in enforcing the unilateral will of the powerful. The sovereign equality of all nations is ignored, as is the future stability of the world as a whole.

* A Special Drawing Right (SDR) is the Fund’s official unit of account. Its value is determined by reference to a basket of currencies.


Why are so many people talking about this issue this year? I think there are four policy changes announced during recent months which have stimulated the discussion. The first was the severe cost cutting exercise which began in last year’s budget (Bulletin of Tanzanian Affairs No.19) and was directed particularly at the parastatal bodies; it encouraged comparison with private sector efficiency. The second was the announcement on trade liberalisation , which was accompanied by the opening of two foreign exchange shops. The third and perhaps the most significant was the returning to the private sector of certain nationalised sisal estates. The fourth was very recent. President Nyerere stated that:
people with money will be permitted to build houses for rent, but that restrictions would remain in force for party leaders as stipulated in the Acquisition of Buildings Act of 1971. He said the aim was to supplement Government efforts to provide houses for the people. He also said that the circumstances which led to the nationalisation and the law on buildings were no longer relevant.

The following summarises the debate which has since occurred both inside and outside Tanzania.
On the cost cutting exercise and the public and private sectors Mwalimu said , when addressing the diplomatic corps in Dar es Salaam, that: ‘many steps have been taken by Government, and by the people, to tackle the underlying domestic factors which contribute to the low level at which our economy is currently operating. In particular we are trying to improve our efficiency and productivity in Government and parastatal organisations as well as to increase the incentives to our agricultural producers. Some of the steps which we have felt to be necessary do represent temporary set-backs in our struggle to build socialism based on the equality – and equal rights – of all our people. Thus, for example, I do not need to expand upon the extremely tough budget which Government introduced in June. It was a strain upon our people and in the interests of the future- including the need even now to make some new investment – made still further reductions in the real resources allocated to basic education, health and public services for our people.’

Ndugu Amir Jamal, Minister of State in the Office of the President, giving a keynote address on ‘Resolving the Economic Crisis’ at Dar es Salaam University, went further in the matter of the parastatals in saying that: ‘the management and workers of public enterprises must make a sustained effort to rid themselves of what can only be termed ‘monopoly psychology’… It has and will continue to cost us dear unless we realise that socialist construction will lose its meaning if , in actual performance, it is seen to replace, rather inefficiently, monopoly capitalism… It will be necessary over the years to introduce competitive management of our economy through policies and programmes aimed at productivity … capital formation and eventual elimination of inflation. ‘

At his London press conference President Nyerere was asked whether recent changes in the parastatals meant that he was abandoning socialism. His answer was direct:
‘This is another wish… that people have that will not come true. We have a very large public sector. It is unlikely that all parts of it will be efficient… We have much more experience about better structures than we had at the beginning. We want them (the parastatals) to be more efficient and more socialist. Some would like us to abolish them and turn to private enterprise to solve our problems… Private enterprise does not work that much better. Most African countries are in trouble and most are non-socialist.

In his address at the Royal Commonwealth Society President Nyerere moved on to the subject of private foreign investment.
‘Another solution frequently urged upon African and Third World countries is the greater encouragement of private foreign investment. In practice, investors are rarely interested in long term investment and are very selective. They are – understandably in the light of the genuine difficulties that exist – reluctant to go to really poor countries because their aim is profit, not development. It has been estimated that less than 10% of the foreign direct investment in the Third World is to be found in countries with a per capita gross domestic product of 500 dollars or below. Nevertheless, we are told that the solution is to make the conditions more attractive to investors. There are many African countries which try . But however capitalist-oriented the African country, success is very limited. Even Europe apparently cannot make private investment more attractive than it is in the USA; it is therefore difficult to see how Africa could do so. Especially when at the same time African states are being told to cut expenditure and generally add to austerity among the population- thus adding to social and political instability .

On the other hand he pointed out in a recent interview in ‘New Africa’ that the tyre factory in Tanzania was a joint venture with an American company and that the agreement had been entered into after the Arusha declaration. When asked whether he did not consider this as going against socialist principles, he said that he believed in the saying ‘use the capitalist system if you want to develop socialism.

On the subject of trade liberalisation it is clear that party members have been expressing some concern. Addressing members of staff at the Party Zonal College in Zanzibar on the occasion of the 21st. anniversary celebration of the Zanzibar revolution, Ndugu Rashidi Kawawa, Secretary General of the Party, said that liberalisation of trade was not a compromise in the implementation of the country’s socialist policy. The Party was as committed as ever before to building socialism in the country. ‘The trade liberalisation process is a deliberate tactical move aimed at stemming off a negative political climate.’ He explained that when consumer goods were scarce people with or without money complained bitterly and the few available goods could only be obtained at astronomical black market prices.

More recently, speaking to District party leaders at Kivukoni CCM Ideological College, President Nyerere indicated that the decision might be reviewed and that the relaxation should have lasted only six months ‘to entice people who might have siphoned hard currency out of the country to plough it back.’ However, he said that ‘the Government had no immediate plans to review the liberalisation announced last year, but he warned against contravention of the procedures governing the concession. He said that those who wanted to import must abide by the list of items issued by the Government and those who wanted to import additional items should seek permission from the Government. Mwalimu told party leaders that some importers had brought in such petty items as lipsticks, which were not listed for importation. Under the concession, Tanzanians working abroad or those returning home can import any of the designated items without having to state how they obtained the money to customs officials at the entry points. The items are motor vehicle spares and accessories, industrial machinery and spare parts, tractors and spare parts, road haulage and passenger carrying vehicles, garments, piece goods, cooking oils, shoes and shoe polish, socks and stockings, toothpaste, tooth brushes and soap, building materials, electrical fittings, fishing and carpentry equipment.

It is the change of structure of the sisal industry which has received most prominence in Tanzania with headlines in the Daily News- “Badly run TSA (Tanzania Sisal Authority) Estates to Go” and ‘TSA to sell 12 Estates’ on May 5th. and 8th. 1985 respectively. The first article reads:

‘President Nyerere has directed that all sisal estates which are badly managed in Tanga Region should be handed over to private firms capable of managing them, or should be turned over to villages for crop farming.
Addressing Regional leaders at the end of his three day visit to Tanga Region yesterday, Mwalimu said it was a shame that sisal estates managed by the Tanzania Sisal Authority were turning into bush. Mwalimu told the leaders that sisal, which was the leading crop in the Region and in the past one of the country’s important export crops, today comes fourth as a foreign exchange earner after coffee, cotton and tea. He admitted that it was a mistake to nationalise sisal estates in 1967 without considering the management aspects as was done in the case of key industries and commerce.
The President directed that abandoned TSA sisal estates should be turned over to villages to use them to grow food and cash crops, adding that the Regional Authorities should also not ‘be ashamed to hand over badly managed estates to capable private firms, ‘We nationalised sisal estates, but now it appears we have failed to manage them. It is not a bad idea to hand them over to private firms with the ability to run them, he said.

Sisal production at nationalisation was put at about 220,000 tonnes per year, but for a number of reasons, including poor management, this declined to 202,000 tonnes in 1970 and 174,000 tonnes in 1974. By last year production stood at 47,000 tonnes and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock announced measures to raise sisal fibre output to 66,000 tonnes this year. All sisal farms were to be cleaned up while raising the number of sisal cutters , planting fresh sisal, rehabilitating vehicles and improving the welfare of sisal estate workers.’

Three days later, the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Development, Professor John Machunda, gave directions on the matter and said that 12 estates had been earmarked for sale. He said the list of the 12 estates was drawn up in November last year, after which an advertisement for the sale of the farms totalling 30,006 hectares was put up by TSA. Professor Machunda told reporters that many prospective buyers for the estates had already responded, but declined to name them. ‘What is now awaited is an evaluation report on the estates before the Government decides on their sale, the Minister said, Of the 12 estates , only Kwashemshi and Mwele/Muhinduru estates in Tanga Region had been valued, Five were in Tanga Region and the rest were situated along the central railway line. A few days later the Guardian, quoting the Associated Press, added a remark by President Nyerere that ‘if I call back the British today to look at their former sisal estates, I am sure they will laugh at us because we ruined their estates.

In a short but tough interview on BBC television’s Newsnight programme during Mwalimu’s visit to Britain, Peter Snow asked: ‘Is there not some way in which the system, particularly the agricultural system, the communal socialism which you introduced in Tanzania… is it not that, in part ,that has caused the failure of your country to produce what it should be producing?’
The President replied :
‘What do you say to that ? African agriculture is backward in socialist and non-socialist countries alike . In my country we use the hand hoe. In capitalist countries in Africa they use the hand hoe. That defines the limits of what the peasant can do. The difference between a socialist country like Tanzania and a non socialist country is that the burdens of poverty are shared better in a socialist country than they are in a non-socialist country.’

Later he was asked why the IMF should not demand that Tanzania’s economy should be run more efficiently before they produce the kind of aid Mwalimu wanted, His reply was as follows:
‘I am trying to get our economic system to be as efficient as it can be. But efficiency in a system of exploitation is an immoral system, where the rich are feeding on the poor.
The President was asked at the Royal Commonwealth Society about the future . ‘Will your ideology be continued?’ He replied , ‘I wouldn’t be stepping down if I wasn’t sure that the policy will continue. Referring to his intention to continue as head of the Party after his retirement from the Presidency Mwalimuu stated in his television interview that in this capacity, in a one-party state, he did not expect to be ‘without influence.’

Certain Newspapers took the opportunity of President Nyerere’s visit to attack Tanzania’s socialist policies, the strongest attack of all being in the Spectator. The Sunday Times profiled the ‘Saint with a Tarnished Halo’. But the Guardian in a prominently featured article entitled ‘The Patient Vision of Julius Nyerere’ by Victoria Brittain was more sympathetic: Some of Tanzania’s most enthusiastic backers in the early attempts to ‘grope towards socialism’, as Nyerere put it two decades ago, have become discouraged at the lack of clear successes. Not Nyerere. ‘I was also more impatient 18 years ago. I set out to build a socialist and self-reliant Tanzania. You ask me, is Tanzania socialist and self-reliant? The answer is no. But I never expected it in 18 years, We were a backward, totally illiterate country. We have had tremendous successes. In 1966 there were 300,000 children in primary school for four years. Today all 3.5 million primary school children are getting seven years of schooling, We have virtually wiped out illiteracy. I remember our youth used to ask me at independence, when will we achieve our goals? Perhaps in 30 years, I used to answer.

The ‘economic disaster of the continent in the 1980’s’ may have set the distant goal back a bit, but it has strengthened Nyerere’s authority as the prophet who got it right and the weak who refused to give in to the strong.
David Brewin


The BBC Radio Four programme Analysis on 5th. February focussed on what it appropriately called ‘The Tanzanian Experiment’ with central planning of the economy since the Arusha Declaration of 1967. This major policy departure led, in the years between 1967 and 1976/7 to significant reordering of the economy, of society and of political institutions in the country under the banner of ‘ujamaa’, the kiswahili word which has come to be regarded as the equivalent of socialism. Since Julius Nyerere, the father of the nation, is to resign from the presidency later this year after a quarter of a century as the helmsman, a programme of this kind was pertinent. Although the presenter, David Wheeler, did not actually say so , he left very little doubt that the conclusion he wished to impress on his listeners was that the experiment had failed and that private capitalism would have boded less ill for Tanzania. I would argue, however, that this interpretation of developments in post-Arusha Tanzania is unsatisfactory in a number of important respects.

Of course the strength of the programme was that it offered a generous coverage of important issues- the parastatals, villagisation, corruption, public order, the union between Zanzibar and mainland Tanganyika, the Party (CCM), Nyerere and the question of the succession, and so forth. A11 of these are issues that the country’s new parliamentary and presidential leadership to be elected in November will have to address in the light of the poor performance of an over-regulated economy and an excessively ordered society in the eighteen years since the Arusha Declaration. The programme was also strong on the selection of participants . Apart from one expatriate young woman, all the respondents were experienced people whose noses have long been close to the ground.

It was unfortunate, therefore, that the presenter was not willing, or perhaps able, to follow any of the affirmative and quite sober analyses offered by his respondents. It was somewhat paradoxical that whilst participants were admitting to the failures of the experiment in the most candid manner and pointing to possible correctives, Mr. Wheeler chose to develop his ‘analysis’ along the lines of the wiseacres you can find at fashionable hotels in Nairobi or Arusha or Dar es Salaam drinking tusker or Kilimanjaro beers and bemoaning the colonial past. To be sure the general sentiments expressed by the narrator are sometimes to be found in more respectable (often ‘left’) circles in the West – gross insensitivity and cynicism accompanied by a mocking jeer at whatever progressive leaders in the Third World countries attempt to do by way of effecting social change. Interestingly enough, it is becoming more common for some ‘left wing’ analysts strongly to support the World Bank’s prescription for Africa – partial withdrawal of the state from the economy and active encouragement of private capital, which can lead to cuts in public spending on health, education and so forth. Informing such a perspective is usually the absence of an appreciation of the general context of poverty and often the at best limited development in which progressive regimes are having to operate whilst coping with a generally hostile international environment.

An awareness of this context is sadly missing from Mr. Wheeler’s analysis of the Tanzanian experiment. Tanzania, for example, has long been amongst the twenty five poorest countries in terms of present development of the productive forces and the creation of wealth. A large country with enormous potential, her population has been largely concentrated at the periphery, thereby posing problems of communication, defence, access to markets, delivery of government services, etc.. Additionally, Tanzania before the Arusha Declaration was not exactly a country to which investors were flooding. In such a situation if any development is to take place including putting in place the basic infrastructure which would make it possible for the government successfully to invite foreign capital- it had to be undertaken by the state. The fact that the state has failed to effect development efficiently does not necessarily mean that the original decision to regulate the economy was essentially wrong.

At independence in 1961 Tanzania faced a familiar set of problems that all ex-colonies have had to confront at this juncture- how so to utilise the limited services and resources, which in the colonial period were designed and well administered for the benefit of the colonialists, for a vastly enlarged constituency with newly acquired rights. Few, if any, countries have been able to redistribute in a manner that enables the poor to have some access to the basic needs of life, such as medicine, water, food, shelter and education, as Tanzania has been able to do. This success has undoubtedly slowed down the process of private capital accumulation, but this of itself is not evidence that private capital would have done things any better. After all, Tanzania went a far shorter distance along the path of development during the decades of direct colonialism than in the relatively short period since 1967.

One of the central questions, or set of questions, that Mr. Wheeler posed concerned the problem of continuity once Nyerere takes a back seat after November. In terms of the political aspect of the question I have always maintained that one of Nyerere’s positive contributions has been the development of a political system that may outlast him. This obviously would be an achievement anywhere, but especially so in Africa. As Haroub Othman said on the programme, the Tanzanian experiment has not been merely a ‘Nyerere business’, which is likely to go with him in the way that Nasserism, or Nkrumahism, were quickly and easily swept aside after their departures.

On the economic side the question has been improperly posed. In some quarters in the West people have chosen to believe that the Tanzanian experiment rules out participation in the economy by private investors, but this has been far from the truth. If this point was somewhat lost in the noise and fury that accompanied the Arusha Declaration and Mwongozo 1 in 1971, a number of government statements, including the five year plans, have repeatedly called for private and foreign capital participation in the country’s development. The stress that this is presently receiving, including Nyerere’s willingness to return sisal estates to private investors, obviously indicates a shift in the balance of forces in the leadership in favour of those who have seen enough of the large and inefficient bureaucracy which has developed and who would in any event be happier in an economic climate where private wealth and political office could go hand in hand. It is also an admission that the state bureaucracy is ill equipped to manage an under-developed, shaky economy. My reading of the situation, however, is that greater participation of private capital in the economy will have to be presented and defended within the broad nationalist framework established by the Declaration.

The valuable lessons learnt in the process of an experiment with change and the frank admission of these warrant informed and sympathetic analysis, not cynicism. The biblical view that ‘a little knowledge puffeth up’ is perhaps therefore more apt with regard to the superficial analysis offered in the programme than is Mr. Wheeler’s paraphrasing of St. Augustine with respect to Tanzanian socialists.
Harry Coulbourne


Dr. John Robertson from the University of Leeds has drawn our attention to a disturbing note in a recent issue of the ‘New Scientist’. It appears that the African Violet is threatened with extinction in the wild.

World trade in the African Violet (Saintpaulia ionantha) is worth an estimated 30 million dollars per year. But all the plants are propagated in greenhouses. In the wild the species is on a list of 12 most threatened plants drawn up by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

Eighteen of the twenty known species are found only in Tanzania, and these in the Usambara mountains.

Though occupying only 2% of the country, the mountains contain an unrivalled diversity of animal and plant life. After the end of the most recent ice age, which brought lush forest to much of East Africa, the mountains became the only areas moist enough for the forest species to survive. The highlands each contain as many species as all the tropical forests of West Africa… So far, only Saintpaulia ionantha has been exploited by horticulturalists…

In 1983, Jon Lovett, a botanist working for the World Wildlife Fund, found what he thought was a new species in the largely undisturbed Uzungwa mountains. Careful identification has now proved it to be S. ionantha. A new locality for the species brought new hopes for its survival, but those hopes may be short lived. The Government-owned Tanzanian Wood Industries Corporation is receiving Finnish aid to build sawmills in the area. It intends to fell a third of the forest, 12,000 hectares in all.

The first sawmill in East Usambara is already in operation. In the less disturbed Uzungwa Mountains there is a scheme to clear 40,000 hectares for a sawmill under construction at Mangula…

Other plants growing wild in the woods that have won favour as houseplants in Europe and the US include the African Primrose, Streptocarpus, and the Busy Lizzy, Impatiens. Fifty three of the world’s 109 species of Busy Lizzy are found in the Tanzanian forests. Only nine species have so far been used by plant breeders.

Altogether a quarter of all plant species in Tanzania’s moist forests are unique to the Eastern arc mountains. They include timber species such as Cephaloshaera usambarensis, a relative of the nutmeg. It is fast growing and could become an important tree for timber plantations. The forests also contain 16 wild species of coffee, one of Tanzania’s principal exports. Ten are found only in Tanzania. Only three species are so far used commercially.


‘The people of Tanzania are simultaneously inhabiting the age of the hand hoe, the bush telegraph, of women being used as beasts of burden and of the combine harvester, the computer and the Concorde.’ So said Mwalimu Nyerere in another of those wide-ranging homilies addressed to Tanzania’s professional cadres (in Bulletin No.20 we covered his address to agriculturalists), homilies for which he is well known. The occasion was a seminar on rehabilitation and maintenance arranged by the Institution of Engineers in Arusha in February, 1985. He went on:

‘This cannot continue indefinitely. We cannot choose the old era, with the dirty water, the disease and the suffering which it involved. But we are day-dreamers, not leaders- and certainly not engineers- if we imagine that Tanzanian agriculture and Tanzanian industry can become a transplanted Japan or America or Russia within a few years.
Our task is to move from where we are, using our own energy and our own resources. We have begun to effect changes; our villages and towns are different places now from what they were twenty years ago. Sometimes we have made very expensive mistakes by trying to make too big a technical jump in one direction or other; in some areas we have been so cautious that movement became imperceptible. Our task now is to recover the ground we have lost by our mistakes and by the effects of external events over which we have no control, and to move forward steadily at as fast a pace as is within our own capacity.’

He touched on many other aspects of the work of Tanzanian engineers: ‘Our national poverty sad our economic backwardness is to a large extent a reflexion of the widespread technical ignorance in our society. This in turn has led to an ignorance of the social and economic implications of technology. Even the technological advances which we do make therefore fail to advance our economy to the extent that they could do and are very costly.
The use of modern technology demands a degree of industrial, managerial and commercial discipline and planning which does not yet exist in our society. As a result, expensive capital investments are misused and damaged, or stand idle for long period. There have been cases of productive equipment, which cost hundreds of thousands of US dollars to buy, being irreparably damaged became they were not regularly greased; in other instances such machines have stood idle for months because a defective valve costing 30 dollars was not immediately replaced. The engineer can argue that it is not his job to order, pay for and transport the missing valve from its place of manufacture; but without the valve his expertise is useless. He can argue that it is not his job to do, or even to supervise, regular greasing; but if this is not done all his knowledge about how to repair a machine is wasted. In Tanzania an engineer either takes responsibility to ensure that such things are done, or he is of little practical use to us.’

On assessing costs:
‘Costs must be taken into account at every stage in a new project… And in this respect the engineers have a unique responsibility. Political leaders and economists very rarely have the technical capability to reject a proposal on the grounds that the building could be safely erected or the goods produced at half the cost.

But the costs which are submitted for consideration and which will be the basis for most decision-making must be the real costs – the costs over the life of the machine or project, including an adequate maintenance and running allowance, And I suggest that whether these costs are for labour or for machinery- most of which is imported – should be emphasised: whether the money we spend is going to be having its multiplier effect in Tanzania, or in the country which makes the machines, should be a relevant factor in our decision-making, quite apart from the fact that we do have more labour than savings or borrowing capacity.

Cost assessments must also distinguish between local costs and foreign exchange costs- both at the time of construction and in operation. In the past we have not done this to a sufficient extent. Consequently we have created a very import-dependent industrial structure and are in danger of doing the same in agriculture. That so many of our factories now operate at 30% capacity is not unconnected with this fact. The engineers must insist that their views are listened to. And they must fight, in themselves as well as in the inclinations of politicians, the temptations of being associated with something which is big and impressive to look at or talk about. Prestige projects, as they are called, are fine if and when they do the job needed: they are a major shame and disaster if ten years later you are still paying out large sums of money for something which has failed to deliver the goods or the service required.

On building materials Tanzanian engineers must be innovators and problemsolvers:

‘the solvers of Tanzanian problems, not those of a developed or rich society. They face, for example, the challenge of re-examining our whole approach to building methods, regardless of whether these relate to houses and offices, or sewerage systems, or communications links.

I am no engineer, but I have seen factories and workshops in China which do not have grand buildings, yet still produce the goods needed. I have heard that in West Africa and the Middle East certain buildings made of mud have been standing and in use for hundreds of years. So I ask, why do all our factory and office buildings have to be so expensive?

On traditional practices:
‘Traditional practices- in Tanzania and elsewhere- are therefore not irrelevant to modern engineers. Local people did devise methods of solving their problems and meeting their needs with the resources around them; are we quite sure that none of these can be used now after improvement by the application of engineering knowledge?
Traditional blacksmiths used to provide- and indeed are now providing, or at least repairing- ploughshares, hoes and axes; they are indeed real technicians and engineers in embryo. Some of our peoples used dyes made from plants or earth; can nothing be done to make these suitable for our textile factories?’

On being educators:
‘1 believe that Tanzanian engineers have to be educators if they are to fulfil their responsibilities to this country. Take part in our national life- as engineers. You must publicise your knowledge and spread your understanding of the social and economic implications of modern technology. Your journal- ‘The Tanzanian Engineer’ – is one medium through which you fulfil the vital function of educating yourselves and spreading knowledge among professionals… I hope you will be able to expand this journal and make it reach the technicians as well as the professional engineers.

But that is not enough. Engineers should be writing for our newspapers… They should be talking on the radio about some of the many engineering related matters, which are more important to our peasants and workers than these realise. And do not wait for editors to ask for articles : offer them! Your articles will need to be written in non-technical language which our people can understand. But the engineering profession can only gain if your efforts contribute to a greater technological understanding in our society.


The ‘Daily News’ in an article headed ‘Focus “84”‘ has thrown some light on what is described as a ‘serious political crisis’ which occurred at the beginning of 1984 and the efforts of the Party to resolve it. The article states that the crisis was serious –

because it both endangered the continued existence and survival of the nation as well as the threatened integrity of the political system. For underlying what came t o be described as ‘cleansing the polluted political atmosphere in Zanzibar’ were serious issues of a basic and fundamental nature with important political implications. Basic and fundamental because they were related to national integrity , particularly whether the Union should continue to exist and in the same form and manner as the people had known them since its creation on April 26th. 1964.

The relevance and significance of this development does not merely lie in the fact of its having been amicably resolved. In other words it does not simply lie in the country having successfully averted a potentially dangerous crisis. It also lies in the fact of those issues and the entire crisis being resolved by the Party. The fact of the Party rather than any other contemporary organ handling this situation is significant because it at tests and underscores its centrality and supremacy in the polity.

This point becomes particularly apparent when the following facts are taken into consideration. First, the emerging crisis was first discussed in the Central Committee of the National Executive Committee of the Party. Second, the whole is sue was brow before the National Executive Committee of the Party and subsequently discussed frankly and exhaustively in one of its most important sessions.

Third, the discussion and debate culminated in the resignation from the offices of Vice-Chairman of the Party, Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Chairman of the Revolutionary Council of Zanzibar and President of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar of Ndugu Aboud Jumbe. Fourth, it was the National Executive Committee which not only accepted his resignation, but also nominated Ndugu Ali Hassan Mwinyi as Interim Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Interim Chairman of the Revolutionary Council and Interim President of the Revolutionary Government.

Apart from demonstrating the fact of the supremacy of the Party, the additional significance of this development lies in its being the first time a leader of national importance relinquished his office voluntarily through resignation. When it is realised the person concerned held the number two office in the Union Government and the number one office in the Revolutionary Government, the significance of the change becomes apparent. Equally significant is the fact of this change having resulted in the immediate elections in Zanzibar for the offices of the Chairman of the Revolutionary Council and President of the Revolutionary Government. Although it was not the first time those offices were filled through elections, they were nevertheless the first elections to fill an office left vacant by a previous incumbent.