THIS is a continuation of last week’s article, in which I reminded our readers that the year 2017 is the 50th anniversary, or golden jubilee, of the Arusha Declaration, which was promulgated in February 1967. I therefore devoted that article to the purpose of commemorating that momentous event in the political history of our country, as we celebrate its golden jubilee this year.
However, due to limited editorial space, I was able to revisit only the contents of that historic document, but promised to comment on the allegations that the Arusha Declaration was ‘killed’ in Zanzibar in this week’s article. Hence, today’s article is in fulfillment of that promise, in which I will endeavour to provide the reasons which led to the implementation of the Arusha Declaration being put in abeyance, but certainly not ‘killed’! The meaning of the word ‘ abeyance’ The dictionary definition of the word ‘abeyance’ is given as “not being used, or being stopped for a period of time”.
As will be noted in this article, the fact that the Arusha Declaration ‘was not being used’, was readily admitted by the Party (CCM) itself as far back as 1981, when it actually said so in its publication titled “ The CCM Guidelines, 1981” .
That document acknowledges that “although the Party has been quite successful in a number of areas, it must be admitted that it has failed in its efforts to build socialism” and continues as follows:
“ A major obstacle in this particular area has been the extremely low level of understanding of the Ujamaa ideology among its members; plus the lack of serious programmes for its implementation. It is a truism that without soldiers who carry out the fighting at the front line of socialist construction, the intended objective cannot be achieved.
The front line soldiers in this case, are the individual members and leaders of CCM, who must take the initiative, and thus show the way for others to follow.
And in order for that to happen, the first and foremost requirement for the Party, is to enable every individual member to acquire a deep understanding of the theory and practice of socialism” Reasons for putting Ujamaa in abeyance.
(i) Attempting to build socialism without socialists. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary defines the word ‘ideology’ as “A set of ideas or beliefs that form the basis of an economic or political theory, or are held by a particular group, or person”. Hence, as we saw in last week’s article, the Arusha Declaration itself described Ujamaa as “an attitude of mind”, and further that “it can only be established by people who sincerely believe in its efficacy”.
And again, as we have just seen above, the CCM Guidelines of 1981 readily acknowledged “the extremely low level of understanding of the Ujamaa ideology among the members of CCM themselves” (who should be at the front line of the socialist construction efforts).
This kind of situation is what I have described in the sub-heading above, as “attempting to build socialism without socialists”. That is to say that the Party was attempting to rely on people “with an extremely low level of understanding of the Ujamaa ideology” to implement the said ideology!
This is obviously the main reason which contributed to the putting of the Arusha Declaration in abeyance, without ‘killing’ it. But there are several other reasons, which are enumerated below.
The other reasons. Based on my own experience of most of the events which took place at the material time, I can add the following factors which led to the ‘loss of faith’ in the efficacy of the Ujamaa philosophy. (ii) The damaging mistakes which were made in moving the rural population into Ujamaa Villages.
The said exercise was code named “Operation Vijiji”, and was inaugurated in early 1973, when the then ruling Party TANU, decided that all persons living in the rural areas of Mainland Tanzania must be moved and settled into properly planned Village settlements (to be known as “Ujamaa Villages’), within three years. However, many of the officials who were given the responsibility of implementing this exercise decided on their own, that it would be better if this exercise was completed in only one year, instead of three.
The result was a near disaster. In many cases, excessive force was used. For example, large numbers of people were summarily rounded up at short notice, and trucked off, together with their belongings, to the un-serviced sites of their proposed new villages. And in some of the cases, these operations were accompanied by the destruction of existing homes, in order to ensure that their owners would not return to their former homes; or where, in the opinion of the local official concerned, the relevant family appeared to resist his orders to move to the new allocated area within a short specified time. Such behavior, obviously, created totally negative attitudes towards Ujamaa, among the communities which were affected.
(iii) The failure of the socialist industrial sector, Unfortunately, the nationalized industries also failed to produce enough goods and services for the needs of the people.
Such failure led to numerous complains among the majority of the country’s population, who had to cue up for long periods of time, almost every day, in order to be able to buy even the most essential house hold goods.
This state of affairs also greatly contributed to the ‘loss of faith’ in the efficacy of the Ujamaa ideology; and could not possibly turn even the most loyal of the CCM members into ‘front liners’ in the socialist construction efforts, as had been envisaged by the CCM Guidelines of 1981. (iv) The negative influence inflicted by the anti-Ujamaa lobby.
This lobby actively engaged itself in spreading the negative message that ‘socialism creates poverty’ (Ujamaa ni umasikini). They were strategically basing themselves on the prohibitions which are specified in Part V of the Arusha Declaration. Part V is what provides for the leadership code, which strictly prohibits all Party and all Government leaders from engaging themselves in certain specified economic activities, by ordering that any such leader: “shall not engage himself in any capitalist or feudalist activities; shall not own any shares in any company; shall not be a Director in any capitalist or feudalist company; shall not receive two or more salaries; and shall not own any houses or other buildings which he puts on rent.
And, for the avoidance of any doubt, it was stated very clearly that in this context, the word ‘leader’ also includes his or her spouse. Those provisions were largely in respect of individuals. But the said lobbyists were also severely critical of the nationalization measures which were taken in order to put the major means of production under Government control. All these measures, they claimed, were aimed at making people poor.
They therefore actively spread negative messages about Ujamaa, claiming as they did, that Ujamaa ni umasikini. The Zanzibar NEC meeting of February 1991. This is the meeting which is widely criticized for having ‘killed’ the Arusha Declaration.
It seems that this negative propaganda, plus all the other factors mentioned above, had a big enough impact on the minds of the Party policy makers who, in the words of a statement issued by the Party Chairman, President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, following that meeting, was intended to ‘clarify’ these issues. The said statement was subsequently published under the eyecatching title of “Twende na Wakati”.
In part, it reads as follows “ Regarding the prohibition on leaders not to own houses for renting out, it is clarified that not every house which is put on rent constitutes an offence under the leadership code.
Such offence is committed only when a specified leader actually makes it his business to build houses for renting out. For example, no offence is committed where a specified leader owns a house which has more rooms than he actually needs for accommodating his family. It is perfectly in order for such leader to rent out the rooms which are in excess of his needs., as he will thereby be helping to reduce the acute problem of housing shortages.
Similarly, where a particular leader has built a house which he himself cannot occupy, for reasons such as having been transferred to another distant station, it is in order for him to rent out his house for the period of his absence from the station where his house is situated. With regard to the prohibition of receiving more than one salary, it is clarified that there are two basic human rights which must be observed and respected. One is a person’s right to work, and the other is a person’s right to a fair remuneration for the work done.
Thus, if a particular specified leader holds two different jobs, he is entitled to a salary for each of his jobs”. However, these clarifications notwithstanding, critics have maintained that the Arusha Declaration was ‘killed’ by that Zanzibar meeting.
(V) The concept of ‘party ideology’ is not deeply rooted in our culture. There is one other factor which contributed to the failure to implement the Ujamaa ideology, and that is the fact that the concepts of ‘party politics’ and ‘party ideology’ have no real roots in our culture.
This is because, our own indigenous governance systems were not based on the ‘party system’. They were mostly based on the monarchical system, headed by rulers called Watemi, or Chi efs. And, in that type of governance system, there were no political parties competing for power.
In other words, the culture of ‘political parties competing for power’ was totally non-existent. Thus, because the culture of political parties was absent, its associated culture of ‘party ideology’ was similarly absent.
For example, when TANU was inaugurated as a political party in 1954, the only understanding of the objectives of a political party was ‘to fight against colonial rule, in order to achieve independence for the country’.
That was readily understood and widely accepted by TANU members and supporters. But that concept was very different from the ideology of ‘Ujamaa’, which the Arusha Declaration itself had defined as “an attitude of mind, whose successful implementation depended on those who had complete faith in the efficacy of that particular system. (vi) The difficult demand for the Party members’ absolute faith in Ujamaa The dictum of the Arusha Declaration that “Ujamaa is an attitude of mind’ or is ‘a matter of faith’, was a significant factor which contributed to the failure to implement the Arusha Declaration, and its being put in abeyance. Such demands for peoples’ absolute faith have indeed worked perfectly well in matters of religion.
But there no evidence of similar success anywhere, in relation to political ideologies. This is probably because in an environment where the majority of the people are poor; the only meaningful ‘ ideology’ (a shared set of beliefs ), is the desire for a more comfortable life in terms of good health, good housing and good food.
Such abstract concepts of capitalism, communism, and socialism, could not readily register on their minds, for they required a lot of explaining and convincing, preferably by citing some available examples which demonstrate their positive impact on the lives of ordinary people.
But instead of such positive examples, Tanzanians had only experienced some negative examples, such as the requirement that the residents of Ujamaa village must not only live together, they must also “work together for their mutual benefit”, on their village land, or shamba la Kijiji.
This was actually an imposed communal system of production, which was not inspiring enough to be able to attract genuine popular acceptance and support. In such circumstances, failure was inevitable. And this is what in fact happened, and quickly led to the decision which was made by the February 1991 NEC meeting in Zanzibar, namely, to put the implementation of the Arusha Declaration in abeyance. But certainly not to kill it.!