TOMORROW is the 18th anniversary of the death of Tanzanian Founder President and Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere.
In my perspective last week, I enticed to what extent our current leader; the fifth President of our country, Dr John Magufuli, is treading on the footsteps of our founding leader.
For us who were around during the lifetime of Mwalimu Nyerere who had nationalized the commanding heights of the economy then, were extremely happy with President Magufuli’s recent move to put a stop to the daylight robbery of our immense mineral wealth which were being shipped out of the country with wanton abandon for a considerable period of time.
The question is where do we move from here. But before addressing this question, it is important to take a serious glance at the broad picture of our country, in terms of the lot of our people.
In the days of Mwalimu Nyerere, we had the Arusha Declaration, which defined our country as a country composed of peasants and workers with the ideology of UJAMAA NA KUJITEGEMEA (Socialism and Self-reliance).
Taking a hard look at the Tanzanian society today, has it changed from this definition proclaimed by the Arusha Declaration in 1967? To my mind, and I believe the mind of most Tanzanians, this country is still composed of peasants and workers.
Actually, with the emergence of the private sector which replaced the socialist public sector, a consequence of the pressure of imperialism in the mid-eighties, the plight of workers in this country is worse off -- given the logic of capitalism – hiring by wave of the hand and dismissing equally by the wave of the hand of the owner of a given enterprise!
Those around from the days of the Arusha Declaration in 1967 when a public sector was born and blossomed with the birth of factories and industries would remember how workers were treated and how it was easy for youths to get jobs with state enterprises right from school or college.
Equally, in the days of the socialist agenda of the Arusha Declaration, peasants who are still the majority in this country were the focus of development activities. Basically, most people in white-collar jobs and other activities in this country’s urban areas mostly originate from rural areas whose greater preoccupation is tilling the land – agriculture.
Unfortunately, there is a greater exodus from rural areas of this country to urban areas. What could be the reason? The reason is simple: They are running away from the hand-hoe, which is the only means available for agricultural activity for majority of the people of this country.
Therefore, it is extremely important for the Magufuli Administration to set its priorities right given its current agenda – to industrialize the country (Tanzania ya viwanda) as goes the clarion call in Kiswahili.
Since peasants (wakulima) seem to be the major ity in the country, the move to industrialize should commence with setting up factories which would manufacture farming equipments such as tractors, ploughs and so forth.
There should be a deliberate policy to make these farming equipments affordable to the majority poor peasants via direct state subsidy. Unfortunately these days, very few political leaders move around mobilizing agriculture as was in the days of Mwalimu Nyerere Administration where there was even a political clarion call to the adage that “agriculture is politics” (Siasa ni Kilimo) Why are we not talking agriculture these days?
Isn’t agriculture still the key to our economic development? As enticed at the launch of this perspective, President Magufuli’s move to put a halt on the loot of our immense mineral wealth reminded some of us on what followed after the Arusha Declaration when commanding heights of the economy then were nationalized.
But any move at this level has its consequences. There is already a backlash by those affected by our government’s move – they are waging a campaign of mud-slinging on our President, calling him all sorts of names as those who may have come across the recent edition of Africa Confidential know already.
Even the other day, an aircraft bought by our government has been held in Canada for one reason or another. But this is a war, an economic war that must be joined by all of us, nationals of this country, in support of our President’s correct move to put a stop on the loot of our mineral resources. Those multinationals who have been taking away our mineral resources are not smiling at us, are they?
Another piece of advice is for us to put up a public policy related to the ownership of our natural resources. Such policy should state clearly that Tanzania is for “equity shares” of its natural resources and will never settle for “royalties”.
Those shares and subsequent negotiations should be in such a manner that the government of the day here should own majority shares in each resource not less than 51%. How can we settle for “royalties” while both the land and minerals are ours? Our friends, the Chinese have an ideology.
Their ideology is “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Where are they now? They are rich enough even to lend money to the unipolar power we have in place, isn’t it? Why can’t we re-introduce and pursue the original ideology we had here during the days of Mwalimu Nyerere – Ujamaa na Kujitegemea – Socialism and Self-reliance?
If we have an ideology, we will always be conscious of who and what we are, where we come from and the way forward.