BITS AND PIECES OF OUR POLITICAL HISTORY:Marking 50th anniversary of the Arusha Declaration

Pius Msekwa

I WISH to begin by reminding our readers that the year 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the Arusha Declaration, which was promulgated on February 5, 1967.

Hence, lest we forget, I wish to dedicate this particular article to the commemoration of that momentous decision, which was made in Arusha by the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) 50 years ago.. I believe this is important because these days, practically no one talks about the Arusha Declaration. It seems to have been demoted to the archives and, as a consequence thereof, has been totally forgotten!

But the act of revisiting the Arusha Declaration is important also for another reason. This is because it was, at one time, widely alleged that it had been ‘killed’ in Zanzibar in February 1991! Thus, I propose to do two things.

The first is to draw attention to the continued existence of the Arusha Declaration. Secondly, I will endeavour to explain that the Arusha Declaration was not killed in Zanzibar, as is commonly alleged. Instead of saying that it was ‘killed’; I would rather say that it was ‘put in abeyance’; i.e. put in a position of not being implemented.

The resignation of Mwalimu Nyerere from the Premiership.

However, because the wider purpose of this article is to present some selected ‘bits and pieces’ of our national political history, I will take this opportunity to also reflect on one other issue of significant historical importance which took place in January 1962, only a little more than one month after independence.

I am referring to the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Julius Nyerere, on 22nd January 1962. I believe this is well- worth remembering, because the Prime Minister’s resignation within such few weeks after independence, not only caused widespread sensation, but its basic purpose was also widely misunderstood, both within and outside Tanganyika.

In a book written by John Hatch titled “ Two African Statesmen, Kaunda of Zambia and Nyerere of Tanzania” (Martin Secker & Waburg, London); the event of Mwalimu Nyerere’s surprise resignation from the Premiership is described as follows: “It is virtually unknown for a politician to surrender his office voluntarily.

It is certainly unique for a man to lead his country into independence, and then almost immediately retire from the leading position. Inevitably therefore, speculation over the cause of his unprecedented action spread throughout the country, and far beyond.

Naturally, it was widely assumed that he had been driven out of office by his critics in the Party, and the Trade Unions who had openly opposed him, particularly on his racial policy, during the months preceding independence”.

But, in fact, all that was mere speculation, which was totally misguided. The true reasons for his resignation are clearly stated in the Minutes of the meeting of TANU’s National Executive Committee, which was held from 16th to 21st January, 1962, as follows: “Rais wa Chama alikiarifu kikao juu ya mpango wake wa kujiuzulu Uwaziri Mkuu, ili aweze kutumia muda wake wote katika kukijenga upya Chama cha TANU na kukiweka katika hali mpya ya kuwa ni Chama Tawla, baada ya kuwa sasa kimekamilisha kazi zake za kuwa ni Chama cha kupigania Uhuru. Na zaidi kwamba hiyo ndiyo ilikuwa sababu yake kubwa ya kuitisha mkutano huo wa Halmashauri Kuu ya Taifa, ili aweze kuwataarifu wajumbe juu ya azma yake hiyo”.

It is further recorded in the said minutes that upon this surprise announcement by Mwalimu Nyerere, the meeting decided to postpone discussion on all other matters which were listed on its agenda, in order to enable members to concentrate on this surprise issue.

It is further reported therein that discussions regarding this matter continued over a period of six full days, during which every member who got an opportunity to express his views, strongly opposed Mwalimu Nyerere’s intention to resign from the Premiership.

However eventually, upon seeing Mwalimu Nyerere’s absolute determination to do so, and presumably having been convinced by his reasons for wanting to do so, the meeting unanimously agreed to his proposal for resignation. But immediately thereafter, so the record says, members were not in a mood to continue with the remaining items on the agenda, and decided to adjourn the meeting to a later date.

Regarding this matter of his resignation from the Premiership, Mwalimu Nyerere himself said the following, in a press statement issued on January 22nd,1962: “Today, I relinquished my position as Prime Minister of Tanganyika, in order to undertake a new task of, that of building a new TANU, namely a TANU re-shaped in order to meet the new circumstances of independent Tanganyika.

But before doing so , I myself selected a new team of Ministers with Mr. Kawawa at its head. . . I am glad I have won the support of my colleagues for taking this action, albeit after a long debate which has taken several days. I know that this will come to many of you as a shock ,and might even cause some of you to misunderstand the significance of this step. But we do believe that we must work out our own pattern of democracy, and that the step which I announced today is the best way to proceed”.

Having thus drawn attention to that bit of our history, we will now return to the main theme of this article, namely, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Arusha Declaration.

The Arusha Declaration.

This was the blue print for the socialist development of our country.It was launched on 5th February, 1967, when the ruling Party, TANU, formally unveiled its policy document titled “TANU’s policy of Socialism and Selfreliance” This document is what defined much more clearly, TANU’s incipient ideology of Ujamaa.

It was closely followed by a series of other publications (most of which were written personally by Mwalimu Nyerere himself), which explained in greater detail the meaning of the Ujamaa concept, and its application to the various sectors of the country’s social and economic development programme.

Such documents included: “Ujamaa Vijijini” (Rural Socialist development); “Elimu ya Kujitegemea” (Education for Self- reliance); “Siasa ni Kilimo” (Guidelines on socialist Agricultural development); and “Sera ya Viwanda vidogo vidogo’ (Guidelines on small scale industrial development).

In view of the length of time that has elapsed since its adoption in 1967, and also because of the prevailing general presumption that the Arusha Declaration ‘was killed in Zanzibar’; plus the fact that the document itself is no longer readily accessible (presumably because of its having been demoted to the archives); a large number of Tanzanians of the current generation are most probably unaware of its contents.

It might therefore be helpful to them, and to many others, to reproduce here a brief summary of the main contents of the Arusha Declaration. That is what has been done in the paragraphs which follow here below.

The Arusha Declaration document.The Arusha Declaration document is presented in five parts, as follows:-


The first Part of the Arusha Declaration document (pages 1 – 4) is what declares ‘Ujamaa’ to be the official ideology of TANU, and proceeds to recite the seven principles of Ujamaa, which are appropriately listed therein.


The second Part of the Arusha Declaration document (pages 5 to 8) is indeed the key section, which clearly defines, and elaborates, TANU’s Ujamaa ideology, as follows:- (a) There is no exploitation. In a mature socialist society, everyone is a working person, and there is no capitalism or feudalism.

Its people are not divided into a lower class of working people, and an upper class of those who depend on the labour of others. In other words, there is no exploitation of any one person by another, for everyone who. has the capability to work, does actually work, and is entitled to a just return for his labour.

Furthermore, there is no significant difference between in the incomes of all categories of workers. In a socialist society, the only people who may justifiably depend on the work of others are the young children, the old, and the disabled people.

It should however be noted that although ours is a country of workers and peasants, it is not yet a socialist society, for it still practices the principles of capitalism and feudalism. And if they remain unchecked, these practices can become firmly established. (b) The major means of production are controlled by the State The only guarantee for genuine socialist transformation is for the State to take effective control, or ownership, of all the major means of production.

(the document then lists the major means of production which are intended to be covered). (c) There is democracy But a country does not become socialist simply because its major means of production are controlled by the State.

The State itself must be governed by a democratically elected Government. (d)Socialism is a matter of faith However, socialism cannot just establish itself, because it is really a question of faith. It can only be established and maintained by people who have complete faith in the efficacy of this system.

III The whole of the third Part of the Arusha Declaration Document (pages 9 to 36) is devoted to explaining TANU’s policy of Self- Reliance (Kujitegemea); which is discussed under the following sub-headings: (i) That we are waging a war; (ii) That money is not the poor man’s weapon for waging such war; and (iii) That loans and grants could jeopardize our freedom. This is actually the major section of the Arusha Declaration document, and concludes with the solemn promise that “From now on, we will stand on our own feet, and we will walk with our own feet, instead of taking an upside down position”. PART IV Part Iv of the Arusha Declaration document (page 37), spells out new requirements for TANU’s membership.

It starts by recalling that “right from the time of its establishment, TANU has always placed a great deal of emphasis on having as great a number of members as possible. This, indeed, was absolutely necessary for waging the war against colonialism. But the time is now appropriate for the greatest emphasis to be put on the ideological quality of our members, and their commitment to Ujamaa. PARTV This is the last of the five parts of the Arusha Declaration document. (pages 38 to 40).

The heading of this last Part of the document is what carries the title of the whole document, for it is written in Kiswahili as “Azimio la Arusha”. But the correct rendering of that heading in English would be “Arusha Resolution” .

This is because it prescribes the ‘code of ethics’, which was designed to be observed by all leaders of TANU, and was procedurally adopted by way of a formal resolution. Because of limited space which is allocated for this column, we will reserve for next Thursday, the discussion on the point that the Arusha Declation was actually not ‘killed’ in Zanzibar as is commonly alleged, but was only put in abeyance.

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