Welcome to my review of Book 3 of Development As Rebellion (A Nyerere Biography) written by Issa Shivji, Saida Yahya-Othman and Ng’wanza Kamata and published by Mkuki na Nyota.
Almost the entirety of the book covers Tanzania’s enter into Ujamaa (Nyerere’s brand of socialism) through the Arusha Declaration all the way to Tanzania entering the feee market under Mwinyi through the Zanzibar Declaration.
However, so much has been written about Ujamaa that I want to focus on a small segment of the book which deals with the G55 and the case for the re-establishemt of the Tanganyika government. The reasons I choose to deal with this in particular is because 1) It is almost a taboo to speak of a Tanganyika government 2)As recent as 2014 we had a draft constitution proposal which recommended the formation of a Tangayika government and 3)My recent read of a book by Njely Kasaka titled Maisha, Siasa na Hoja ya Tangayika which explored the 1993 push to have a Tangayikan government.
Quite frankly, I believe the only reason the Tanganyika issue has been a taboo is because Nyerere for a long time up to his dying days made it a sin to even utter the word Tangayika. “He was meeting the group of 55 and told them bluntly that they were driven more by hate than a principled position; that the Tangayika they demanded would not solve the problems of curruption, poverty, development and disregard of the constitution.” (Development As Rebellion, 393, Book 3). Now I don’t know if Nyerere genuinely thought that the G55 were driven by hatred or if it was just Nyerere’s political manouvering to try and sore division among politicians so that the process fell through. It is important however to note that Njelu Kasaka, one of the leaders of the G55 vehemently denies this claim in his own book. Nyerere was so adamant about the two government policy that Nyerere himself even stated that, “I am ready to resign from this Party or from any other party that introduces a Tanganyika Government” (Development As Rebellion, page 394, Book 3).
To understand Nyerere’s strict adherence to the 2 government structure, it is important to revesit Book 2 of the series to the origins of the Union. One reason could be is that it is Tanganyika which asked Zanzibar for the Union and it is Nyerere who had to convince a sceptical Karume to allow the two countries to unite. As we see in Book 2, only a month before the Union, Karume was less than excited about the possibility (Development As Rebellion, page 185, Book 2). Hence it is fair to say that it was deemed important on Nyerere’s side to maintain Zanzibar’s identity so as to not seem as though they had been swallowed up by the larger Tangayika. In deed during the early days of the Union Karume and other Zanzibari leaders made it clear that they should not be seen as surbodinate to Tanganyika and even one of the leaders at that time came out and “…said that the Tangayikans were wasting their “time coming to Zanzibar to ty and tell us what to do…”(Developmet As Rebellion, page 188, Book 2). Hence it may have been Nyerere’s view that having a Tanganyikan government would be counterintuitive as it would pit the Tangayika Government (with the larger economy, geography and population) vs the Zanzibari Government. That fear is not completely unfounded.
Another reason that Nyerere was against the formation of a Tanganyikan Government was that he felt that this was much to do about nothing and that it was politicians looking out for their own selfish interestes rather than a genuine wish by the people at that time. In deed an internal poll of CCM members at that time where 38% of its 3.5 million members participated, 62 were in favour of two governments, 29% for 1 government and 8% for three (Development As Rebellion, page 396, Book 3). My question however would be 1)Why poll only CCM members who knew that 2 governments was the party policy and 2)Why weren’t they comfortable enough to poll the general population?
With all of the above in mind, no people should be a prisoner of the past or past decisions. It is not beyond reproach for citizens to ponder and debate over what kind of Union they see best fits the current environment. In deed just a few years ago Jakaya Kikwete appointed a Consitutional Review Commision under Warioba which ironically recommended a three government Union. In the 1990s two Commions reccomended the establishement of a Tangayika Government (“Shelukindo Commision" and “Nyalali Commision"). Unfortunately just like in the 1990s, the general public never had the opportunity to vote on a referendum. It is no accident that all comissions formed regarding the structure of the Union recommend for a Tangayika Government and it is probably very telling that no administration has ever been confident enough to put the matter to a people’s vote. Even the book states that during the time of the G55 “The possibility of a referendum sent shivers down ths governments spine.” (Development As Rebellion, page 392, Book 3).
My personal view is that a single government structure would have been the best option. But as we all know Zanzibaris, and righfully so, would never allow for the dismantling of their government. A two government structure is the second best structure BUT only to the extent that all citizens are content with the arrangement. It is important to hear from all sides of the argument and try and reach a national consensus. The powers that be might be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Even Scotland in 2014 were allowed to vote on whether to stay on as part of the United Kingdom or not (this is just as an example and I am in no way recommending for a referendum on whether to breakup the Union or not) and the Scottish people voted to stay, putting the issue to rest once and for all.
I do hope that one day the issue of the Union structure will no longer be taboo so that both citizens and policy makers alike can have a healthy discussion on the matter. I certainly believe that the Union can be improved to become even better and more beneficial to Tanzanians but that can never happen without first having a discussion on it. I am sure those of us who agree on a two government structure are intelligent enough to defend it and win over any sceptics. For farther reading on the G55 and the case for Tangayika I do recommend Njelu Kasaka’s book which goes indepth to discuss the matter through the eyes of the G55. I also reccoment reading on The Shelukindo Commision and Nyalali Commission. I do with this part of the book was its own chapter but then again every segment of the book could have been its own chapter and the authors had to make a choice.
This is my final review of the Development As Rebellion series. I absolutely enjoyed it. It has given me a better understanding of Nyerere in particular and of Tanzania in general. It has shattered my preconcieved notions and provoked me to think beyond my initial comprehension. I hope that more such biographies of our other presidents will be written in the near future. I highly recommend this book to every Tanzanian ciziten and to anyone who wants to have a better understanding of where we are, where we came from, and where we could be heading.
Thomas J. Kibwana