The Relevance of Marxism Today

East Africa has been, for a long time, entangled in ideological identities. These have been to both extremes, Marxism and Liberalism. This is what has been called capitalism and socialism in other words. In the words of East African, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere from Tanzania, a liberalist state (Kenya) that was capitalist in nature is a ‘man eat man society’.
On the other hand, another great East African, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta from Kenya called socialism in Tanzania as ‘man eat nothing’ society. These have been the wars that have been in play since independence. For a better understanding of the relevance of the contemporary state structure in East Africa, that is in the context of Marxian and liberal state, we shall narrow our discussion down to Tanzania.
Tanganyika gained independence on 9th December 1961 while Zanzibar gained its independence on 10th December 1963. This was after a long period of struggle. This was the period in which many countries were in the process of getting their independence back. The two countries (Tanganyika and Zanzibar) joined to form the United Republic of Tanzania on 26th April 1964. Tanzania began its self-rule. This included a running government with political elite to run the affairs of the government.

The country was run with a lot a lot of colonial structures in the air. These included unequal distribution of resources, the country’s economy was largely underdeveloped, there was terrible uneven access and distribution of social amenities, the exploitation of resources was at a devastating level not to mention the country’s utter dependence on foreign aid. These leaders adopted systems of governance that were capitalist in nature, they borrowed a lot from the Germany East Africa Company and the Imperial British East Africa Company.
It should also be mentioned that in the capitalist colonial system, whatever was produced during the colonial time, was meant for the Europeans, their stomachs, economy and industries. The colonies were left for the dogs, nothing. And the colonial political and economic systems and structures did not shadow the pre-colonial systems, they shelved all of it and did it their way.
The visible characteristics of the liberal capitalistic characteristics included private ownership of property which led to a very radical increase in inequality in the country. This saw the elite amerce lots of wealth. This is what led to an emergence of a class in Tanzania called Wabenzi, these were the rich people mostly in top government positions that were often seen driving Mercedes Benz cars(Mercedes Benz cars have for a long time been considered a luxury class vehicle for the rich).
The inequality was real. Another characteristic of the liberal state that Tanzania was at independence was the universality of the human rights. All Tanzanians had the right to life and protection of their property. This was done by the remittance of taxes to the state. Also, the economy was capitalist in nature, this was again characterized by the private ownership of property, the society was full of selfish individuals. The rich would continue getting rich and the poor would continue wallowing in their poverty.
Mwalimu looked at the country and saw the tendencies that were fast growing in Tanzania and he did not like it. The class stratification had started creating disunity in the country and that was not really why they all fought for independence as they did. This was not the Tanzania Nyerere wanted and that which he had envisioned. The ruling class was enriching themselves at the expense of the larger majority who were suffering.
It was on this basis that Mwalimu Julius Nyerere introduced Socialism. He believed that through socialism, an equal yet better life was almost guaranteed. Socialism was aimed at eliminating and doing away with those characters. It was necessary to restructure and redefine Tanzania in a way that would accommodate all without discrimination. Its major goal was to form a self-reliant, classless society where people would enjoy the resources equally.
This would be achieved through a document titled the Arusha Declaration of 1967. This was the document in which the ideals of the state were stipulated and was endorsed by TANU. The principles of the Tanzanian socialism were integrated in the constitution of United Republic of Tanzania as well as the constitution of the Tanganyika African National Union(TANU).
Some of the principles included the equality among all humans, every individual had the right to receive from society the protection of life and their property held according to law, also; every individual had the right to receive a just return for their labor, it also stated that in order to ensure economic justice, the state had effective control over the principal means of productionamong others.
The socialism in Tanzania was covered in an outfit called Ujamaa. The people would be organized in villages that would be ‘self-sufficient’. The people would be organized in communes (villages) and they would work communally. This was aimed at making sure the benefits and proceeds were shared communally.
Ujamaa also focused on creating a society that was based on mutual respect, responsibility and cooperation. There would be no exploitation and oppression of man by another man. All members would have equal rights and opportunities just as equally. The whole idea was to maximize wealth and opportunity while minimizing human suffering and inequality.
The Marxian system, Ujamaa would be executed in a number of ways. These were laid down in the Arusha Declaration of 1967. First, it would be through a leadership code that would be clearly laid down. That is democracy and all its principles in place. The other methods would be through adopting of policies like Ujamaa, villagization, one-party state and above all, a system of self-reliance.
Private properties and enterprises would be nationalized and socialized and the government would become the only controller of all the major means of production in Tanzania. The government would be the organ that would organize the society in all aspects, economically, politically and socially. The one-party system was fully executed in 1975 when TANU became the only party in Tanzania in 1975.
Still in the execution, TANU had had National Executive Committee in 1967 and passed some resolutions over leaders. They resolved that no member or leader of TANU would be associated with capitalist tendencies or the feudal system by extension. They also were resolute that at no given point a member would hold shares in a company or hold any dictatorial positions in companies that were owned by private entities, it was also prohibited to received salary more than once and it was against the TANU resolutions that a member or leader would have house to let or from which they collected rent.
It was also reached that since socialism was a belief, it was to be instilled into the members by the party leaders. Its success largely depended on the leadership because all the citizen of United Republic of Tanzania were members of TANU.
The Marxian state structure that was in Tanzania also, through TANU was of the belief that Marxian states never had two classes. They were all equal. There was no upper or lower class. They also believed that the socialist government had to be democratic and therefore democratically elected and since it was democratically elected, the socialist government controls the resources and because of that they would believe that it was the people themselves that would control the resources.Ujamaa would focus on people, land, good policies and good leadership.The means of production was land and the basis of development and indeed economic development would be agriculture.
Ujamaa was fairly successful. Private properties were nationalized and the government became the only and sole funder and producer of goods and services. The access and distribution of social services was commendable.Education became free from the kindergarten level to university. This boosted literacy level from a dwindling 25% to an impressive 60%. Through this, Tanzania was able to dismiss classes that germinated from colonialism. This created unity that has since never been broken by any social creation. Ujamaa was also successful in that it was able to build society in a way that no country has been able to.
The unity in the country is now desirable and Mwalimu Nyerere instilled virtues that are still in existence in the country to date. It must also be noted that the transition of power in Tanzania has been fairly smooth and no significant violence has been recorded in the country over politics. This is because Mwalimu, in his lessons on Ujamaa, taught the citizens to live with one another and love the other as their own. Ujamaa created a society that really embraced brotherhood and the sense of humanity was inherently in them.
That is still evident in Tanzania. In addition, Tanzania is made up of many ethnic communities just like its neighboring countries like Kenya; however, the ethnic communities have coexisted harmoniously for all the years. The opposite is seen in Kenya, Burundi and even Rwanda that only has two tribe. This is indeed the hallmark of Ujamaa and the Marxian state as a whole.
However, the Marxism in Tanzania ran into economic challenges. The challenge was with the communal farming. With the increase in population, the food started reducing and this started to introduce challenges of the regime. This saw the country even import maize from other countries from 1973. Thereafter, more economic challenges followed including the oil crisis of the mid 70’s. it was around this time the Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party was formed, the CCM, 1977 to be precise.
CCM was to be the common party in the mainland Tanzania and the island, Zanzibar. It was formed in a time when Marxism in the country was facing immense challenges and the whole idea of one means of production was becoming untenable.That notwithstanding CCM carried on with the beliefs and ideals of TANU; self-reliance and socialism.
In 1982, they introduced the National Economic Survival Programme (NESP) that was aimed at addressing economic challenges that the country was facing at that time. This program did not work as the production the ujamaa villages was very low. They had no choice but seek help from the international monetary organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Unfortunately for Tanzania and their socialism, these institutions had conditions to be met before they agreed to meet their demands.
These conditions are called structural adjustment programs (SAPs). Among them was to accept liberalist approaches. These including a free market economy and free politics. This was not Marxian in any way.The programs rolled out in the 1980’s included privatization od national properties, it would allow for competition in the market; the capitalist way. Liberal state was focused on more of building the person, individual than the society, it praised greed and celebrated inequality, individuals would be more autonomous and production and general trade was for the purpose of surplus which they would call profit.
This put Mwalimu Julius Nyerere off. He decided to step down because he could not betray socialism and what he believed in. He however remained at the chairman of CCM till 1990 when he stepped down.It is after this that Tanzania, under President Hassan Mwinyi acceptedthe above capitalist liberal ideology. Consequently, in 1992, Zanzibar rejected the Arusha Declaration citing inconsistency.This is how Tanzania slipped back into being a liberal state.
The Marxian state structure in Tanzania failed because of a number of reasons. First, the people did not believe in the ideology. It was imposed on them without much of civic education and some leaders sabotaged the process. This saw some villages get burned so as to prove that Ujamaa failed. Also, the idea was very ambitious, this was also coupled with a group of non-committed and lazy members of the government that would see Marxian structures die a natural death. It is also important to note that Ujamaa would have focused on building villages that lay emphasis on production and cooperation than just cooperation in villages alone.
Currently, Tanzania runs on a liberalist ideology. In the early 2000’s, among the structural adjustment programs was the idea of privatization public companies to individual. This also saw the return of social classes in Tanzania; the upper class and the lower class. This brought back the economic challenge of inequality as well as social inequality. The advantage of the liberal state is the openness to the international market.
Tanzania’s access to foreign aid and external investors regained confidence in the economic viability of the country. The closest example would be the new Kigamboni bridge that connects Tanzania to Mozambique built by the Chinese. This undermines the Ujamaa belief of self-reliance.Liberalism (the liberal state) would kill the laziness of some individuals that hid in the communalism of Ujamaa because they knew the benefits would be shared in the entire village but now they would have to eat from the sweat of each individual.
In conclusion, it is clear that Tanzania has really gone down the roller coaster of political maturity and ideological orientation. This has seen them embrace both the Marxian state structure and the Liberalist state structure. Both ideologies have had their highs and lows and this paper has attempted to demonstrate and illustrate the same.

The Arusha Declaration and TANU’s Policy on Socialism andSelf-Reliance, Adopted by NEC of TANU in January 1967
The CCM Constitution of 1977, May 2005 edition
Green, Reginald herbold (1979) ‘Tanzanian Political EconomyGoals, Strategies, and Results, 1967-1974: Notes Towards anInterim Assessment’ in Bismark U. Mwansasu and CranfordPratt, (eds.), Towards Socialism in Tanzania, Buffalo, Toronto:University of Toronto Press.
Makulio, V.B.,2012, Where is Socialism in Tanzania?,Elixir International Journal, Elixir Soc.Sci.46 (2012) 8170-8180.

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