Socialism or Not, Tanzania’s Problem Is Essentially Not One of Ideology

Much of the criticism towards CCM is not based on the ideology but more so on poor or weak policy implementation, inefficiency and corruption.
John Kitoka22 December 20223 min

On December 10, 2022, while in Washington D.C., the national chairperson of CHADEMA Mr Freeman Mbowe met and spoke to some members of the Tanzanian diaspora living in the U.S.

Mr Mbowe was primarily in the U.S. to attend another meeting of the International Democrat Union (IDU), a global umbrella alliance of the centre to right political parties in the world, to which CHADEMA is a member.

READ MORE: Mbowe Elected Co-chairperson of the Democrat Union of Africa

In his speech, Mbowe spoke at length on a myriad of important topical issues that his party and Tanzania are being contended with and that need to be addressed.

They include, but not limited to, the constitution-making process, CHADEMA’s ongoing negotiations with the government and the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), hiking commodity prices etcetera.

In his remarks, Mbowe also reiterated his and CHADEMA’s ideological position, stating that they do not believe in socialism.

He attributes many of Tanzania’s socio-economic ills and suffering to entirely Nyerere’s variant of socialism, with all its attendant economic policies.

READ MORE: How Not To Read Mwalimu

In other words, Mbowe presupposes his party’s subscription to the neo-liberal ideological and philosophical foundations.

Not one of ideology

Socialism or not, I just want to point out that our problem as a country is essentially not one of ideology.

If you look at all the active political parties in the country, including CCM, there is basically no fine line of difference between the ideologies they pursue.

The difference is in the details of the policies they implement or intend to implement. For instance, even as CCM claim itself to be a socialist party, its policies and practices are principally liberal in nature and form.

As a matter of fact, those criticizing CCM for our country’s economic failures are doing so not on the basis of ideology, but more so on the basis of poor or weak policy implementation, inefficiency and corruption.

Despite all the criticisms levelled against socialism as an ideological tradition, it is not without its merits that are fundamentally central to improving human conditions.

As modern socialists will have it, socialism is defined to be a hope for human freedom and justice under the unprecedented conditions of life that humanity will face in the centuries to come.

READ MORE: Marking Nyerere’s Centennial: Reflecting the Relevance of Self-Reliance Policy Today

Historically, socialism as a tradition emerged as a reaction to liberalism during the times of the industrial revolution. Their histories are intertwined.

Suffice it to suggest though that, many political parties globally, are not ideologically what they were originally founded upon. Both the left- and right-wing parties are moving to the centre.

They are reconciling their ideological positions to suit the growing socio-economic and political demands of our time.

A hybrid of policy

CHADEMA’s economic policies cannot afford to be entirely liberal if they are to be relevant alternative tools for raising the country’s economic fortunes and people’s quality of life.

There has to be a hybrid of policy practices and traditions born of all the available ideological inclinations ever designed by man.

Even among staunch liberal enthusiasts, for instance, state intervention and involvement in some development projects are still very much key.

Many IDU founding members have made significant shifts and strides towards the centre of the ideological aisle.

Or was it not George Bush Jr who, during his campaign for president in 1998, declared Compassionate Conservatism as a new form and norm for the Republican Party?

I understand a good number of CHADEMA members who are in the party not essentially because of its ideological positions, but rather using it as an alternative platform to champion their case for social and economic justice for all.

CHADEMA, I’d say, needs to carefully assess, acknowledge and eventually reconcile these positions through an open and honest debate among its members.

John Kitoka is a Dar es Salaam-based analyst of international affairs. He can be reached on +255 755 622697 or kitoka2000@gmail.com. These are the writer’s own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of The Chanzo Initiative. Do you want to publish in this space? Contact our editors at editor@thechanzo.com for further inquiries.

John Kitoka

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