For those who are closely following the debate on the Draft Constitution in Dodoma will agree with me that the legacy of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere is extremely applied in augmenting the reasons of either proposing or opposing the current structure of our Union, which is a two-government structure vis-à-vis that of three governments.
No doubt that Nyerere and Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume agreed to have a Union of its kind in the world – a Union of two governments, whereby one part of the Union would retain almost its autonomy and the other part – Tanganyika went inside the Union government, thus the Union became one of only two governments.
What makes the debate so hot and the most argumentative is the Draft Constitution, which is proposing a three-government system contrary to the current Union system.
Nyerere, who had a privilege of serving this nation for 23 years, was an unexceptional leader in many dimensions, both within and outside the country. Apart from establishing a Union of its kind with Karume,
Nyerere went on to become a Pan-africanist by involving in all struggle movements for the liberation of African countries, which were still under colonialism. Nyerere also acquired international status on the same essence of defending the oppressed everywhere in the world.
Internally, Mwalimu initiated many things meant for social development. For example, in 1967, he established the Arusha Declaration, which a contained a leadership code of ethics and policy of socialism and self-reliance based on African situations. After retiring from public service in 1985, Mwalimu remained an international figure by serving the world in various capacities. For instance, from 1987 to 1990 Mwalimu Nyerere served in the South Commission as its chairman. This was the commission formed by intellectual individuals who were concerned with the development of the countries in the South in contrast to those in the North.
No doubt, Nyerere left behind an unforgettable legacy, both within Tanzania and outside. Why did he achieve much during his life than anybody here in Tanzania? It’s because of his intelligence and integrity. He used his intelligence and talents for common development. Because of his high integrity, he did everything for a common good even where he made mistakes. From his legacy we can boldly say that Mwalimu left behind his own philosophy that we can call today ‘Nyereresm’ from which we can remind ourselves of his words of wisdom and deeds. This is the reason behind why even members of the Constituent Assembly meeting in Dodoma are using his words to support their arguments as they are discussing the Draft Constitution. Others are just abusing him by just paying lip service to him.
However, we should not forget that Nyerere was a human being like us and from my experience I know that even intelligent people make terrible mistakes. Nyerere never claimed infallibility. In fact, he himself confessed to have made mistakes in some decisions and actions he took for more than 23 years.
He urged us to retain good things his government did and correct whatever bad his government did. From these facts, all who are abusing Nyerere now, particularly in debating the Draft Constitution for want of remaining in power, must remember that there are so many initiatives that Nyerere established and those things are no longer with us. Correcting some of the things he did we are not dishonouring his entire legacy, but rather we are putting it in a right perspective.
Those who are using Nyerere to support their arguments on the retention of a two-government system must ask themselves, where is the Arusha Declaration? Where is a monolithic political system? Where are Ujamaa villages? Do we still offer social services freely like Nyerere’s government did? Do we call ourselves ‘ndugu’ today as it was in Nyerere’s time? If we changed or left many things which during Nyerere we embraced such as our ideals why we cannot change the structure of Union for making it even better and bearable? It is amazing to use Mwalimu Nyerere’s legacy only where we want to fit our own interests as a shield against others, but doing it hypocritically.
Many of those who served in the Constitutional Review Commission (Warioba Commission) were old men who served with high integrity in Nyerere’s government. These men like Warioba himself, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, Joseph Butiku, just to mention a few, knew Nyerere more than many young people in the Constituent Assembly, who are insulting Warioba and his fellow members. Mr Warioba by agreeing with others in proposing a different structure of the Union did not do that simply because he does not like the Union or his party (CCM). He did so through a consensus on grounds that the current structure of Union is not maintainable.
The government of President Kikwete and CCM know beyond doubt that the root cause of all Union miscarriages is its structure. This has been proved beyond doubt through many commission reports that if we want to maintain our Union, there is no way we can avoid a three-government system. All the commissions that came with these recommendations were formed by CCM presidents and had no any wrong intention to betray the President, CCM or their fellow Tanzanians.
Nyerere and Karume were two prominent people who initiated the Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, but today we have been forming commissions on Union issues and hence recommend a different structure of the Union. Are all these commission members enemies of CCM and its government? I do not think so!
Let’s use Nyerere’s legacy honestly, but not hypocritically, knowing that Nyerere was human being who might make mistakes like anybody, and it is our responsibility today to genuinely correct the mistakes he and his government did even if with good intention. We should always consider that reaching a consensus needs appreciation of the facts and not mob psychology.