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Development Policy Management Forum (DPMF)

Globalisation and democratic governance in Tanzania1

Chachage Seithy L. Chachage2

Development Policy Management Forum (DPMF)


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In Lieu of an Introduction

Tanzania has been preoccupied with heated debates about democracy since late 1970s. But presentiment of issues about democratisation in Tanzania is today often done as if these issues started with the emergence of multiparty system in the early 1990s, when the euphoria of globalisation was at its zenith. Given such a historical amnesia, the debates on democracy have been generating more heat than light. They are not anchored in the foundations of struggles for popular democracy. That is those struggles rooted in the quest for social justice, equitable development and the whole question of control of productive and reproductive resources within attempts to build a humane society. In some instances, the pundits of multiparty and liberal democracy in general seem to even morally rehabilitate colonialism and imperialism, for example, by making claims that at independence, the country inherited a multiparty political system with an independent parliament and autonomous vibrant civil organizations.3

In this regard, I would like to state categorically from the outset that the so called ‘globalised’ world, which is so-much espoused today is nothing more than a false universalism of the West. It is nothing more than one of those periodic outbursts of intellectual and popular fashions and fads, pregnant with euphemisms that are taken for granted. In this era, neo-colonialism is dubbed “globalisation” and exploiters are crowned the cap of “investors” or better still called, “the vital force of our nations”. The past notions that extolled the virtues of the producing classes and the alliances in the process of history making have been replaced by those of the “partnership between the state, donors, private sector and NGOs”. A company or institution which fires its workers is “downsizing”, “retrenching” or “slimming” (supposedly sports like since a healthy body is supposed to be thin). And sacking workers is supposed to be a “bold move”, given the new economics, which dictate that either you “compete or you go under”. Selling of public and national rights in the form of privatisation is “injecting sound economic policies”: it is “flexibility” or “deregulation”. The unemployed are said to be in the “informal sector”.

  1. Paper presented at the Conference on “The Challenges of Globalization to Democratic Governance in Africa: What Role for the Civil Society”, 2nd-5th December 2002, Addis Ababa.
  2. Department of Sociology, University of Dar es Salaam.
  3. See for example, in Tanzania Election Monitoring Committee (TEMCO), The 1995 General Elections in Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, 1997; also R. Meena, “The State and Civil Society in Tanzania: The State of Art”, in REDET, Political Culture and Popular Participation in Tanzania, REDET and Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, 1997, p. 34. The Tanzania Election Monitoring Committee’s (TEMCO) report, The 2000 General Elections in Tanzania, Dar es salaam University Press, 2001, p. 3, claims that, “Only as colonial officers were departing at decolonization did they attempt to leave a balanced arrangement of power in place. For Tanganyika then, Britain designed a parliamentary system in which the chief executive’s powers could be curtailed both within the executive branch by the presence of the Governor general and the cabinet, and among governmental branches of by parliament through a motion of no confidence in the government. Its possibility of success depended on this formal constitutional arrangement and the existence of a vigorous opposition party.”

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