New Constitution creates high excitement amongst Tanzanians – Isack Danford


After the Constitutional Review Commission unveiled the first draft of the new constitution, expectations among millions of Tanzanians are high. Tanzanians raised several issues to be changed or instituted by the new mother law since the commission started to collect views in July, 2012.

The most common view was the ushering in of new era where emphasis will be put on the protection of personal and civil liberties, human rights, right to information and association and religious freedom. It will also be an era where political maturity and democracy are nurtured and where private enterprise and rights to ownership of property are promoted and protected.

The people also expect the new  law to help steer Tanzania steadily in the ongoing transition to political pluralism. It will lead the country from a centrally planned economy to a private sector-led economy and into economic independence, resulting in useful, beneficial and prudent exploitation of the abundance of natural resources.

“We want the new constitution to spell out clearly that Tanzania is a capitalist state and it is following the liberal economy policies,” the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) executive director, Mr Godfrey Simbeye, emphasized in January during a private sector stakeholders’ meeting that aimed at collecting views on the envisaged constitution.

The current constitution states that Tanzania is a socialist country that follows ‘Ujamaa’ policies. This is a contradiction, because the actual economic policies are more capitalist than socialist. Analysts say confusion on what economic policies the country is pursuing shows the country is still in an economic transition; testing the waters of capitalism, while still nurturing sentiments of socialism.

Tanzania’s main opposition party, Chadema, said in a posting on its official blog that it has received credible reports from its sources that the clause within the present constitution which states that “Tanzania is a socialist country that follows ‘Ujamaa’ and Self-reliance policies” has been changed to “Tanzania is a democratic and self-reliant country.”

Many years of socialism have produced lame ducks of Tanzanians in as far as doing business aggressively is concerned. Because of this fact Tanzanians cannot take advantage of and benefit from the enlarged market of East Africa. It is argued that other members of the common market, in particular Kenya, who have been living under a capitalist system, are better placed to take advantage of the enlarged market.

It is certainly not easy to refute this contention because to a large extent it is true that many years of socialist economic policies must have had an impact on the way a number of Tanzanians think about entrepreneurial activities. The relaxation of the leadership code and the introduction of the market economy that started in the early 1990s have resulted in Tanzania paying lip service to socialism. The socialism that was practiced during its hay days is today to be found in the books that were written by First President Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere.

It is difficult to say whether the absence of a clear definition of the current economic system is responsible for the way things are happening or not. But  the young generation must be taught entrepreneurship which is the only legal way of acquiring wealth. Entrepreneurship at an individual level is the hallmark of a capitalist economic system, but it is a bane under the socialist economic system that was followed by this country up to the 1990s.

Entrepreneurship is not the hallmark of the current socialist economic system because it is not taught. The current socialist economic system has not been defined to include the training of young Tanzanians to become capitalists. It is my hope that the coming national debate on the new constitution will see Tanzanians calling for a clearly defined free market economic system.

In line with such high expectations, the Tanzanian Students For Liberty (TSFL) will reach out to university and college students in Tanzania and introduce them to the principles of liberty; namely economic freedom, social freedom and intellectual freedom. I believe this is just the beginning of a much more prosperous and peaceful Tanzania in the near future initiated and perpetuated by the youths of this nation.


This article was first published on the Students For Liberty site

[photo: SFL]

Young libertarians at the 2011 African Liberty’s seminar on Morality and Capitalism at the University of Dodoma (pictured)