My thoughts are premised on a revisit to the recording of one of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere which is available on YouTube and has been shared on many forms. It is a speech that the then President of Tanzania gave in regard to his observations of the effect of privatisation of national enterprises.
The question I have posed above is one that should invoke memories of Mwalimu Nyerere’s numerous lectures and submissions about governance and economic emancipation in an African context.
Those who profess to have been astute students of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, unfortunately don’t seem to have followed through with his philosophical views on varying issues including that of governance and economy.
It was only later that we all came to realise that actually the guy had not only sense but also grounded logic in his views.
In many of the discussions that we have had, someone alluded to the so called Structural Adjustment Program that was dictated to us by the Brentwood two giants World Bank and IMF. As a result, we convinced ourselves that government has no business at all in managing or retaining any ownership of any enterprise in the country.
So we off-loaded ourselves of everything through the infamous privatisation and divestiture programs that saw the government scammed of everything including those enterprises and infrastructure undertakings which were considered of strategic nature. Such included the divestiture of Uganda Railways Corporation which we concessioneered to RVR, Uganda Airlines which we disbanded and sold off including its routes and code, Nytil Textiles, Chillington Tools, Nuvita the Drum Ngano miller’s, Uganda Cooperative Transport Union (UCTU) Uganda Bus Transporters (UTC), Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB), Cooperative Bank, Uganda Hotels where various hotels went to individuals while others were simply phased out when they were left for derelict and many more others.
Government of Uganda convinced itself that Uganda’s economic revival and boom can only be brought about and guaranteed by the Private Sector. But as Mwalimu Nyerere juxtaposed his views, what private sector were we handing over the economy to?
The regime of NRM had barely been in government for a few years and there had never been any deliberate effort to nature or nurse the private sector.
In essence we handed over the affairs of the economy to literally a non existent private sector or an ill prepared and incompetent bunch of individuals who were masquerading as private sector.
Of course, we need no Nyerere to come today to tell us that “I told you so”!
The damage done by for example the RVR concessionaire to our railway infrastructure continues to be felt and paid for in terms of the loans that government is having to undertake in order to facilitate the revamping and rehabilitation of that national strategic infrastructure.
Needless to highlight the adverse draw back that the country has equally suffered in many other areas where this dreadful divesisture took place.
With hindsight, it is evident that we ought to have listened to Mwalimu Julius Nyerere then.
Because of the clear ideological path that he had set for his country which his predecessors have also followed over years even after his demise, Tanzania today is reaping tremendous both economic and political benefits.
Tanzania is now recorded as the fastest growing economy in the region. This good exciting story is not only in book figures but it is a story that is evident and displayed in the dynamic economic changes that are being witnessed in the country.
Their peculiar democracy anchored on peaceful transition and change of leadership is entrenched and has fostered investors confidence in the country while solidifying peace and harmony among its people.
Although things are definitely not yet at the level where every Tanzanian is happy, they certainly exude hope and trust that their future can only get better.
This is indeed something that much of the region must be both envious and proud of simultaneously.
The rest of the region must be envious because a period of 60 years since much of the region got the so called independence, Tanzania is the only one country where no civil and political strifes have engulfed and devastatingly consumed the hope and future of the people.
The region has to be proud of Tanzania because amidst all the previous mockeries and scorn that were poured on this country, Tanzania has emerged to be a real beckon of economic progress and a political dispensation that has assured peace, stability and harmony to her citizenry.
After a long period of concerted efforts to nature and nurse the private sector, Tanzania can now boast of a vibrant flourishing private sector but where the key national strategic enterprises and infrastructure continue to remain jealously in the armpit of the state.
Well, one concluding lesson the rest of the region can take from this is that it pays to listen and not jump to the neo colonial tunes that our former colonial masters usually trumpet.
To borrow the sentiments of our renown Pan Africanist, Prof. PLO, neo colonialism is well and alive, one has just to stay awake constantly in order not to fall prey to its daily overtures.