Visions of Tanzanian Socialism

Tanzania's attempt to build socialism under Julius Nyerere failed. But it remains an animating force for egalitarian demands today.

Julius Nyerere with Fidel Castro and a Cuban worker in 1977. Julius Nyerere Archives

Can the past offer a guide to a better future?

The 1977 constitution of the East African coastal nation of Tanzania might suggest so. Its purpose, it proclaims,

is to facilitate the building of . . . a nation of equal and free individuals enjoying freedom, justice, fraternity, and concord, through the pursuit of the policy of Socialism and Self Reliance which emphasizes the application of socialist principles.

From there, it sets out a vision of society that uses the country’s resources and wealth to achieve “the eradication of poverty, ignorance, and disease” and avoids the “concentration of wealth or the major means of production in the hands of a few individuals.”

Already before their constitutional codification, these aspirations had made Tanzania the darling especially of an international left eager for an alternative to the actually existing socialism practiced in the Soviet bloc. The humane, harmonious, and democratic outlook of Tanzania’s brand of African socialism espoused by the country’s philosopher-president Julius Nyerere fueled a global outbreak of “Tanzaphilia” that afflicted victims both predictable (Scandinavians) and surprising (the World Bank under Robert McNamara).

Forty years on, contemporary Tanzanian street scenes make it glaringly obvious that the country has strayed far from its constitutional aspirations. For the teenagers in worn-out flip-flops or no footwear at all hawking cheap goods beneath the gleaming new office towers and residential high-rises of Tanzania’s principal city, Dar es Salaam, the eradication of poverty is perhaps more elusive than ever. The city’s crass disparities are a good indication that Tanzania’s political economy has for some time been geared toward increasing, not curbing, the concentration of wealth.

The elections in October were the most recent opportunity for Tanzanians to pass a verdict on this state of affairs. While the country’s socialist era may be long past, it still profoundly shapes the situation Tanzanians are confronted with today and the political choices before them.

Socialism Past

Among some Tanzanians, the status quo has spurred nostalgia for a “better past” — and such sentiments may well tempt outside observers as well. But turning back time may lose its appeal after one takes a hard look at Tanzania’s socialist experience.

There were, to be sure, hopeful beginnings. After leading the country to peaceful independence from Britain in 1961, Julius Nyerere soberly described the moment as an “opportunity that has now to be used” to build a “healthy, educated, and prosperous people.”

He sought a society free from exploitation and energized by a strong sense of solidarity and mutual help. This project’s guiding principle was ujamaa — Swahili for the bond between family members.

Initially, these ideas were fuzzy enough to accommodate a broad politics with few traces of socialism as it is conventionally understood. In the early 1960s, to Nyerere ujamaa socialism was an “attitude of mind,” not yet a political program.

In one respect, however, Tanzanian political practice did take a page out of the book of most governments who governed in the name of socialism: Nyerere’s ruling party rapidly established a monopoly in the political realm and fortified this position by subsuming most associational life under the single-party state. Women, youth, farmers, workers, and the press were all brought into the fold. If diverse rationales underlay these various moves, safeguarding the ruling party’s project of building a society in ujamaa’s image animated and legitimized them all.

By the late 1960s, ujamaa socialism was undergoing a metamorphosis. The famous 1967 Arusha Declaration marked the transition from a “state of mind” to a political action program.

In keeping with the declaration’s anti-privilege ethos, politicians and civil servants accepted dramatic cuts to their salaries and perks, and a set of “leadership conditions” barred them from engaging in economic ventures of any kind. Most key sectors of the economy — industrial interests, banks, trading operations, rental-housing stock — were nationalized. And an ambitious plan envisioned that resettling rural Tanzanians in ujamaa villages would bring services and prosperity to the rural areas.

A 1971 Tanzanian newspaper story conjured the iconic image of ujamaa socialism. Away from the bustle of the big city, “President Nyerere . . . joined peasants of the newly established Chamwino Ujamaa village in Dodoma District in making bricks for their buildings.”

A few days later, the same newspaper observed the district’s people emerging “from their clusters isolated by miles of arid and hostile thorny bushland” as they “realized the wisdom of President Nyerere that only in living together and working together for the benefit of all lies the salvation of this country.” Nyerere, parting the thorny bush for his people, was leading them to ujamaa’s shining village on a hill.

That Chamwino was a showcase project should not detract from what was being showcased. With his presidential spotlight, Nyerere directed the country’s attention toward those isolated places so often forgotten by ruling elites. Given the overwhelmingly rural and agrarian makeup of the country and its economy, this shift was itself hugely consequential.

The image’s more minor details also carried significance. Shipping in a few truckloads of bricks for the occasion and having the president cut a ribbon would have made for an easier and more conventional photo op (Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme opened the village’s community center a few months later more or less following that script).

By contrast, Nyerere’s physical labor — “building the nation shoulder-to-shoulder,” as Tanzanians liked to put it, with the common people — was more than a publicity stunt mixed with a spatter of political patronage. It was a distillation of ujamaa, exemplifying egalitarian solidarity, reliance on Tanzania’s own resources, and hard work for the common good.

But this official image hid a much less sunny side of Tanzanian socialism. Nyerere thought ujamaa villages would be a real draw for the country’s dispersed population. Once rural Tanzanians saw that coming together in such villages would allow the government to provide services and facilitate communal and cooperative cultivation, the thinking went, they would move voluntarily.

Yet years of patient explaining failed to deliver broad popular buy-in. The exceptional amenities at Chamwino may have enticed its new residents, but elsewhere in the country promises of support and exhortations to follow unproven economic strategies — that indeed often turned out to be impractical or were fatally undercut by administrative blunders — didn’t convince people to pull up roots and move.

Thus, Tanzania’s political leadership — which believed it had discovered the winning formula in the country’s war against poverty, ignorance, and disease — confronted the paradoxical problem of resistance from its plans’ ostensible beneficiaries.

In response, Nyerere’s government began applying pressure on rural populations — for instance, by withholding famine relief during a drought to anyone residing outside officially recognized ujamaa village sites — to get them to move. Pressured to show progress, local authorities resorted to yet more coercive methods — in some cases even moving people at gunpoint and destroying their homes to ensure they couldn’t return.

Those being kicked around “for their own good” rarely wonder whether the ends justify the means — which, of course, already implies a straightforward answer to the question. But even from a purely economic viewpoint, Tanzania’s socialist strategy yielded few lasting successes.

By 1976, the “villagization” program had managed to concentrate the vast majority of the country’s rural population in roughly eight thousand villages, but a far smaller number of sites had safe and sufficient water supplies. Nyerere met his goal of constructing more schools — often through “self-help” initiatives — but the education system’s rapid expansion during the late 1970s severely compromised teaching quality. By the 1980s, the government’s inability to pay its bills reversed the trend of broadened access.

Agricultural production figures were poor for most of the socialist period. While such figures are notoriously unreliable and affected by factors other than government policy, villagization and state control of agricultural markets and prices had much to do with the middling performance.

Food imports and aid shipments jumped in the 1970s. The agricultural extension service was hopelessly overstretched. There were many stories of fertile land lost to forced moves into overcrowded and poorly situated new settlements. And in many ujamaa villages, demoralized farmers refused to work either privately or collectively.

Other parts of the economy fared poorly as well. A fertilizer factory opened with West German support never reached an economical rate of capacity utilization and ran up huge deficits. An automated bread factory — financed by a Canadian aid project and designed to move the country into processing — was hugely expensive and made little economic sense given Tanzanian markets and factor endowments.

The State Trading Corporation — charged with the importation of a wide spectrum of goods — never seemed to be able to supply what was demanded, when it was demanded, and where it was demanded, despite having had its initial operations structured by consulting firm McKinsey & Company’s high priests of corporate efficiency.

“Obstinate,” “backward,” kicked-around farmers had their counterparts in workers quickly deemed to be strike-happy and insufficiently respectful of workplace authority. Without an organization independent of the single-party state, they were brought to heel.

The story of Tanzanian socialism, then, is the story of both an attractive vision and the authoritarian paternalism that undermined it. The paternalistic notion that authoritarianism is a burden that enlightened leaders may have to shoulder as they pursue a better life for their resisting subjects weaves these two stories into one.

Socialism’s Afterlife

External economic shocks certainly helped push things off the cliff in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But by that time, it had already become clear that Tanzania’s dysfunctional socialist economy had, despite some achievements in service delivery, succeeded primarily in levelling down — often far down — not raising up. Indeed, the economic collapse would have been even worse had a huge parallel, informal, and illicit economy not grown up in the shadow of official structures.

Amid changing political fashions and increasing criticism of Tanzania’s economic regime, international donors — who had kept the ship afloat — began to bail. Their withdrawal undermined the government’s few economic achievements.

While Nyerere railed against the International Monetary Fund, charging it with arrogating for itself the role of an “International Ministry of Finance,” structural adjustment and liberalization were on the way. Stepping down from the presidency in 1985, Nyerere recognized that the tide had turned.

Perhaps surprisingly, significant parts of the political establishment eagerly signed on to the new economic paradigm of liberalization. The practical bankruptcy of the state-directed economy certainly changed some minds and gave rise to a reformist coalition of politicians and policy-thinkers (for the same reason, the broader public shed few tears over the old regime’s demise). But less public-minded considerations were probably as important in advancing and shaping the new order.

A popular re-rendering of the ruling party’s name aptly captured the spirit of the times: Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Party of the Revolution) became Chukua Chako Mapema (Take Yours Early). Indeed, similar to other transitions from socialism, the process in Tanzania yielded neither communism nor a straight reversion to capitalism, but a peculiar form of politico-economic oligarchy.

The structures that Tanzanian socialism left behind continue to underpin and feed this new political constellation. But they also provide a platform from which to challenge it. Thus, socialism extends its reach well past its own demise — life after socialism is still socialism’s afterlife.

Struggles over land — still crucial for a large majority of Tanzanians — illustrate these complicated legacies. Land is regulated by a complex patchwork of legislation that, in key respects, dates back to socialist times. Most land is governed by customary use rights, controlled by and vested in villages (though centrally granted leasehold also exists). But the president has ultimate authority over land  (the minister of energy and minerals also enjoys executive powers when it comes to reserving land for mining).

In the days of ujamaa, this centralized power over land was exercised in the name of the masses (though those displaced and coercively resettled may be forgiven for their lack of appreciation for the sentiment). Today, large numbers of people are still being forced from their land. But though “national development” continues to be invoked, public spiritedness isn’t the motivation.

Massive mining and hunting concessions — conservation cum tourism development efforts — and large commercial farms are the new drivers of expulsion. While the logic of the contemporary struggles over land may be new, they’re profoundly shaped by the political control over economic resources that the socialist legacy has bestowed upon the post-socialist political class. Many have been busy cashing in.

The story of the state-run irrigated rice farm at Kapunga — traced by political economist Elisa Greco and the Tanzanian research and advocacy group HakiArdhi (LandRights) — is instructive. During the waning days of socialism in the mid-1980s, seventy-three families were displaced from an approximately four-thousand-hectare area to make way for the farm. Because production was heavily mechanized, the new venture did not provide much employment in the area (though fringe benefits, such as subsidized fertilizer and smallholder access to marginal estate lands, did trickle down to surrounding communities).

By the late 1990s, production and financial problems had forced a transformation: production had been handed over to tenant farmers, many of whom rented large plots on which they employed wage labor.

When the question of privatizing the farm arose in the mid-2000s, two local proposals were submitted. One, put forward by medium- and small-scale farmers and backed by the local MP (who would soon find herself attacked by a faction of her own party’s national establishment), asked for the land to be redistributed in small parcels; a rival proposal wanted a cooperative of the large-scale farmers who were tenants on the farm to take it over.

Neither prevailed. In an auction (the results of which remain confidential) a politically well-connected Tanzanian investor took the prize — according to rumors, at a bargain price. The investor, the Export Trading Group (ETG), was a large produce trader, not a producer. Thus, it has been acting as a landlord, renting out the estate’s lands to primarily large farmers — just as the parastatal had done before it.

One thing has changed, however: the new landlord’s economic calculus tends to be more hard-nosed. Attempts to increase rents have led to yearlong standoffs, and hundreds of “squatters” on peripheral estate lands have reportedly been violently evicted.

Access to facilities such as a school, housing for teaching staff, roads, and a dispensary has been cut or is being contested. ETG has also claimed that its title covers not just the core area of the irrigated rice farm but also a swath of land that encompasses almost an entire village.

Unsurprisingly, local resentment is fierce. Yet in other quarters ETG and its dealings find considerable support; the World Bank, the Carlyle private equity group, and a South African conglomerate have all lent financial backing.

ETG’s promise to further the national goal of enhancing food security may have helped make it an attractive investment for these institutions. But a 2013 INSEAD business school case study on a proposed private equity investment also stresses another desirable feature. The report approvingly notes — with a nod to the presence of “the local district commissioner, local doctors, and the regional surgeon” among Kapunga’s tenants — that the farm enjoyed “significant downside protection through the political capital and good relations it [had] forged.” Good relations with the people who matter politically, that is.

Kapunga farm is not unique. Similar dynamics of land grabs, often involving transnational capital partnering with or buying off segments of national and local elites, have been playing out across the country.

One of the most notorious cases, documented by anthropologist Siri Lange, concerns a large gold mining concession at Bulyanhulu. The conflict, dating back to the mid-1990s, saw the Tanzanian High Court rule against a large-scale operator in favor of artisanal miners’ customary rights.

But the victory proved short-lived. The Minister of Energy soon issued an eviction order in defiance of the High Court, and thousands of local miners and farmers were forcibly expelled from the area and their settlements razed. The alleged live burial of several dozen artisanal miners made national and international headlines.

In 1999, the world’s largest gold miner, Barrick Gold — which boasted George H. W. Bush and former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney as international advisers — acquired the concession. Bulyanhulu thus came to epitomize the new neoliberal circuitries of Tanzania’s globalized political economy. The country had traveled a very long way indeed since the days when Julius Nyerere was making bricks at Chamwino village and Olof Palme would stop by for a visit.

The resources the ruling party has at its disposal to fend off challenges to this new order have been on full display at Bulyanhulu. In 2001, for instance, Tanzanian lawyers and the most prominent opposition politician in the country were detained and charged with sedition over their demands for an investigation into the alleged deaths of the local miners.

Yet the need to resort to such overt repression also reveals real vulnerabilities. In the 2010 elections, and again in 2015, opposition parties made a popular call to revoke all existing mining contracts. They argued that Tanzania’s mining boom had yielded such paltry royalties that the nation’s wealth had effectively been gifted away, and that the new mining sector had destroyed many more livelihoods than it had created.

People in the mining areas feel betrayed by their government, and Lange reports that “many refer to the country’s first President, Julius Nyerere, who said that the country’s natural resources belong to all Tanzanians.”

This invocation of Nyerere and the egalitarian vision of society he stood for is not an isolated phenomenon. “We are not against development, but as . . . Nyerere said, if real development is to take place, the people have to be involved,” a smallholder stranded on the margins of Kapunga rice farm told Tanzanian investigative journalist Daniel Mbega in 2011.

Try as they might, the new political economy’s profiteers have apparently not managed to void it of the moral arguments that an earlier era infused it with. That Nyerere and the vision of society he stood for are still summoned to combat dispossession and marginalization today suggests a progressive dimension to Tanzanian socialism’s legacy.

Tanzanians talk about their political economy’s morality. And no party or candidate can escape at least proclaiming fealty to certain basic precepts of fairness and inclusiveness that, after all, are still set out in the country’s constitution. That political contests in Tanzania are frequently framed as fights over who is Nyerere’s genuine heir again underscores its persisting appeal.

Although it has won every presidential and parliamentary election since the reintroduction of multi-party democracy in 1995, CCM has not had an easy time making its case in this debate. To be sure, it has presided over the post-socialist revival of growth (depending on which methodology one prefers, income per capita has increased at somewhere between 4 and 7 percent annually over the last decade and a half).

But the fruits of this economic expansion have accrued to the few, not the many. In 1992, 72.6 percent of Tanzanians lived below the World Bank’s poverty line of $1.25. Fifteen years later, despite continuous growth that made Tanzania the object of much boosterism, 67.9 percent of Tanzanians were still impoverished.

The dynamics of post-socialist, liberalized agriculture have much to do with the stubbornly high poverty rate. The 75 percent of Tanzanians who still reside in the rural areas, argues scholar Deborah Bryceson, have by and large found themselves holding the short end of the stick in ongoing processes of “deagrarianization” and “depeasantization.” The dismantling of socialist-era agriculture supports has made lucrative export markets largely inaccessible to small farmers. The result has been a scramble to make ends meet by over-diversifying in agriculture and moving away from it.

Meanwhile, industry, like agriculture, now accounts for about 40 percent less of total economic activity than it did in the 1980s; it is little wonder that it has failed to offer employment opportunities to the many who have moved off the land and to the cities.

In recent years, the government has made some moves to improve the situation: fertilizer subsidies have been reinstituted, and a serious push to revive the moribund school system — in the 1990s and early 2000s, enrollment had declined to around 50 percent — now appears close to achieving universal primary education, last a real policy objective under Nyerere. Cynics see pork-barrel politics in such initiatives, while others are more positive. Regardless, such moves have at best brought marginal improvements.

A long list of “grand corruption” scandals has not helped CCM either. In a 2006 case, a Houston-based company was awarded a contract to ameliorate the blackouts crippling Dar es Salaam. It ended up costing Tanzania upwards of $100 million.

After the company persistently failed to get its generator on line, it was revealed to have no experience or expertise in power generation. The ensuing scandal felled two ministers and Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who took “political responsibility” for the mess.

No corruption charges were ever brought, but Lowassa nonetheless made it onto an ever-expanding “list of shame” of the most corrupt politicians — put out by Willibrod Slaa, leader and 2010 presidential candidate for Tanzania’s strongest opposition party, CHADEMA (Party of Democracy and Development).

So did a number of people implicated in another scandal around the same time. This one involved the fraudulent payment of at least $131 million to CCM-linked businesses from an external payments account at the Bank of Tanzania. Aside from the resignation of two senior figures from CCM’s National Executive Committee and the governor of the bank, political figures again experienced no repercussions.

Choice in Post-Socialism

Against this backdrop one might have expected the opposition be a shoo-in in the 2010 elections. But CCM incumbent Jakaya Kikwete easily prevailed, winning 63 percent to his CHADEMA challenger’s 27 percent. In the legislative election, while the opposition made greater inroads than ever, CCM still garnered almost 80 percent of the directly elected seats.

Nonetheless, the opposition’s showing was credible enough to raise hopes for the October 2015 elections. In the run-up this year, it received a further boost when the most significant opposition parties resolved to coordinate on both a presidential ticket and parliamentary candidates.

CCM remained formidable, though. As the former “single party” of the single-party state, boasting an incumbency that stretches back more than five decades, CCM has deep infrastructural, financial, organizational, and legal resources.

The press and associational life continue to live under the cudgel of the president, who is empowered to wield it in “the national interest.” The historical overlap of state and party also means that government offices in many places double as CCM offices; indeed, CCM owns many of the buildings.

The police are frequently used as a partisan enforcement unit, arresting non-CCM candidates and severely limiting opposition activities during election times. This has been especially blatant on the islands of Zanzibar, where particular political dynamics have made for an especially potent opposition. There, elections have been stolen and accompanied by outright repression. This year is no exception: the electoral commission, appointed by the president, annulled the results shortly after election day, and the security forces have again shown their party colors.

CCM has not just used its incumbency advantages; it has also strategically fortified them when needed. Just in time for the hotly contested 2010 elections, parliament instituted a constituency development fund that gave MPs money for discretionary development projects. Similar budgets were made available for presidentially appointed regional and district commissioners.

In 2014, CCM effectively hijacked a constitutional reform process for similarly self-serving ends when several provisions that would have eroded the party’s authoritarian powers were tabled. It was this move that finally pushed the main opposition parties to unite under the umbrella of UKAWA, the Coalition of the People’s Constitution.

Though the playing field is tilted strongly in CCM’s favor, its ultimate weapon may be the chameleonesque possibilities inherent in the party’s “big tent.” Over the last several decades, there have always been party factions on both sides of key issues. Much as reformists confronted a socialist old guard in the 1980s and early 1990s, there are today enough people in CCM who deplore the machinations of often seemingly dominant parts of the party.

CCM probably can’t be neatly divided into CCM-Safi (CCM-clean) and CCM-Mafisadi (CCM-corrupt), as popular monikers would suggest; important personal and regional networks make for a messier picture.

Nonetheless, outpourings of disgust by CCM parliamentarians in response to reports of various corruption investigations strongly suggest that not all are on the side of a group that, at least until his 2008 ouster as prime minister, centered on Edward Lowassa, popularly known as fisadi (roughly: crook)-in-chief.

As it had done with Lowassa’s ouster before the 2010 elections, CCM again presented some fresh faces for this year’s contest. Having lain low for a few years, Lowassa had invested much energy and — if unproven rumors are to be believed — money in his bid to win CCM’s presidential nomination. This past July, an opaque party-internal selection process returned a different candidate, John Magufuli, an untainted minister of works reputed to be a hard-working, effective, and unflashy politician.

If the intention behind passing over Lowassa was to take the sting out of the opposition’s anticorruption slogans, Magufuli was a good choice. His pledge to establish a special corruption court was clearly designed to drive home that point — and he could pull it off with some credibility.

CCM’s ground game was no less astute: at a local campaign rally this past September, Magufuli pledged that, if elected, he would use his presidential powers to resolve the land conflict at Kapunga in favor of the village on the commercial farm’s periphery.

Similar promises have been made before, making this just the latest attempt to steal the opposition’s thunder. Nonetheless, four weeks before the elections, hopes were again being raised that nine years of living under the threat of eviction might be coming to an end.

When Election Day arrived, CCM carried Kapunga’s constituency, though the presidential and the parliamentary contests were both close calls. The 44 percent for CCM’s parliamentary candidate ended up being enough only because the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT), a new opposition party that remained outside of the UKAWA coalition, had an exceptionally good showing in the constituency, fatally dividing the opposition vote.

Perhaps the 20 percent of local voters who favored ACT had particular reason to be attracted to its pledge to reinstitute the Nyerere-era “leadership conditions,” which had interposed a wall between the political arena and “business.”

But the party’s result was certainly also driven by its candidate’s stature, perhaps in combination with his positions. He was the sitting CCM MP whom CHADEMA had previously courted due to his stance against land investors. When CCM refused to re-nominate him, he defected to CHADEMA. But it did not put him on its ticket either. For him, ACT was a case of third time lucky. CCM, of course, ended up the rejoicing third.

Nationally, the opposition managed to defeat a number of sitting ministers and power brokers in parliamentary races. There were also very significant opposition wins at the local level. But, hamstrung by the first-past-the-post electoral system, it made only an insignificant dent in CCM’s still-overwhelming parliamentary majority.

In the presidential race, CCM’s gamble on Magufuli, who won 58.5 percent of the vote, secured the result it needed. UKAWA’s opposition candidate came in with just under 40 percent — much better than the leading candidate of a divided opposition five years earlier, but still significantly short.

The identity of UKAWA’s candidate surely had something to do with this outcome — on this much both those who count it as an opposition success and those who count it as a defeat will agree.

He was none other than Edward Lowassa. Having failed to win the presidential nomination for CCM, he left the party in late July of this year. By early August, he had maneuvered himself into the top spot on the opposition’s ticket. Slaa, who had put Lowassa on his list of shame, resigned from CHADEMA. The leader of the second most significant opposition party also stepped down.

Attesting to the public’s perception of CCM’s omnipresence and omnipotence, many have explained these events as another case of CCM machinations. Aside from such conspiracy theories, readers’ reactions in newspapers to Lowassa’s candidacy split into two camps.

Some saw a betrayal of everything the opposition claimed to stand for and worried about the likely electoral repercussions, the long-term implications for Tanzania’s constitutional reform process, and the future of the opposition.

Others saw a smart, if opportunistic move. To them, as perhaps to those in UKAWA’s leadership who put him on the ticket, Lowassa’s defection had handed the opposition the chance of a lifetime. His network, means, and stature would surely, finally, level the playing field.

Did Lowassa’s departure from CCM blow a hole into CCM’s network — as some feared and others hoped? Or did it, on the contrary, cleanse the party — or at least its image — when it most needed it?

Did the opposition do as well as it did because it could finally field its own “big man” who arrived at rapturous election rallies in a campaign helicopter? Or did it too eagerly swallow a poisoned bait, losing at least as many supporters as it gained by opportunistically jettisoning the principles of public morality that had energized its campaign?

Beyond such unknowables lies the future. Most immediately, that is, five more years during which Nyerere’s Party of the Revolution may reveal to Tanzanians what kind of revolution it now stands for.

If the last twenty years of post-socialist, multi-party democracy are anything to go by, it will continue to exploit the far-reaching structural advantages the socialist period bestowed upon it to enrich a politico-economic oligarchy.

Perhaps it will be forced to change course in the face of a growing threat from an opposition that has seized upon a deep-rooted public discourse of economic and political morality and turned this, CCM’s own patrimony, against the ruling party. But then again, UKAWA’s opportunism has likely defused that threat, as it left Tanzanians with a choice between the old CCM with a new face and the new parties with an old CCM face.

And so, after five decades, the still-ruling party may just be able to continue performing its curious straddle, doing much of the talking on one side of the fence, and most of the walking on the other.