Politics ought to consider the past to be relevant today and tomorrow

14Jan 2022
The Guardian
Politics ought to consider the past to be relevant today and tomorrow

COMPARING past performance with current methods or techniques is routine in marking important events in a country’s life.

A ready example would be how various governments react to crises of confidence or cabinet conscience at one time or another.

We have just marked 60 years of Tanganyika’s Independence and 58 years of the Zanzibar Revolution in the background of ideological debates within the ruling party.

That was only to be expected, as vigorous internal communication is healthy for any community, all the more so if that happens to be a political party all the more so.

Founder president Julius Nyerere retired as ruling party chairman in 1990, five years after leaving office. His parting words – to CCM delegates –included these: “Without a strong CCM, our country will be unstable.”

It is definitely the case that our country isn’t unstable, though that should not translate into suggesting that it is all hearty handshakes within the ruling CCM and between it and opposition parties.

The political landscape may not be as smooth as some quarters would wish to see, which some analysts may describe as only natural.

This is especially common whenever there is no sufficient inter-party and even intra-party agreement or harmony – most particularly when watershed elections are just around the corner.

In a situation of ideological harmony, things would tend to reduce themselves cases calling for orientation relating to personal ambitions which could be handled by the relevant party organs and procedures.

More complicated situations, though, would demand more principled stances reaching the level of more highly placed party organs.

When, on the contrary, there is an appreciable difference in orientations, any malaise coming up would have to do with such divergence, and more issues of principle would emerge.

With respect to questions of development strategy, for instance, impressions created along the decades would include what is right – or wrong – in relation to the country’s economy. When such issues are raised they surely merit a principled response.

In his time, Mwalimu Nyerere at one point in time came up with an essay examining the issues involved – as he did when Tanzania faulted relations with Britain after having quarrelled with West Germany the year before as the government refused to rescind recognition of East Germany.

Mwalimu issued a celebrated paper entitled: ‘Principles and Development’, and Kwame Nkrumah’s government (in Ghana) was overthrown a year later.

Then, come October 1966, students of the then University College of Dar es Salaam demonstrated against (among other things) the National Service, following which Mwalimu brought in the Arusha Declaration.

Much of this has surely witnessed natural adjustments over the years – some positive and others not as much.

Of most importance and relevance would be those thoughts, ideas and views aired as freely as possible so as to move the political conscience for the good of the country and the nation and which, if not addressed to satisfaction, would result in acrimony not benefiting the people.

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