The Arusha Declaration in Tanzania (1967)


Between 1960 and 1968, Tanzania’s economic growth rate averaged about four percent, however, the majority of the rural population did not benefit from that growth. President Nyerere became concerned with the government’s overreliance of foreign aid and the growing gap between the urban and rural populations in Tanzania. His solution was socialism and self-reliance. This would be carried out through the values in the Arusha Declaration of 1967 which would focus Tanzania on using its own resources.

The Arusha Declaration of 1967

President Nyerere described his socialism as a reverting back to traditional African practices in which people worked together within communities for economic benefit. The result was that many banks and corporations were nationalized. The government became the majority shareholder in several manufacturing firms.


The policy of TANU is to build a socialist state. The principles of socialism are laid down in the TANU Constitution and they are as follows:

WHEREAS TANU believes:

  1. That all human beings are equal;
  2. That every individual has a right to dignity and respect;
  3. That every citizen is an integral part of the nation and has the right to take an equal part in Government at local, regional and national level;
  4. That every citizen has the right to freedom of expression, of movement, of religious belief and of association within the context of the law;
  5. That every individual has the right to receive from society protection of his life and of property held according to law;
  6. That every individual has the right to receive a just return for his labour;
  7. That all citizens together possess all the natural resources of the country in trust for their descendants;
  8. That in order to ensure economic justice the state must have effective control over the principal means of production; and
  9. That it is the responsibility of the state to intervene actively in the economic life of the nation so as to ensure the well-being of all citizens, and so as to prevent the exploitation of one person by another or one group by another, and so as to prevent the accumulation of wealth to an extent which is inconsistent with the existence of a classless society.

NOW, THEREFORE, the principal aims and objects of TANU shall be as follows:

  1. To consolidate and maintain the independence of this country and the freedom of its people;
  2. To safeguard the inherent dignity of the individual in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
  3. To ensure that this country shall be governed by a democratic socialist government of the people;
  4. To co-operate with all political parties in Africa engaged in the liberation of all Africa;
  5. To see that the Government mobilizes all the resources of this country towards the elimination of poverty, ignorance and disease;
  6. To see that the Government actively assists in the formation and maintenance of co-operative organizations;
  7. To see that wherever possible the Government itself directly participates in the economic development of this country;
  8. To see that the Government gives equal opportunity to all men and women irrespective of race, religion or status;
  9. To see that the Government eradicates all types of exploitation, intimidation, discrimination, bribery and corruption;
  10. To see that the Government exercises effective control over the principal means of production and pursues policies which facilitate the way to collective ownership of the resources of this country;
  11. To see that the Government co-operates with other states in Africa in bringing about African unity;
  12. To see that Government works tirelessly towards world peace and security through the United Nations Organization.

PART TWO- The Policy of Socialism

(a) Absence of Exploitation

A truly socialist state is one in which all people are workers and in which neither capitalism nor feudalism exists. It does not have two classes of people, a lower class composed of people who work for their living, and an upper class of people who live on the work of others. In a really socialist country no person exploits another; everyone who is physically able to work does so; every worker obtains a just return for the labour he performs; and the incomes derived from different types of work are not grossly divergent. In a socialist country, the only people who live on the work of others, and who have the right to be dependent upon their fellows, are small children, people who are too old to support themselves, the crippled, and those whom the state at any one time cannot provide with an opportunity to work for their living.

Tanzania is a nation of peasants but is not yet a socialist society. It still contains elements of feudalism and capitalism–with their temptations. These feudalistic and capitalistic features of our society could spread and entrench themselves.

(b) The Major Means of Production and Exchange are under the Control of the Peasants and Workers.

To Build and maintain socialism it is essential that all the major means of production and exchange in the nation are controlled and owned by the peasants through the machinery of their Government and their co-operatives. Further, it is essential that the ruling Party should be a Party of peasants and workers.

The major means of production and exchange are such things as: land; forests; minerals; water; oil and electricity; news media; communications; banks, insurance, import ;and export trade, wholesale trade ; iron and steel, machine tool, arms, motor-car, cement, fertilizer, and textile industries; and any big factory on which a large section of the people depend for their living, or which provides essential components of other industries; large plantations, and especially those which provide raw materials essential to important industries.

Some of the instruments of production and exchange which have been listed here are already owned or controlled by the people’s Government of Tanzania.

(c) The Existence of Democracy

A state is not socialist simply because its means of production and exchange are controlled or owned by the government, either wholly or in large part. If a country to be socialist, it is essential that its government is chosen and led by the peasants and workers themselves. If the minority governments of Rhodesia or South Africa controlled or owned the entire economies of these respective countries, the result would be a strengthening of oppression, not the building of socialism. True socialism cannot exist without democracy also existing in the society.

(d) Socialism is a Belief

Socialism is a way of life, and a socialist society cannot simply come into existence. A socialist society can only be built by those who believe in, and who themselves practice, the principles of socialism. A committed member of TANU will be a socialist and his fellow socialist – that is, his fellow believers in this political and economic system – are all those in Africa or elsewhere in the world who fight for the rights of peasants and workers. The first duty of a TANU member, and especially of a TANU leader, is to accept these socialist principles, and to live his own life in accordance with them. In particular, a genuine TANU leader will not live off the sweat of another man, nor commit any feudalistic or capitalistic actions.

The successful implementation of .socialist objectives depends very much up the leaders, because socialism is a belief in a particular system of living, and it is difficult for leaders to promote its growth if they do not themselves accept it.

PART THREE- Policy of Self Reliance

We are at War

TANU is involved in a war against poverty and oppression in our country; the struggle is aimed at moving the people of Tanzania (and the people of Africa as a whole) from a state of poverty to a State of prosperity.

We have been oppressed a great deal, we have been exploited a great deal and we have been disregarded a great deal. It is our weakness that has led to our being oppressed, exploited and disregarded. Now we want a revolution – a revolution which brings an end to our weakness, so that we are never again exploited, oppressed, or humiliated.

A Poor Man does not use Money as a Weapon

But it is obvious that in the past we have chosen the wrong weapon for our struggle, because we chose money as our weapon. We are trying to overcome our economic weakness by using the weapons or the economically strong – weapons which in fact we do not possess. By our thoughts, words and actions it appears as if we have come to the conclusion that without money we cannot bring about the revolution we are aiming at. It is as if we have said, ‘Money is the basis of development. Without money there can be no development.’

That is what we believe at present. TANU leaders, and Government leaders and officials, all put great emphasis and dependence on money. The people’s leaders, and the people themselves, in TANU, NUTA, Parliament, UWT, the co-operatives, TAPA, and in other national institutions think, hope and pray for MONEY. It is as if we had all agreed to speak with one voice, saying, ‘If we get money we shall develop, without money we cannot develop.

In brief, our Five-Year Development Plan aims at more food, more education, and better health; but the weapon we have put emphasis upon is money. It is as if we said, ‘In the next five years we want to have more food, more education, and better health, and in order to achieve these things we shall spend £250,000,000’. We think and speak as if the most important thing to depend upon is MONEY and anything else we intend to use in our struggle is of minor importance.

When a Member of Parliament says that there is a shortage of water in his constituency; and he asks the Government how it intends to deal with the problem, he expects the Government to reply that it is planning to remove the shortage of water in his constituency – with MONEY.

When another Member of Parliament asks what the Government is doing about the shortage of roads, schools or hospitals in his constituency, he also expects the Government to tell him that it has specific plans to build roads, schools and hospitals in his constituency – with MONEY.

When a NUTA official asks the Government about its plans to deal with the low wages and poor housing of the workers, he expects the Government to inform him that the minimum wage will be increased and that better houses will be provided for the workers – WITH MONEY.

When a TAPA official asks the Government what plans it has to give assistance to the many TAPA schools which do not get Government aid, he expects the Government to state that it is ready the following morning to give the required assistance – WITH MONEY.

When an official of the co-operative movement mentions any problem facing the farmer, he expects to hear that the Government will solve the farmer’s problems – WITH MONEY in short, for every problem facing our nation, the solution that is in everybody’s mind is MONEY.

Each year, each Ministry of Government makes its estimates of expenditure, i.e. the amount of money it will require in the coming year to meet recurrent and development expenses. Only one Minister and his Ministry make estimates of revenue. This is the Minister for Finance.

Every Ministry puts forward very good development plans. When the Ministry presents its estimates, it believes that the money is there for the asking but that the Minister for Finance are being obstructive. And regularly each year the Minister of Finance has to tell his fellow Ministers that there is no money. And each year the Ministers complain about the Ministry of Finance when it trims down their estimates.

Similarly, when Members of Parliament and other leaders demand that the Government should carry out a certain development; they believe that there is a lot of money to spend on such projects, but that the Government is the stumbling block. Yet such belief on the part of Ministries, Members of Parliament and other leaders does not alter the stark truth, which is that Government has no money.

When it is said that Government has no money, what does this mean? It means that the people of Tanzania have insufficient money the people pay taxes out of the very little wealth they have; it is from these taxes that the Government meets its recurrent and development expenditure. When we call on the Government to spend more money on development projects, we are asking the Government to use more money and if the Government does not have any more, the only way it can do this is to increase its revenue through extra taxation.

If one calls on the Government to spend more, one is in effect calling on the Government to increase taxes. Calling on the Government to spend more without raising taxes is like demanding that the Government should perform miracles; it is equivalent to asking for more milk from a cow while insisting that the cow should not be milked again. But our refusal to admit the calling on the Government to spend more is the same as calling on the Government to raise taxes shows that we fully realize the difficulties of increasing taxes. We realize that the cow has no more milk – that is, that the people find it difficult to pay more taxes. We know that the cow would like to have more milk herself, so that her calves could drink it, or that she would like more milk which could be sold to provide more comfort for herself or her calves. But knowing all the things which could be done with more milk does not alter the fact that the cow has no more milk!