Tanzania: Shifting the Seat of Government to Dodoma – Mwalimu Nyerere’s Dream That Has Come True

Mwalimu Nyerere's dream that has come true PRESIDENT John Magufuli, on July 23, 2016, announced his commitment to relocate all the ministries to Dodoma before the end of his first five-year term in office in October, 2020.

The announcement was positively received by a cross sections of Tanzanians, including the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation, which issued a statement published in the Daily News of July 28, 2016, saying: "The Private Sector sees the Government's intention to shift to Dodoma as a new business opportunity, because a lot of new investments will be required to meet the demands of the increased population." On his part, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa made the commitment to shift to the new capital, Dodoma, in September 2016, and directed all the ministers to follow suit.

There is every reason to believe that this will indeed happen this time, because of the political will which has been demonstrated by the Magufuli Government in implementing its promises without fail. And this will indeed be Mwalimu Nyerere's dream come true, at long last.

Mwalimu Nyerere and the 'Shift to Dodoma' project. It all started in 1966, when Joseph Nyerere, younger brother of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, asked for, and was granted, permission by the Speaker to introduce a 'Private Member's Motion' in the National Assembly, calling for the relocation of the seat of Government to Dodoma.

That motion was duly debated, but when the time came for the Government side to express its views on the matter, the Minister for Finance warned the House about the high costs involved in implementing the project.

Sensing that on the basis of the minister's comments, his motion was most likely going to be defeated if it was put to a vote, Mr Nyerere prudently chose to withdraw his motion, citing the military wisdom, "he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day".

In other words, Mr Nyerere did not want the issue to be finally determined at that stage, but to be left open for another attempt to be made later. It is not clear whether this clever strategy of keeping the issue alive was designed by Mr Nyerere alone, or with the help of Mwalimu Nyerere.

But judging from the events which followed later, when Mwalimu Nyerere himself took personal charge in getting this apparently difficult decision made by the ruling Party (TANU); one is tempted to believe that the strategy was crafted by Mwalimu Nyerere, and only given as an 'advise' to his brother Joseph.

The 'shift to Dodoma' decision was made by TANU. Having thus failed to pass through Parliament on account of 'budget concerns', the project was strategically re-located to the ruling party (TANU), where such 'budget concerns' would not be a hindrance, because it would be easily explained that funding was a concern of the Government, not of the Party; and further that once a decision had been made by the Party, the Government would be directed to implement it.

The Party process started rather discreetly when, in April 1972, the Mwanza Regional Working Committee of the Party reactivated the matter of shifting the Government Capital to Dodoma by quietly passing a resolution to that effect, and recommending to the Party's Central Committee that this matter be urgently taken up and be finally determined by the Party's National Executive Committee.

It was from that time onwards that Mwalimu Nyerere's great interest, and influence, were manifestly exerted in having this matter determined appropriately. The Central Committee quickly discussed the recommendation from Mwanza, gave it its full and enthusiastic support, and forwarded it to the National Executive Committee.

In its consideration of this matter, the National Executive Committee decided that shifting the Government Capital to Dodoma was a matter of such great importance that it should be referred to all Branches of the Party for their consideration and advice, before a final decision is made.

This was to be a kind of an internal Party referendum, whereby all the Party Branches were given twelve months within which to carry out this exercise, each Branch being left to select its own convenient time for doing so. The records show that altogether, a total of 1,859 TANU Branches participated.

Of these, 842 Branches opposed the proposal to shift the Capital to Dodoma, while 1,017 Branches supported the proposal. The National Executive Committee met again during August 1973, received these results, and made a final decision in the form of the following resolution: " The National Executive Committee hereby resolves that the seat of Government be shifted to Dodoma, and that the move be completed within a period of ten years.

This decision is final and the Government is hereby directed to take immediate action for its implementation". On 24 September, 1973, TANU's then bi-annual National Conference was held.

In the course of his opening speech at that Conference, Mwalimu Nyerere made the following authoritative statement: "I would like to take this opportunity to complete an assignment which was given to me by the National Executive Committee at its recent meeting here in Dar es Salaam.

Among the issues which were discussed at that meeting, was the question of whether or not the Government Capital should be shifted from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma. The National Executive Committee made a final decision on this matter, and asked me to announce it.

I would now like to take this opportunity to do precisely that, and I seek the indulgence of NEC for not having done so earlier". The implementation of that decision by the Government started immediately.

On October 6, 1973, President Nyerere, by order published in the Government Gazette, established a new Ministerial portfolio, the Ministry of Capital Development (MCD). Furthermore, by Government Notice (GN) no 230 published on 12th October, 1973; the President also established the Capital Development Authority (CDA), as the Government's implementing Agency. The ruling party relocated immediately to Dodoma.

The ruling Party, at that time the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), was ordered to shift to Dodoma immediately after the decision had been made, in order to show a good example to the Government to follow suit.

However, on the side of the Government, what followed thereafter, and for the next 43 years, is a rather sad story concerning the huge but effectively wasted efforts, which were so enthusiastically invested by President Mwalimu Nyerere into making this 'shift-to-Dodoma' project a success; plus the accompanying frustrations and disappointments which tormented his mind as a result of this failure to achieve his cherished objective.

It is my humble submission that this failure, and the accompanying frustrations and disappointments, were caused entirely by the imprudent total dependence on the Government budget to fund this Capital Transfer project.

The undue dependence on the Government budget. The main obstacle in the implementation of the 'shift-to Dodoma' project was the almost total dependence on the Government budget to fund the entire project. This was, very clearly, less than prudent.

As we have seen above, 'budget concerns' are what derailed the project during its earlier consideration in the National Assembly in 1966. And even now, following President Magufuli's recent announcement to reactivate the project, we are already witnessing similar 'budget concerns' as being raised by some people.

Such 'budget concerns' are actually what accounts for the failure to implement the shift to Dodoma project for the last 43 years, and this is what also accounts for Mwalimu Nyerere's disappointments and frustrations at this failure. This is explained by the fact that Mwalimu Nyerere's enthusiasm for the shift to Dodoma was based primarily on his socialist vision.

For it is indeed a fact that for Mwalimu Nyerere, relocating the Government Capital to Dodoma was an embodiment of his cherished Ujamaa policy. He strongly felt that the move of the Capital to Dodoma, the centre of the country, would mostly benefit the vast majority of the peasants who were living in that least developed part of the country. This is illustrated by his decision that the Dodoma Ikulu should be located in Chamwino Village.

It would appear that in his considered opinion, and in terms of the Arusha Declaration guidelines, money should NOT be a major obstacle in the implementation of such a beneficial project. It may perhaps be helpful for me to remind our readers, about a pertinent paragraph which appears in PART Three of the Arusha Declaration.

This is the part which is devoted to explaining the policy of selfreliance. That paragraph reads as follows : "We are waging a war, with a view to transforming our nation from a position of weakness, to a position of strength. But it is obvious that in fighting this war, we have selected the wrong weapon, namely money! We are trying to overcome our poverty by using the rich man's weapon, money, which in fact we do not have.

In all our words and deeds, we seem to have decided that without money, our revolution will never succeed. It is as if we are saying that money is the basis of development, thus no money, no development!"

One example of this urge for money happened when, at one particular time, Mwalimu Nyerere asked me, in my capacity as Chairman of CDA, to make arrangements for shifting to Dodoma what was considered to be the smallest Ministry (in terms of numbers of employees who are resident in Dar es Salaam), which was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. This was in the hope that this exercise would be less costly, because of the relatively smaller numbers of personnel to be shifted.

On receipt of that instruction, the Ministry quickly prepared a supplementary budget which they said would be required for it to be able to shift to Dodoma. The amount presented was far beyond the ability of the Treasury to provide at the material time.

That effectively closed the matter, and the Ministry remained in Dar es Salaam. Attempts to involve the Private Sector.

Subsequently, under President Ally Hassan Mwinyi, a bold attempt was made to involve the active participation of Private Sector in the shift -to-Dodoma Government project when, in February 1989, Parliament enacted a special law for that purpose. This is the Dodoma Special Investment Area Act (no.7) of 1989.

This law, which declared the whole of the Dodoma Capital Development Area to be 'a special investment area', also made extremely generous provisions for the remission of a number of Government taxes to those investors who would come forward to invest the Dodoma Capital Development Area.

Such remissions included the remission of the whole of the Customs duties payable on specified products, imported or purchased locally from bonded warehouses prior to clearance through customs; remission of the whole of the Income Tax payable by any person who may set up a specified industry or small scale industry in Dodoma, for certain specified periods; and the remission of Sales Tax in respect of specified products imported or purchased for investment in Dodoma.

The relevant products which were granted these Tax remissions were specified in the Appendices to that law, were mainly building materials such as cement; kiln and quarry products; Iron and steel products; Electrical items; Pipes and pipe fittings; Bitumen, paints and oils; Roofing and ceiling materials; Glass products; and Timber and timber products.

In addition, the said law also provided remissions of 50% of the charges in respect of electricity consumed by every specified industry which was to be established in the Dodoma Capital Development Area; as well as remissions of 50% of the charges payable in respect of water consumed by every specified industry established in the Dodoma Capital Development Area. These were indeed very generous offers to investors.

But, alas, they appear not to have created any increased enthusiasm for investment in Dodoma. This was probably due to the impression which had unfortunately been created, that the Government itself was not shifting to Dodoma!

President Magufuli's renewed enthusiasm to shift the seat of Government to Dodoma, also appears to be based on the Arusha declaration guidelines which we quoted above, namely, the avoidance of that false thinking that "money is the basis of development.

Hence No money, No development"! And this time round, because of President Magufuli's immense political will, success seems to be assured.

As the Holy Bible says in Ecclesiastes: "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven . . . There is a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted . . ." Mwalimu Nyerere's cherished dream of shifting the Capital to Dodoma, has eventually come true.

Source: Tanzania Daily News.