Poverty can be alleviated if not to be ended completely in Tanzania if every [citizen] is accountable and dedicated to his/her position at [household], [community] and national levels.

[Responsibilities at Family Level]

Taking an example of a household with spouses and children, the main responsibilities of children is to eat, play, and schooling (if they are at schooling ages); while that of [parents] are to work hard to make sure their needs and that of their children are fulfilled. While there is a division of responsibilities among the spouses in the [1], one of them take leadership role for all family matters. Failure of one of the [2] members (especially spouses) to take his/her responsibility appropriately, the [3] may shake economically and socially.

Leadership system at Community Level

The leadership system in Tanzania, starts from ten cells level – meaning that, at-least every ten households there is one democratically elected leader. The hamlet which is led by democratically elected chairperson is composed of 100 households and the village which is led by democratically elected chairperson and employed village executive officer is composed of 3 to 4 hamlets with households ranging from 300 to 500 households. The term for all elected leaders lasts for five years. Accountability is the problem in all these leadership levels as it is also pinpointed by Tim Kelsall, Siri Lange, Simeon Mesaki and Max Mmuya (June, 2005).

Good leadership is a Prerequisite for Development

Since Tanzania independence from British empire in early 1960s, Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere was saying that if we need to develop, we need the following: land, people, good leadership, and good politics. Many leaders kept on repeating the same slogan and also incorporated into civics books that are used for teaching in the schools – but in practice, very little is being practiced on the ground. Land and people are given resources, and also it is easier to have good politics – but to have a good leadership is a great challenge at all levels, i.e. [4], hamlet, village,, division, district, region, and nation. A leader is guided by laid down regulations, principles, policies to allocate and distribute resources accordingly, but most of them are selfish and incapable to deliver – as a result there are many complaints from community members in many places against their leaders from grass-roots to the national levels over their irresponsibility on the resource management.

Endowed Resources

I would like to focus more on the rural areas where more than 80% of the population dwell. Resources such as arable land, seasonal rainfalls, and people are common to all villages; apart from these, many other villages are endowed with resources, such as minerals, natural forests, rivers, lakes, ocean et cetera. We have everything, but about 80% of the population are living under 1 US $ per day! What is wrong? Lack of capable and dedicated leadership is one the major limiting factors in the resource management.

Stable Peace in Tanzania

Stable Peace in the country could be the best opportunity to utilize the endowed resources for sustainable development. Tanzania has been enjoying [stable peace] even before independence due to the fact that there are more than 120 ethnic tribes; Kiswahi as national language that was reinforced during Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere administration; and abolishment of chiefdoms in the country (immediately after independency) which existed in every tribe. Despite this precious opportunity of stable peace, the economic condition failed to improve as compared to Rwanda, Mozambique, and Angola which have passed through civil wars for many years, but their economies are picking up.

[Political system in Tanzania]

From 1967 when Arusha Declaration was launched, Tanzania started following Eastern Block political system. Though Tanzania was None Aligned country, we were practicing socialism. The country has been operating under mono-party system since 1965 when opposition parties were abolished. Following the perestroika and fall of communism in USSR during late 1980s, many countries including Tanzania changed not only economic systems but also political systems. Tanzania resumed multi-party system in 1992 and to-date we have ….. registered political parties. In 1990s, Globalization led many African countries, including Tanzania to change their political system from mono-party system to multiparty system. For twenty years since Tanzania changed to multiparty system, very little or no positive changes in the government accountability have been noticed that would help to alleviate poverty at household level.

Human Resource

During independence in 1961 Tanzania (the then Tanganyika) there was no even a single university; we had less than twenty university graduates who schooled from universities in the different countries - but now we have more than 20 universities (public and private) pumping more than 15,000 graduates in the labor market annually, leave alone other levels like diploma, certificates and others. The labor market is saturated, such that many unemployed elites with their degrees, diplomas and certificates are wondering in the streets. Apart from the fact that some resources are mismanaged and misallocated, there are many untapped resources that could absorb the growing number of unemployed people. During Julius K. Nyerere administration, he hesitated to welcome foreign companies to invest in our resources such as mines, but rather reserved them for future generation in which he was keen to educate. After Nyerere’s administration, we have been observing many resources (mines, public industries, arable lands, and others) which could be managed by natives, being cheaply privatized to the foreign investors. Now, those educated people are observers of the foreign investors in the resources which were initially reserved for them by the founder of this nation.

Financial and Technical Support from International Organizations

Developed countries together with [International Financial Institutions] have spent billions of US dollars in capacitating the government systems to bring development for many decades, but instead of poverty being decreased, it is increasing. There have been many internationally funded programs aiming at improving national economy since 1980s, such as National Economic Survival Program (NESP), Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), and Economic Recovery Program (ERP), Economic and Social Action Program (ESAP), Rolling Plan and Forward Budget (RPFB). To-date there is a 25 years Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRSP 2001 – 2025) parallel with Millennium Development Goals (MDGs – 2000 to 2015); now there is Kilimo Kwanza initiative. Despite the observed initiatives, the economy is still insufficient to provide the impetus for the poverty eradication. Mark Schacter (2000), suggests that such a fundamental change of perspective can never be donor-led or induced primarily by the application of external resources. It must come from within e.g. (i) Financial and technical resources—the stock-in-trade of most Bank-supported operations—are usually not the binding constraint to solving either governance or Monitoring & Evaluation problems. The mentality donor-led project is widespread from national to village level – there are several projects that could be accomplished by using locally available resources, for example potable water wells, small irrigation schemes, health structures, school building et cetera, but they have remained unimplemented awaiting for external donor assistance. The well known economic indicators such as GNP and GDP always show that the economy is growing, but in actual sense they do not show how wealth is distributed to the majority. Tanzania economy is recorded to improve every year, but more that 80% of its population mostly living in the rural areas are living below poverty line. During early 1990s, international financial institutions (including International Monetary Fund advised Tanzania to retrench staff and stop employment even in the important sectors, such as education, health and agriculture as a precondition for financial assistance; as a result the economy paralyzed, and now we have a long walk towards achieving socio-economic improvement. ===[Governance in Tanzania]=== Tanzania like other poor countries such as [Uganda], [Burundi], [Malawi], According to Mark Schacter (2000), Tanzania, like Uganda, is perceived to have one of the world’s most corrupt public administrations. [Corruption in Tanzania Government Systems] is escalating with time.

General Elections

Political crises in many developing countries, including [Tanzania], occur immediately after general election. The worse examples of crises occurred in [Kenya after 2008 General Election], and [Ivory Coast after 2011 General Election]. In [Tanzania, after 2010 General Election], there arise [conflicts] which fortunately did not turn into [crisis]. The conflicts occurred between the ruling party and main opposition parties, following the complaints from opposition and some activists that the [Tanzania National Electoral Commission] is allegedly favored the ruling political party.

We Can Change

The [Tanzania Policy Makers] should stop receiving [foreign aids] and [foreign investors] that are accompanied by many conditions that are not in favor of [citizens], instead focus on empowering civil society organizations from grass-root to national level, cooperative societies, and focal development groups that will help to mobilize the community to utilize the human energy for sustainable development. As most of the development projects are donor driven, policy makers need to change this paradigm, so that they (projects) become community driven.

Transparency in the government systems is another very important area to be taken into consideration.

Acceptable [National Constitution] is important to bring in accountability among the government office bearers to deliver fair and quality services to the [citizens]

Civic education for all [citizens] is important to let them know their rights, but also their responsibilities to their country.

Free and Fair General Election is important not only for economic development, but also for maintaining [peace and tranquility].


  • Tim Kelsall, Siri Lange, Simeon Mesaki and Max Mmuya (June, 2005): Understanding the Patterns of Accountability in Tanzania.
  • Daniel C. Taylor, Carl E. Taylor, Jesse O. Taylor (2012): Empowerment on an Unstable Planet
  • Honest Prosper Ngowi (March, 2009), Economic development and change in Tanzania since independence: The political leadership factor

© C. Samali (June, 2012)

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Laxity is the Cause of Poverty in Tanzania, that was deleted or is being discussed for deletion, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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