On December 9, 2022, Tanzania will mark 61 years of independence. In these 61 years, it is important to note that regardless of the socio-economic challenges that the country faced in its journey to liberate the people economically after political independence, several achievements in areas such as the provision of social services, infrastructure development (e.g roads, ports, railways, etc), advancement of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and many others have been recorded.
The 60 years of a politically liberated Tanzania have also observed several shocks triggered by the Cold war, a shift from the single political party state to a multiparty system in 1992, and the pressure from the Bretton Woods institutions like IMF and the World Bank in the early 1980s which forced Tanzania to adopt Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs). On top of that, disintegration from the East African Community, the Tanzania-Uganda war, and some shocks emerged in the 21st Century such as those associated with the global financial crisis of 2008, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the like. All these shocks created certain positive or negative repercussions for Tanzania in one way or the other.
However, the reasons to pen this opinion piece is not to discuss the achievements or the challenges of the most peaceful country in the Eastern Africa region but rather to focus on why President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s 4Rs philosophy which encompasses Reconciliation, Resiliency, Reforms, and Rebuilding is prerequisite and a necessary tool in addressing the contemporary issues affecting the country’s social, political, and economic systems after 60 years of independence.
Notably, Tanzania is one of the members of the global and regional communities committed to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030 and the aspirations of Agenda 2063 which targets to promote people’s prosperity in social, cultural, political, and economic spheres. Hence, with the ongoing changes and emerging challenges at the national, regional, and global levels, the economic and governance systems that were used about 60 years ago are unlikely to yield desired results in the current context.
For instance, since the process of writing the new constitution stalled in 2014, there have been calls from some opposition, activists, and members of the academia for the process to start over again. Moreover, there have been concerns about the challenges facing political parties, particularly on the issue of rallies. However, President Samia since taking the mantle of leadership has committed to strengthening the multiparty system and in March 2022, she received the preliminary report from the task force assigned to coordinate stakeholders’ views on multiparty democracy in Tanzania. This is also demonstrated in her editorial published by Tanzania’s Daily News on June 31, 2022, when she pointed out the 4Rs as her key priority in strengthening the multiparty political system in the country.
“My government is committed and will always strive to initiate changes in the political and economic systems, as well as making legal electoral reforms. The objective is to ensure we match the current demands. It is, therefore, important for us to clearly know when to make changes that touch all aspects of life, even when such changes face objections from some quarters during that specific time.’’ Noted President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania.
Therefore, her political will for Reconciliation, Resiliency, Reforms, and Rebuilding is a golden opportunity that needs to be swiftly embraced by all Tanzanians if we are to build back better after a series of local and global challenges that have threatened our abilities to fully transform the country and maximize its full potential in different sectors in the past six decades. The 4Rs allow diverse groups of our society that shares divergent views of various religious, social, political, and economic issues in Tanzania to be unified on matters of national interests and development at large rather than the individual interests of the groups they are aligned with.
President Samia has recognized the need for changes and reforms in the political, social, and economic systems such as her current move to review the police force and other state apparatus as a mechanism to rebuild the country. Furthermore, making legal electoral amendments is of prerequisite importance toward reconciliation among different groups of society considering the claims of shrinking political space and unequal competition among the political parties in most elections due to outdated electoral laws. As a consequence, if these issues remain unaddressed they may create cracks in our national unity. That being said, rebuilding the country means filling up such cracks that may have resulted from the grievances among different social and political groups in Tanzania. In addition, filling up the cracks entails unifying the society which is essential in promoting resilience for the country to withstand both internal and external shocks that can affect socio-economic progress.
“For our country to develop further from where it is now, there must be an underpinning structure which is best delineated in the 4Rs President Samia is deploying. Reconciliation, Resilience, Reforms, and Rebuilding are what will profoundly make Tanzania attain being an upper middle-income country in no time to come,” says Ms. Diana Chando, the African Union Youth Peace Ambassador for the Eastern Africa region.
On the other hand, Ms.Jessica Mshama, East African Community Youth Ambassador has called for all stakeholders in Tanzania to rally behind the President’s philosophy that aims to transform the country to accommodate all members of the society without discrimination.
Mind you, in her 4Rs philosophy, President Samia has shown the way forward for Tanzania. However, it is up to all the groups of society to follow it toward transforming the country’s economy for the betterment of the current and future generations where everyone regardless of their political, religious, ethnic, or economic backgrounds can maximize their full potential.