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07.10.2019 Feature Article

Democratic Development In Kenya And Tanzania: Legacies Of Modern Forebears

Democratic Development In Kenya And Tanzania: Legacies Of Modern Forebears
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Since the end of the Cold War, democracy and development are the two major issues that feature most prominently in discussions involving the Africa, particularly Kenya and Tanzania. These discussions continue to influence economic assistance and policy preferences. This essay therefore sets out to examine the prospects for democratic development in Kenya and Tanzania in this decade in the light of what was bequeathed these two in the immediate or extended aftermath of the Cold War era.

Like many developing countries, the genesis of economic reforms in East Africa could be traced to the Berg Report, which cited inappropriate macroeconomic policies as the cause of Africa’s seemingly permanent economic crisis (Ponte, 2000).

Economic reforms in Tanzania and Kenya could also be explained in historical perspective. The two countries were badly affected by the oil crisis of the 1970s. In Tanzania, a draught that hit the country exacerbated the oil crisis. These resulted in such macroeconomic imbalances as high inflation, increasing government expenditure, shortage of foreign exchange, balance of payment deficit, just to mention a few (Lugalla, 1997). During this period, Tanzania, under Nyerere, lacked the political will to deal with these economic problems since it involves the difficult task of reversing the socialist programs outlined in the Arusha Declaration of 1967.

Unlike Tanzania, post-independence Kenya encountered a favorable environment in which it pursued its developmental goals. Arguably, it has been the symbol of capitalism in East Africa and has global geo-strategic importance. Immediately after independence, Kenya introduced an economic strategy, which resembles the SAP of the 1980’s. The country believed in privatization and individual incentive as the stimulus of economic development. In 1975, Kenya formally received its first policy loan from the IMF to address its balance of payment deficits created by the oil crisis and has since negotiated over 10 policy-based loans from the IMF, which aims at correcting the country’s structural problems (Lofchie, p. 414). It is arguable therefore that unlike Tanzania, Kenya was already on the path to structural adjustment and did not have to reintroduce such reforms from the scratch in the 1980s.

Despite the economic crisis of the 1970’s, Nyerere failed to concede to the IMFs demand for reforms. In the early 1980’s Tanzania designed its own version of structural reforms, which became known as the National Economic Survival Program (NESP), which was followed by another set of reforms aimed at addressing such structural problems as stimulating exports, reducing public expenditure, devaluation, among others (Ponte, 2000). These reforms, however, could not address the country’s structural. Tanzania’s seemingly unending confrontation with the Bretton Woods in this period coincided with the election of more moderate and reform minded Hassan Mwinyi in 1985. Indeed, the initial resistance shifted toward what Kaiser (1996) refers to as “fragile consensus” in which domestic policy preferences were blamed for economic crisis. Such a domestic consensus, gave President Mwinyi the needed political will to concede to IMF recommended structural reform in 1986.

Since the 1990, the two countries have made economic progress. The private sector, for instance has benefited from structural adjustments. In 2001, President Ben William Mkapa, revamped the National Investment Act, which focuses on attracting foreign investment to Tanzania. The government has rolled-back its frontiers encouraging private initiatives. The restructuring and privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) remain the country’s center focus to transform the economy. By 2002, Tanzania had privatized 260 of the total 395 SOEs (ADB, 2003).

In Kenya, similar efforts have been pursued. Since 1991, Kenya has embarked on an intensive privatization program. With a total of 207 SOE’s earmarked for the program, the government has divested 174. Both countries have to accept the private sector as the engine of economic growth. Despite these efforts to encourage the private sector, critics are skeptical about the benefits of privatization in Kenya and Tanzania.

Indeed, divestiture of SOE’s remains a veritable source of conflict between government and private investors, on one hand, and domestic interest groups, on the other hand. Those likely to be affected through retrenchment exercises remain vehement critics of the program. It is arguable that the process of divestiture in both Kenya and Tanzania has not been transparent enough. Critics have argued that national assets are not only sold to foreigners, but also investors with ties to the ruling elites are likely to acquire these assets at an undervalued price. The divestiture of the National Bank of Commerce in Tanzania is a classic illustration (Kelsall, 2003). No wonder the leader of the Democratic Party, Christopher Mtikila has vigorously argued against the country’s economy falling into the hands of foreigners, particularly Asians. Such concerns deserve consideration since privatization could lead to decline in the provision of social services.

Despite these limitations, it is arguable that both countries have achieved relative growth in their economies. The agricultural sector, remains for a long time to come, the main stay of Tanzania’s economy. The agricultural sector is predominantly smallholder and subsistence in nature. It employs about 80% of the labor force and contributed about 45% to the GDP in 2001(World Bank, 2002). The favorable weather conditions, policy reforms in the sector, among other factors facilitated the growth of the sector. Similarly, Kenya’s agricultural industry has progressed. The sector accounts for about 19% of the GDP and employs about 80% of work force. What is interesting is that the contribution of the sector in the two countries remains the subject of debate between policy makers and the academics. Indeed, Kenya had a more impressive agricultural performance than Tanzania in the 1960s and 70s, but both countries began to “trade places” since the 1980’s .The reasons for this switch would be examined elsewhere.

In addition, the services sector in Tanzania, particularly the tourism and trade subsectors have been rigorously supported through the National Tourism Policy and a strategy for promoting private sector initiative. Note however, that the terrorists’ attacks on the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the events of September 11, 2001 curtailed the growth in the tourism sub-sectors. Nonetheless, the services sector contributed about 44% of the GDP in 2001. Similarly, the services sector in Kenya has been revamped. The transport, communication and, tourism sub-sectors have expanded significantly. In 2001, for instance, Kenya’s air transport industry grew by 23.9 % while the communication industry grew by 5.7% (ADB, 2003).

The manufacturing sector shows remarkable progress within the last decade. In Kenya, the sector was boosted at the turn of the decade by the improvement in the textile production. The sub-sector benefited from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) initiative and the Common Market for East Africa (COMESA). It is not surprising that the sector contributes about 13% to the GDP. Similarly, the manufacturing sector contributes about 11% to Tanzania’s GDP. The improvement in the country’s national electrification program has led to increase production (ADB, 2003)

Despite the above progress, it is reasonable to assert that economic reforms cannot flourish without a responsible and accountable government. Much ink has been spilt on the relationship between economic development and democratic governance. The World Bank succinctly conveys this impression by stating in its 1989 report on Africa that the “crisis of governance” is a major factor contributing to Africa’s economic malaise. Indeed, the experiences of Kenya and Tanzania seem to suggest a correlation between democracy and development.

It is arguable that democratic transitions in both Kenya and Tanzania represent a global shift toward democratic governance. The emergence of democracy in Europe, particularly Spain and Portugal in the1970s marked the onset of the ‘third wave” of transitions to democracy. With the collapse of the USSR and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the third wave swept across Eastern Europe and Africa in the 1990s. The prevailing doctrine in this period was that governments should base on the consent of the governed (Joseph, 1999).

Indeed, Kenya and Tanzania, and many African countries opted for democracy in the early 1990s. As one scholar observes, the power of the international financial institutions was nowhere greater than in Africa. The power of the IFIs to induce democratic change through aid is directly proportional to the dependency of the aid receiving countries. With foreign aid representing about 90% of the development budget in both Kenya and Tanzania, domestic and external factors must be cited in explaining democratic development.

In Tanzania, the debate on the possibility of multi-party politics led to the creation of a Presidential Commission headed by Chief Justice Francis Nyalali in February 1991. Although the Commission’s tour of Tanzania showed that about 77% of respondents preferred the one-party system, the Commission recommended the introduction of multiparty politics with some safeguards to protect national unity agenda (Kelsall, 2003). It worthwhile to recall that since independence in 1961, the Tanganyika National Union (TANU), which later became Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) had dominated the country’s political stage, blurring the distinction between the state and the political party. Indeed, since 1961, Tanzania has had three presidents. Both Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Ali Hassan Mwinyi retired as respected statesmen and were replaced in a relatively peaceful manner (Pinkley, 1997).

The country’s first and second multiparty elections were held in 1995 and 2000 respectively. In both elections, the CCM candidates emerged successful. Just like in Kenya, the opposition failed to wrestle power from the incumbent. In 1995, the CCM candidate Ben Mkapa won with 61.8 % of the votes and CCM swept 88% (186) of the 232 seats in parliament. The official opposition, the Civic United Front (CUF) won 28 seats because of its influence in Zanzibar while the National Convention for Constitutional Reform (NCCR) had 19 seats (Hyden, 1999). In the 2000 elections, CCM beat the CUF to consolidate its rule by wining the elections with 71.7% of the recorded votes in the presidential elections and 164 of the 178 parliamentary seats in the mainland (Kelsall, 2003).

Similarly, Kenyan African National Union (KANU) dominated the Kenyan political scene for several decades. The more the demand for multi-party elections grew, the more the government and KANU resisted by arguing that one-party state is necessary in preserving the national unity agenda. As Muigai (1993) puts it, “to have or not to have multi-parties therefore became the largest single ideological issue since the capitalist versus socialist debate of the 1960s”. Indeed, pro-democracy groups, particularly lawyers, women’s organizations, and church groups mounted pressure on the Moi government and KANU leaders to concede to democratic reforms.

By 1991, the Law Society of Kenya and the National Christian Council of Kenya (NCCK) shifted their focus to the Courts and international community, particularly the US and the EU to help mount pressure on Arap Moi and KANU to concede to democratic reforms. These civil groups called for the repeal of Section 2A of the Constitution which sanctioned one-party system in the country. In 1991, the donor community particularly the US condemned the Moi government’s human rights records and demanded reforms before releasing economic and military aid while the EU donors threatened to cut about 50m pounds unless reforms were introduced. Since foreign aid constitutes about 90% of Kenya’s development budget, the government agreed to repeal Section 2A and opened the country to competitive politics. Some officials felt multi-party politics was an opportunity for the KANU to reassert itself.

In 1992 and 1997, Kenya held its first and second multi-party elections respectively. Arap Moi and KANU won both elections. In 1992 elections, Moi emerged victorious with 36 % of the total votes cast beating Mwai Kibaki who pooled 20% of the total votes. In 1997, Moi won with 41% of the total votes cast to Kibaki’s 31 %. What is interesting is that all the opposition presidential challengers in 1992 and 1997 pooled about 64 and 58% of the total votes respectively (Ndegwa, 2003).

It is arguable that both Moi and Mkapa won two successive elections because of the political hegemony the incumbent had craved for itself and the disunity among the opposition. It is reasonable to assert that incumbent’s government often adopts political tactics that hinder the development of the opposition. The historical dominance of both KANU and TANU has made them relatively popular in extending favor to communities loyal to their party suggesting that the opposition parties have a very difficult, if not impossible task of convincing voters why they should be convinced about their untested political manifestoes.

Thus, neo-patrimonialism is what shapes politics in Africa and not policy differences. These factor block the electoral success of the opposition parties since for the ordinary voter, the benefits of being an insider outweigh those of being in the opposition (Hyden, 1999).

In addition, with ethnic divisions in both countries, KANU and CCM are seen as the “national parties” while the opposition parties are seen as representing ethnic, religious, among others without any strong social base (Kelsall, 2003). In both countries, senior party officials tend to be government officials, making it difficult to distinguish between party activities and state functions. State resources are used for party activities, which tends to make the ruling party more equipped for electoral contests. Mungai (1993) conveys this impression when he indicated that the Kenyatta International Conference Center, which was built with state funds, became the headquarters of KANU.

The incumbency advantage is also reinforced by the lack of unity among opposition parties.

Arguably, opposition parties tend to perform better when the “political playing ground’ is leveled and when they unite to contest elections. The experience in Kenya is a classic illustration. In 2002, the 78 year-old Arap Moi left the political scene after serving his second and final term. With Moi’s departure the opposition were quite convinced about their political prospects. By mid- 2002, the opposition parties agreed to form a 15-party National Alliance Rainbow Coalition (NARC) to contest the December elections. Parties in the coalition agreed to field single candidate for the presidential elections and for each of the parliamentary contests. The Alliance became a united party for all those who wanted to breakaway from the Kenyatta-Moi tradition. With such determination and unity, it did not come as a surprise that NARC candidate, Mwai Kibaki won the 2002 elections with 61% in the presidential elections and 125 of the 224 seats in parliament. KANU won 64 seats and other parties put together won 21 seats (Ndegwa, 2003).

Arguably, the opposition in Tanzania will require this kind of coalition and determination in order to win convincingly and unseat the Chama cha Mapinduzi in the 2005 elections.

It is refreshing to note that the civil society sector is developing rapidly in both Kenya and Tanzania. As the “third sector”, civil society and NGOs have emerged to deal with the economic hardships created by the preceding decades of economic crisis. Thus, NGOs are at the forefront of reforms. In both Kenya and Tanzania, these groups have undertaken projects and services in areas that the state often abandons or unable to deal with.

These NGOs are operating in providing reproductive and health, human rights, gender issues, environmental issues, sanitation, provision of potable water, literacy programs, small business credits, just to mention a few. Since 1994, the National Council on Women mobilizes women at the local grass-roots levels to undertake economic, social, and political activities. In Kenya, on the other hand, civil society organization, particularly human rights and environmental groups continue to lead vigorous campaigns against political domination as well as in ameliorating the plight of the disadvantaged in society, particularly women and children (Ndegwa, 2003).

In Africa in general, women do not only constitute the majority of the poor, but also are the victims of harmful socio-cultural practices exacerbated by economic crisis (Kamara, 1997, Mzomo, 1994). The continued determination of Nobel Laureate, Wangari Maathai and her Middle Ground Group to champion the plight of the disadvantaged in Kenya has no doubt attractive international applause.

Unlike many African leaders, Mkapa and Kibaki have not only made reconciliatory gestures, but also created enabling environment for greater enjoyment of freedoms. The freedoms of association, religion, independence of the judiciary, among others are enshrined in the constitution. The have been open debates, particularly in the media about national policies. In Tanzania, for instance the media have been increasingly fair in their treatment of political issues. As Hyden (1999) reiterates, this success could be traced to the creation of the National Media Council, which is composed of representatives of media practitioners and social groups.

This innovation is therefore necessary in dealing with the extreme lack of political culture, particularly in Kenya where there is no credible tradition of principled dissent.

Both Kibaki and Mkapa have therefore been able to manage political conflicts by demonstrating political maturity. As an illustration, one could note Mkapa’s gestures toward the CUF and the Zanzibar. The 1995 election results reveal that CCM candidate Dr. Salmin narrowly beat the CUF candidate Seif Sheriff Hemed .The CUF, however, insisted that the elections were rigged by the CCM and therefore refused not to recognize the CCM government in Zanbibar. This led to violence in the island. Despite the impasse, Mkapa continued to push on its national unity agenda and it did not come as a surprise that the government through the leadership of the Commonwealth Secretariat and Julius Nyerere peacefully resolved the dispute through an Accord (ADB, 2003).

These above enviable economic and political achievements, notwithstanding, the two countries continue to grapple with systemic corruption. The gains realized through economic and democratic reforms are meaningless if concrete effort is not made to address the problem of corruption and waste in the public sector. In 1999, for instance Transparency International classified Tanzania as the seventh most corrupt country in the world (van de Walle, 2001).

In 1995, the Wariba Commission concluded that high-level corruption exists in all sectors of Tanzania’s public life. The “culture of competitive consumption” often leads political leaders to corrupt practices. It has become fashionable to own mansions, drive expensive automobiles, and educate one’s children abroad (Kelsall, 2003). In Kenya, on the other hand, Holmquist and Ford (1992), concur when they argue that acquisition of houses and luxurious buildings often reflect the kickbacks government and state official receive. Since 1990’s Kenya’s Auditor–Generals report continues to implicate high ranking official in corruption and misappropriation of government resources. Most obviously, economic development is retarded when national resources are embezzled or diverted for private gains.

Consequently both governments have launched a high provide drive aimed at “zero tolerance” of corruption. In Tanzania, investigations by the parliamentary select committee on corruption resulted in dismissals and forceful resignation of corrupt officials. In addition, governments departments and agencies are rigorously developing action plans to close off the possible avenues of corruption. In actuality, a National Anticorruption Strategy was formulated in 2001 and Bureaus for the prevention of corruption continue to function at the district levels (ADB, 2003).

The Kibaki government is credited with introducing similar efforts. In 2001, for instance, the government revamped its anti-corruption agenda by strengthening the Anti-Corruption Police Unit and Corruption Control Authority.

It is worthy to reiterate that the article has cited internal and external factors to explain the economic and democratic success of both Kenya and Tanzania. Democratic development is part of a global agenda vigorously pursued by the international donor community and reinforced by domestic social groups who blame poor economic performance on the lack of economic reforms and god governance. Whether the stability and reasonable economic gains Kenya and Tanzania have chalked in this decade will continue into the next is an issue for future commentators.

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Abdul-Manaf Yunus
MSc. Defence and International Politics
Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College

Otu Barracks, Accra
(233) 262522811

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