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tenga, ringo w. 'Decentralization and Governance in Tanzania - The Land Law reform' World Food Day, Cornell U. NY, 1997

tenga, ringo w. 'Decentralization and Governance in Tanzania - The Land Law reform' World Food Day, Cornell U. NY, 1997

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Paper presented to the World Food Day commenoration forum morganised by the african centre, Cornell University, NY, 1997
Paper presented to the World Food Day commenoration forum morganised by the african centre, Cornell University, NY, 1997

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Dr. Ringo W. Tenga
Page 1 of 20
Cornell World Food Day Paper
Decentralization and challenges of Equity in Local Governance
By Ringo Tenga
\u201cIt is obvious that the nation State in Africa is organically unachievable\u201d
Joseph Kizerbo (1995)1
Beyond the Myth of the \u2018Nation State\u2019 in Africa
That the state in Africa is in crisis needs no detailed explanation.2 Political and
theoretical debates in Africa for the last thirty years, have been on theraison
d\u2019etre of the colonial and post-colonial state (Nkurumah, Frantz Fanon,

Amilcar Cabral, Samir Amin, Walter Rodney, Dan Nabudere, Issa Shivji, etc.). The historian Basil has called it the Black Man\u2019s Burden.3 Critical question on the African state still persist. Did the process of colonization create autonomous National States in Africa? Is the Organisation of African Unity constituted of autonomous and independent states?

The definition of an \u201cautonomous and independent state\u201d would entail a determination of whether the given state has endogenous structures both politically and economically; sovereign and self-reliant. It does not need any miraculous analysis to conclude with fair estimation that almost all African states are neither sovereign nor self-reliant.

The international/global economic system has taken care of that. As Professor Ki-Zerbo has suggested theoretical debate on the African Nation State often deals either with an illusory concept or with a vanishing entity, if ever there was one:

\u201cBasil Davidson rightly identifies the nation state as the principal \u2018burden\u2019 borne by black people from now on. But it would have been more accurate if he had situated the state within the organic structure of the so-called \u2018modern\u2019 world where the state is accompanied or supported by two other actors, namely the market and science, including thescien ce of management. It is under this triple burden that Africa is collapsing today. The state is no sooner born than the International Monetary Fund is calling for it to be cut back.\u201d4

In terms of economic systems which may guarantee endogenous development African states do not have resources. They also lack both the social and cultural resources that would have given them a basis to create alternative paths for development. In the final analysis they simply \u2018cling to the scattered elements of an imported identity, which exists in a strictly legal

Ki-Zerbo, Joseph. \u201cwhich way Africa\u201d Reflection on Basil Davidson\u2019s. The Black Man\u2019s
Burden in Development Dialogue Journal Vol. 2, 1995, pp.99

Laakso, L. and Adebayo O. Olukoshi, 1996 \u201cThe Crisis of the Post-Colonial Nation-State Project in Africa\u201d in Olukoshi and Laakso (Eds). 1996. Challenges to the Nation-State in Africa [Noordska Africanist, Uppsala]

Davidson, B. 1992. The Black Man\u2019s Burden (James Currey, London).
Ki-Zebro, ibid.
Dr. Ringo W. Tenga
Page 2 of 20
Cornell World Food Day Paper
sense but is devoid of the socio-cultural roots which would have given it real
legitimacy and authority\u2019.5

The endemic crisis is manifested through the crumbling of the Nation-State, the rural-urban immigration which siphons the African rural masses into the cities breaking the rural economy and furthermore throws urban centres into chaos and at once they develop a \u201cparallel\u201d economy, and also the existence of the military states which are internationally taken to be \u201cpredatory and illegal\u201d (e.g. Buyoya of Rwanda).

Reactions to this malady have been various. But two principal movements have been discerned; whilst on the level of the nations the idea has been to promote regional integration or federalism,6 on the country level the major reaction has been decentralisation (deconcetration) of power from the center to the local state machineries.7

The concern of this paper is on the latter

The whole movement of \u201cliberalisation\u201d of the economy has entailed promotion of the private sector and democratization of hitherto dictatorial political institutions.

The World Bank has been at the forefront of this movement. Its Annual Reports in the past decade manifest a clear message which leans towards decentralisation. The 1997 World Development Report entitled The State

in a Changing World8. Chapter 10 of the Report concentrates largely on

how to build an effective State which is at the same time \u2018closer to people\u2019. Emphasis is given to greater accountability and responsiveness through participation (electoral participation, representation, involvement of the civil society) on the one hand, and decentralisation, on the other.

Yet is this a complete new phenomenon? Clearly no. Since the colonial times in Africa the argument for decentralisation of the state machinery has been current in a variety of forms. The case of Tanzania is telling. A short review is in order.

Equity in Local Governance: The Historical Record in Tanzania.
The Colonial Scheme: Local Government as \u201cthe Power Behind
the Throne\u201d

Mainland Tanzania was a German Colony from 1891. The Germans created a state, imposed on the heterogeneous pre-colonial African people, which was authoritarian, non-representative in character and subjected the whole population to German Rule. However force alone did not gain the Germans legitimacy since when they tried to enforce collectivization of cash crop

Basil Davidson, ibid.
Hofmeister, W. and Ingo Scholz Traditional and Contemporary Forms and Self-
Government in Africa [Conrad Adenauer Stiftung. Johannesburg 1997].
World Bank Publication (Oxford University Press 1997)
Dr. Ringo W. Tenga
Page 3 of 20
Cornell World Food Day Paper

agriculture (Cotton) they met with resistance which resulted in the famous \u201cMaji-Maji\u201d resistance rebellion of 1905. To counter this resistance they decided to undertake what they termed as \u201cScientific Colonization\u201d. This innovative strategy called for winning over the \u201cnatives\u201d by incorporating them into the cash economy through education and raising progressively their cash requirements. At the level of governance they created \u201cnative leaders\u201d who carried on good governance, for the Germans, at the local level. At the top of the German colonial administration was the Governor, followed in each district by a District Officer who had judicial, legislative, executive and military functions. According to a reknown Tanganyikan historian John Illife the District Officers \u201cwith their brutal soldiers and police \u2026 inspired great fear!9

Under them were the native rulers who under a system of \u201cIndirect Rule\u201d perfected by a German Governor called Rechenberg effective local governance structures were maintained. Tribal officials known as Jumbes, Akidas, Liwalis, Chiefs and headmen were bolstered, and they created asub

rosa system of governance which legitimized the German Colonial State10.

After the First World War the British took over Tanganyika on a Mandate of the League of Nations. According to the British Mandate of East Africa (Article 3), Britain was responsible for \u201cthe peace, order and good government of the territory\u201d and had to undertake the promotion of the material and moral well being and social progress of the inhabitants of Tanganyika.

Britain was thus given full powers of legislation and

As the Germans had done before them the British perfected the Indirect Rule System which became the basis of their \u201cgood governance\u201d at the local level. According to Illife the essential features of native administration under Indirect Rule comprised of 3 parts:

\u201c\u2026..a native authority-Chief, Council, or some combination of these \u2013 with legislative and executive powers; native Courts; and a native treasury, which collected all taxes, remitting a percentage to central government and retaining the rest to pay the native authority and finance local works and services. The European Officer\u2019s normal role was to supervise and educate, but if necessary he could issue orders to the native administration.\u201d11

This essential characteristic of local government has remained the basic structure up to today. Functionaries have been changing in name, authority, etc., but the essential characteristics are the same. As noted elsewhere, the Native Authority Ordinance of 1926 incorporated the structure into law.12

native authority was \u201cany chief or other native\u201d declared to have authority
Illife, John. Tanganyika under German Rule 1905-1912 (Nairobi EAPH, 1969). Pp.118-
Liebnow, J.G. Colonial Rule and Political Development in Tanzania; The Case of the
Makonde (Nairobi E.A.PH\u2019 1971) pp.84
Illife, Supra, pp. 319-320
Tenga, R.W. Custom and Law with Reference to the Tanganyika Legal System
(Unpublished Doctoral Thesis, Cornell, 1985) Chpt. V).

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