A Poor Man does not use Money as a Weapon ÔÇô Julius Nyerere

In 1967, the former late Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere wrote a code of conduct for his party, the Tanganyika African National Union. The document was later called the Arusha Declaration.

What Nyerere said in the document sums up what most governments in Africa are struggling with – the belief that without money nothing works. Nyerere argues that using money as a weapon for change and development is wrong. Below is an excerpt from the document:

“[…] it is obvious that in the past we have chosen the wrong weapon for our struggle, because we chose money as our weapon. We are trying to overcome our economic weakness by using the weapons or the economically strong – weapons which in fact we do not possess. By our thoughts, words and actions it appears as if we have come to the conclusion that without money we cannot bring about the revolution we are aiming at. It is as if we have said, ‘Money is the basis of development. Without money there can be no development.’

That is what we believe at present. TANU leaders, and Government leaders and officials, all put great emphasis and dependence on money. The people’s leaders, and the people themselves, in TANU, NUTA, Parliament, UWT, the co-operatives, TAPA, and in other national institutions think, hope and pray for MONEY. It is as if we had all agreed to speak with one voice, saying, ‘If we get money we shall develop, without money we cannot develop. In brief, our Five-Year Development Plan aims at more food, more education, and better health; but the weapon we have put emphasis upon is money.

 It is as if we said, ‘In the next five years we want to have more food, more education, and better health, and in order to achieve these things we shall spend £250,000,000’. We think and speak as if the most important thing to depend upon is MONEY and anything else we intend to use in our struggle is of minor importance. When a Member of Parliament says that there is a shortage of water in his constituency; and he asks the Government how it intends to deal with the problem, he expects the Government to reply that it is planning to remove the shortage of water in his constituency – with MONEY.

 When another Member of Parliament asks what the Government is doing about the shortage of roads, schools or hospitals in his constituency, he also expects the Government to tell him that it has specific plans to build roads, schools and hospitals in his constituency – with MONEY. When a NUTA official asks the Government about its plans to deal with the low wages and poor housing of the workers, he expects the Government to inform him that the minimum wage will be increased and that better houses will be provided for the workers – WITH MONEY.

When a TAPA official asks the Government what plans it has to give assistance to the many TAPA schools which do not get Government aid, he expects the Government to state that it is ready the following morning to give the required assistance – WITH MONEY.

When an official of the co-operative movement mentions any problem facing the farmer, he expects to hear that the Government will solve the farmer’s problems – WITH MONEY in short, for every problem facing our nation, the solution that is in everybody’s mind is MONEY. Each year, each Ministry of Government makes its estimates of expenditure, i.e. the amount of money it will require in the coming year to meet recurrent and development expenses. Only one Minister and his Ministry make estimates of revenue.

 This is the Minister for Finance. Every Ministry puts forward very good development plans. When the Ministry presents its estimates, it believes that the money is there for the asking but that the Minister for Finance is being obstructive. And regularly each year the Minister of Finance has to tell his fellow Ministers that there is no money.

 And each year the Ministers complain about the Ministry of Finance when it trims down their estimates. Similarly, when Members of Parliament and other leaders demand that the Government should carry out a certain development; they believe that there is a lot of money to spend on such projects, but that the Government is the stumbling block.

 Yet such belief on the part of Ministries, Members of Parliament and other leaders does not alter the stark truth, which is that Government has no money. When it is said that Government has no money, what does this mean? It means that the people of Tanzania have insufficient money.

The people pay taxes out of the very little wealth they have; it is from these taxes that the Government meets its recurrent and development expenditure. When we call on the Government to spend more money on development projects, we are asking the Government to use more money.

And if the Government does not have any more, the only way it can do this is to increase its revenue through extra taxation. If one calls on the Government to spend more, one is in effect calling on the Government to increase taxes. Calling on the Government to spend more without raising taxes is like demanding that the Government should perform miracles; it is equivalent to asking for more milk from a cow while insisting that the cow should not be milked again.

 But our refusal to admit the calling on the Government to spend more is the same as calling on the Government to raise taxes shows that we fully realise the difficulties of increasing taxes. We realise that the cow has no more milk – that is, that the people find it difficult to pay more taxes. We know that the cow would like to have more milk herself, so that her calves could drink it, or that she would like more milk which could be sold to provide more comfort for herself or her calves.

But knowing all the things which could be done with more milk does not alter the fact that the cow has no more milk! It is stupid to rely on money as the major instrument of development when we know only too well that our country is poor.

It is equally stupid; indeed it is even more stupid, for us to imagine that we shall rid ourselves of our poverty through foreign financial assistance rather than our own financial resources. It is stupid for two reasons. Firstly, we shall not get the money. It is true that there are countries which can, and which would like to, help us.

 But there is no country in the world which is prepared to give us gifts or loans, or establish industries, to the extent that we would be able to achieve all our development targets. There are many needy countries in the world. And even if all the prosperous nations were willing to help the needy countries, the assistance would still not suffice.

But in any case the prosperous nations have not accepted a responsibility to fight world poverty. Even within their own borders poverty still exists, and the rich individuals do not willingly give money to the government to help their poor fellow citizens. - www.marxists.org