Quick now…what’s the name of the capital of Tanzania?? Gotcha!! It’s NOT Dar es Salaam!! Even though that may be the “abode of peace”, which the name signifies, it’s not the capital! Fifty years ago, in the heady days of “decolonialization” Tanzanian President Nyerere was a Third World leader whom others, like Forbes Burnham, tried to emulate! The latter cogged the former’s Ujamaa Socialism, baptized it “co-operative socialism”, and defined us as the “Cooperative Republic of Guyana”!!
Burnham also cogged another idea of Nyerere’s – creating a new capital, because of the challenges of his country’s then capital, Dar es Salaam. For Nyerere, it was overcrowding and strain on infrastructure; uneven development; efficiency of government operations, and accessibility and national unity. Here, Georgetown’s challenges were even more stark and pressing: overcrowding, even though it just had 200,000 persons – its infrastructure was strained beyond bursting point! But more to the point, it was five feet below sea level, which presented an almost insurmountable drainage problem on land that was inhospitable to modern underground sewage systems.
But unlike Nyerere, Burnham was a “talk man”, and not a “do man”! Nyerere held a referendum in 1973 – just as Walter Rodney was preparing to return home from Tanzania! – on a new capital, had it approved and designated Dodoma, an inland town as the new location. He immediately established a state agency and Ministry to oversee the implementation of the plan. It was decided that Dar es Salaam would continue to serve as the nation’s principal port and commercial capital, and Dodoma would be the administrative capital, just as Brazil had done with Brazilia a decade earlier!!
Well, it might’ve taken longer than Nyerere envisaged, but today, the Presidential Complex has been moved to Dodoma to join the other Ministries; and if you want to interface with the Government – which is what the rest of the country wants to do – then Dodoma’s the place to go!! Dar es Salaam remains the commercial capital!! And us?? In 1973, Burnham identified the North West District (now Region 1) as the site for the new capital – but that was as far as he got. It was on higher ground, and would’ve opened up development away from the congested “plantation coast”.
Of course, we know that, a few years later, he gave Jim Jones some land there, and created the controversy that hangs over us to this day!!
Anyhow, your Eyewitness congratulates Pres Ali for launching Silica City from scratch as a city in our interior – away from the sinking, garbage-ridden Georgetown. But he feels that he ought to take the bull by the horns and designate it as our new administrative capital.
And start by moving the Ministries one by one to that locale!!
As we stated above, from being the “Garden City” during the rule of the colonial overlords, we became the “Garbage City” under the PNC’s long, illegal rule between 1964 and 1992. After blaming everyone else – especially the PPP when they were in office – the PNC’s Chief Whip gave away the real reason why Georgetown has been chronically underfunded and unable to pay for necessary services.
At a meeting in GT for the LGE, PNC Chief Whip Christopher Jones made this announcement: “Across this capital city, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of properties and empty lots that have outstanding rates and taxes, and by law, the municipality has every right to foreclose on those properties and sell them. But it’s the APNU councils who, over the years, have not foreclosed on anyone’s property, and the City Council introduced amnesties and they gave those people an opportunity to pay their taxes, minus the interest”!!
Imagine that!! So, they want the rest of the country to pay for their services!??!
Jones claimed that if the PPP were to control the GT M&CC, they’d uphold the law and start foreclosing on properties with tax arrears!! But they’d then sell those properties to those who would pay taxes!! Oooooh (shudder)!!! The horror!!