Africa: What is the best economic model for the continent?

By Elias Mhegera – Several debates are going one about the best economic model for Africa, as to whether the public sector can thrive in a modern world stiff competition in the business sector.

Mao Tse-tung and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere shared the socialist vision

Mao Tse-tung and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere shared the socialist vision

In Tanzania the First President Julius Nyerere had almost copied the Chinese model but claimed that the philosophy of Ujamaa na Kujitegemea simply socialism and self-reliance were not imported but rather emanated from within from the African communitarian lifestyle.

But with the advent of multiparty politics in early 90s, many African countries abandoned their systems and accommodated big elements of the free market economy which they propagated to bring economic miracles, but this has not worked out favourably and one just wonders why this is happening.

The Yingli Solar plant in Hainan, Africa is one the major importers of solar panel and other related products

The Yingli Solar plant in Hainan, Africa is one the major importers of solar panel and other related products

There are a lot of similarities and contrasts between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Tanzania’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), but at this stage delivery cannot be cited as one of those similarities again.

A team of 21 journalists once again visited the prestigious Renmin University in Benin where Prof. Lu Keli delivered a lecture on the history of the Chinese Communist Party which now celebrates its 85th year.

The CCP to a large extent according to Prof. Lu was a spillover effect of the Russian October Revolution of 1917 which brought V.I. Lenin to power. This development had severe repercussions to the neighbouring China.

A car with its roof covered with solar panels for generating light it has been designed by the Yingli Solar in Hainan Province

A car with its roof covered with solar panels for generating light it has been designed by the Yingli Solar in Hainan Province

But the Communist International (Commintern) also known as the Third International a movement which survived turbulent years from 1919 to 43 had a lot to do with the CCP which was established in 1921 and  eventually took power in 1949, the rest now remaining as a bitter-sweet history.

Shout-Africa which registered its presence was mainly concerned with the parallels and contrasts as well, between the CCP and former admirers of socialism like the CCM in Tanzania in order to anecdote what has gone wrong in Tanzania. Indeed the two parties have passed along almost the same ways.

In similarities one could note the prominent one as the complete usurpation of power through a framework of a vanguard party which could be felt in almost all works of life. To date the CCP retains its ideological colleges the similar of the CCM’s Kivukoni now the Mwl Julius Nyerere Academy of Social Science at the same venue.

Indeed very few understood what befell its wing the Murutunguru wing in Ukerewe Island. But the hybrid structure remains intact as up to now vice chancellors to public universities in China must have been proven to be deeply affiliated to the CCP although that is not necessarily the case with their deputies.

The situation is almost the same in Tanzania where even though chancellors are figureheads appointed by the president, but one could even trace the elements of party affiliation to some vice chancellors in public universities.

But structure of the CCP itself, the central committee and subsequent committees downward are almost a copy and paste design. This is not accidental given the long history of partnership between the CCP and the CCM from the heydays of Chairman Mao Tse-tung (the native Chinese prefers it as Mao Zedong), and the CCM’s architect Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

Another similarity is the fact that once appointed as a presidential candidate by the party bulwark, one is guaranteed the presidency in China, but also one is almost guaranteed the same in Tanzania mainly due to the working frameworks which gives them a comparative advantage than the opposition.

Now with the differences, while in China the CCP retains power over the other eight opposition parties, in Tanzania CCM does the same to over almost 20 parties, China having a population of over 1.36 billion while Tanzania is just closer to 50 million even with the latest national census of 2012.

China has an industrial base with modern infrastructure and conducting trade continuously all over the world, Tanzania still largely dependent on foreign assistance. According to officials in the Chinese ministry of commerce China has set aside over 60 billion USD in the next three years in order to revitalize the Africa’s economy.

Its investment is scheduled to be over 500 USD billion in Africa while 10 USD billion have been set aside in order to support African exporting capacity. These amounts from the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), however China has trade arrangement and policies based on individual demands of African countries.

The Chinese economic strength has a tremendous effect in its performance. According to Prof. Lu, the CCP despite the fact that it could benefit from the immense support from the well to do people, it has chosen to distance from them.

For instance, even when China accepted to adopt multiparty politics it amended its constitution and that of the CCP by a careful wording in order to avoid the business tycoons to have an upper hand in party functions.

Deng Xiaoping“The CCP is delivering to the expectations of the people, even where I come from upcountry people sense how much their government is delivering to them, it means the party is doing well in supervising its government thanks to Deng Xiaoping our former leader who called for openness and economic reforms,” says the don.

He further elaborates that the CCP is becoming more of a Chinese party, rather than declining in its popularity, partly because it has managed to put the country in a broad economic scale now being the second largest economy worldwide.

Probably one of the weakest points is the CCM relying on contributions from the business class. Immediately after being sworn in President John Magufuli and his entire team ventured in a crusade against tax evaders, but not taking into consideration a good number of such evasions evolved from patronage to the party by some business magnate.