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Regional Administration in Tanzania

  • William Tordoff


Most new African countries have faced the problem of overhauling and refurbishing their local administrative machinery to cope with a variety of new tasks, and to fill the gap left by the removal of expatriate district officers. Indeed, it is precisely because this problem is not unique to Tanzania that students of government outside East Africa may be interested in an account of its regional administration.1



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Page 63 note 1 Regional administration is a generic title used here to describe administration at all levels except at the centre. The United Republic of Tanzania came into being in April 1964 and comprises the former independent states of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The name Tanzania is used throughout, although this article does not discuss local administration in Zanzibar.

Page 65 note 1 Ministry of Local Government and Housing, Local Government in Tanganyika (Dar es Salaam, 1964, mimeo.).

Page 66 note 1 Under British rule—and indeed until 1964—established civil servants were not allowed to engage in politics. None the less, mutual suspicion between politicians and civil servants has been much less marked in Tanzania than in Ghana, where, in the years immediately following independence, many senior civil servants especially were out of sympathy with certain of the policies and methods of the C.P.P. Government.

Page 66 note 2 Cf. Colin Leys, ‘Need for an Ideology’, in Kivukoni Journal (Dar es Salaam, 1962), and ‘Tanganyika: Realities of Independence’, in International Journal (Toronto), xvii, 3, 1962.

Page 66 note 3 Henry Bienen, ‘The Role of T.A.N.U. and the Five Year Plan in Tanganyika’, paper presented to the Conference of the East African Institute of Social Research, Makerere University College, 1964.

Page 67 note 1 There are indeed several examples of regional commissioners becoming junior ministers and vice versa, while the appointment in March 1963 of Sheikh Amri Abedi (Western Region) as Minister for Justice showed that a regional commissioner is in line for promotion to a Cabinet post.

Page 67 note 2 The North Mara District Council, which was split at this time into two tribal factions, had completely neglected its responsibilities over the past year. It was dissolved by the Minister for Local Government and Administration. The local T.A.N.U. organisation was also very weak and the area commissioner took immediate steps to improve it.

Page 69 note 1 Confidential Letter No. LGC. 9/50/02 of 10 July 1962 from Ministry of Local Government and Administration to all regional commissioners.

Page 69 note 2 The original plans had to be revised when ministerial estimates showed that the initial capital and recurrent costs of creating seven new regions would be £1½ million. Through the intervention of the Organisation and Methods Section of the Treasury, the immediate staffing and accommodation requirements were contained within a budget of some £100,000.

Page 71 note 1 Seven key expatriate officers, including both divisional and sectional heads, left in 1964, and there were 125 existing or anticipated vacancies in the approved 1964 establishment of field officers. Africanisation of the Civil Service: Annual Report, 1963 (Dar es Salaam, 1964), pp. 55–6.

Page 72 note 1 Minutes of the Meetings of the Regional Development Committee (Tabora, mimeo.), 25 February, 17 April, 30 July, and 8 November 1963.

Page 74 note 1 These refugees, numbering more than 20,000 by the end of 1964, came mainly from Rwanda, Congo (Leopoldville), Mozambique, and southern Africa.

Page 76 note 1 One area commissioner in the Tanga Region travelled some 14,000 miles between October 1962 and March 1963. (By administrative direction, travelling must now be limited to a yearly average of 500 miles a month.) In February 1963, all district office telephones in the Northern Region had to be disconnected because the telephone vote was overspent by some 10,000 shs.

Page 76 note 2 At the beginning of 1965 the only two exceptions were the newly-created Mbozi and Mufindi Districts in the Southern Highlands, Mbozi being within the area of the Mbeya District Council and Mufindi within that of the Iringa District Council. This made a total of 60 administrative districts and 58 district councils.

Page 76 note 3 E.g. in April 1963 certain members of the district council staff at Singida joined the council chairman in opposing the area commissioner, who had taken a firm stand against tribal sentiments and the illegal brewing of pombe. The chairman was suspended and subsequently resigned, while the assistant executive officer was transferred to another council.

Page 77 note 1 There is also one city council (Dar es Salaam) and one municipal council (Tanga).

Page 77 note 2 The estimated total expenditure for all district councils in 1963 was just over £7 million. The revenue for the richest—Kilimanjaro District Council—was £537,514.

Page 78 note 1 Eventually, formal elections will be held under the Local Government Election (Rural Areas) Act, No. 3 of 1962. But the work of re-arranging general election polling districts to coincide with district council wards and so allow the use of a common register was not completed until the end of 1963. A new register is now being compiled.

Page 78 note 2 Spearhead (Dar es Salaam), II, I, 01 1963.

Page 80 note 1 A majority of the divisional executive officers employed by the Buhaya District Council are former Chiefs. Three Chagga ex-Chiefs are divisional executive officers in Kilimanjaro District but serve outside their former chiefdoms.

Page 80 note 2 In 1956 Kathleen M. Stahl found that there were 133 mitaa spread over 15 chiefdoms. They were ‘the historical units, largely representing as they did submerged petty chiefdoms of former days’ History of the Chagga People of Kilimanjaro (The Hague, 1964), p. 13. In June 1963 the Kilimanjaro District Council, by a process of amalgamation, reduced by half the number of mitaa, to give a new total of 67. At the beginning of 1963, the 17 chiefdoms were abolished and replaced by seven divisions.

Page 81 note 1 One hears disturbing stories, not easily substantiated—for example, of a divisional executive officer in northern Tanzania who was not confirmed in his appointment because he had a local T.A.N.U. official arrested for holding a public meeting without a permit (1963), and of a primary court magistrate in the Southern Region who experienced considerable difficulty when he refused to explain to a party meeting why he had rejected ‘a clear case’ (1964). Probably such incidents do occur—it is inevitable that local party enthusiasm should sometimes get the better of good sense.

Page 82 note 1 By the end of 1964, this was not yet the universal pattern, and the process of merging the T.A.N.U. village committee with the village development committee was not everywhere complete.

Page 84 note 1 There are one or two exceptions, such as the Masai District. In general, national consciousness is now sufficiently developed to allow the posting of a commissioner to the area where he is needed. Several regional commissioners were transferred out of their home (or former party-working) areas when five new regions were created in May 1963.

Page 85 note 1 About the same time, the elected chairman of the Handeni District Council (Tanga Region) committed a similar offence; the council members passed a vote of no confidence in him.

Page 85 note 2 The Local Government Ordinance (Amendment) Act, No. 58 of 1963.

Page 86 note 1 This solution was favoured by a job analysis report on regional administration, released by the Central Establishment Division in August 1963. However, a large number of administrative officers in the districts have had no more than two years of secondary schooling.

Page 87 note 1 The number of local authorities was: 282 (1952–7); 74 (1958–61); 150 (1962 onwards).

Page 88 note 1 On the other hand, the recently published Report of the Presidential Commission on the Establishment of a Democratic One Party State (Dar es Salaam, 1965) finds that ‘there is a strong case for incorporating the Executive Committee of T.A.N.U. in each locality within the structure of the Local Authority’. The Commission recommends that members should serve ex officio alongside elected (T.A.N.U.) councillors and such civil servants as are nominated by the President.

* Ford Senior Fellow in Government, University of Manchester, whose appointment has included two years as Senior Lecturer in Government at the Institute of Public Administration, the University College, Dar es Salaam.

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