The issue of sovereignty in Africa is one that is particularly pertinent due to the fact that one of the key aims of decolonization was to grant African’s a right to self-determination. The aim of this report shall be to analyze the concept of sovereignty within Tanzania and investigate the obstacles that both the state of Tanzania and its people have to overcome in order to exert considerable sovereignty. This report will start by giving an overview of sovereignty and its history and context in Tanzania, before proceeding to list the three main challenges to Tanzanian sovereignty and the possible solutions that the African Union can provide.
Before embarking on what challenges the Tanzanian state faces to its sovereignty, it is important to first define and contextualize sovereignty in terms of Africa. As with many concepts in International Relations the notion of sovereignty is highly contestable, and whilst an extensive debate can be had on different forms of sovereignty, the aim of this report is to keep the definition as concise and applicable as possible. In the case of Africa, whilst states negative sovereignty, that is the extent to which they have been externally enfranchised have not been challenged, the same cannot be said for their states positive sovereignty: their ability to provide public good for their people (Jackson, 1990). The aim of this report then shall be in analyzing what the challenges are that prevent the Tanzanian state and the people within that state from comprehensively exerting their sovereignty in a way that Western states are able to.
History of Tanzanian sovereignty
In order to analyze the current challenges to the sovereignty of Tanzania, it is important to contextualize the issues with a brief history of the state. Having achieved independence from British rule in 1961, the Tanzanian state under Julius Nyerere attempted to exert maximal sovereignty by focusing on pre-colonial methods of economic organization which revolved around extended family structure. In this sense Nyerere endeavored to implement a form of governance based on the socialist concepts of serving the public-interest and national self-determination (Ferguson, 1979).
By the 1980s, rural poverty and food security concerns led to Nyerere’s resignation. In contrast, Nyerere’s successor Ali Hassan Mwinyi traded Tanzania’s positive sovereignty for investment from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. This investment compromised sovereignty because it was based on structural conditions. Whilst from a macro point of view this has benefited the Tanzanian economy (Temu and Due 2001), in terms of positive sovereignty Tanzania has become seriously undermined and is now considered a donor darling of the West.
Current challenges to Tanzanian sovereignty
As has been shown by an account of Tanzanian history, one of the key challenges to Tanzanian sovereignty is foreign aid. In terms of the relationship between aid and sovereignty Brown (2013, p.262) asserts that aid is often understood as a factor that can curtail the policy autonomy of African states. This is an idea which is emphasized by the significant number of structural conditionalities that often accompany Western aid packages. In the case of Tanzania, a state where nearly 40% of its 2008/09 budget was funded by outside donors, it is all the more important to analyze how this aid is effecting the state’s sovereignty, and also how such obstacles can be overcome.