A University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) lecturer in Political Science and Public Administration, Richard Mbunda, has said that socialism (Ujamaa) is still the best policy for Tanzania.
Presenting a paper at a function to mark the World Smallholder Farmers’ Day at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) recently, Mbunda said the fact that the policy sought to establish equality and justice in society made it still ideal for the country even today.
He said currently low-income earners, which most smallholder farmers are, were generally being ignored although they were the very ones who sustained the country's economy.
Mbunda noted that inequality was getting more pronounced now as a few people with the political and financial wherewithal were grabbing huge pieces of land on the pretext of investment while forcefully evicting smallholder farmers from their lands.
He said initiatives such as Kilimo Kwanza wouldn’t benefit smallholder farmers, citing the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (Saggot) as a movement which, in his opinion, would not benefit smallholder farmers.
“The Arusha Declaration, in spite of its shortcomings, aimed at elevating smallholder farmers, as currently there is no ideology which aims at liberating this group which comprises over 80 per cent of the country's population," he emphasised.
Contributing to Mbunda's presentation on the principles of the Arusha Declaration in connection with land grabbing in rural areas, Network of Farmers’ Groups of Tanzania (Mviwata) patron Stephen Mashishanga, whose group hosted the event jointly with the Tanzania Associations of Land (TALA), said farmers still needed Ujamaa because the system gave them opportunities to grow.
“We still need the Arusha Declaration and all that it stood for. It is only a few leaders who have neglected it and thus weakened its implementation," he said.
For his part, HakiArdhi director Yefredy Myenzi argued that the government and its organs were part of the land grabbing problem. He accused some executives of collaborating with foreign investors to grab land from villagers on the pretext of promoting investment.
He claimed that 647,000 hectares of land were grabbed in 2010 alone by ‘investors’ to pave way for the establishment of huge farms for planting jatropha, sugar cane and palm for producing biofuel.
Myenzi identified another cause for widespread land grabbing in rural areas as the expansion of companies following imperialistic principles, whereby managements of such industries created networks of smallholder farmers producing for them at a very low cost.
He also claimed that land grab was fuelling environmental degradation as forests were cleared to pave the way for jatropha production.