Bernard Mapalala 31 May 2011 interview JAMES BRENNAN of the University of Illinois at Urbana in the United States did his PHD on the history of Dar es Salaam. He was in Tanzania for the first time in 1996 and lived here for a full year in 1998. He is writing a book on the history of political opposition in Tanzania from 1958 to 1985. Last month, on the sidelines of the Celebrating East Africa Symposium which took place at the University of Iowa, US, Prof Brennan was interviewed by our Special Correspondent BERNARD MAPALALA on the state of opposition parties in the early years of Tanzania's independence. This is what he said: What can you say about the political party activities in Tanzania in 1958? By then, TANU (Nyerere's Tanganyika African National Union) was in existence for four years, and was already very powerful. In 1958, opposition came from three parties. The first was the United Tanganyika Party or UTP, which was a party of chiefs, white settlers and some Indian businessmen. The second party was called Amnut (All Muslim National Union of Tanganyika). Amnut was supported by Muslims who feared that a quick independence would mainly benefit Christians. Muslims would be permanently disadvantaged as Christians would control government offices because of better education. The final party was the African National Congress (ANC) led by Zuberi Mtemvu. The ANC argument was that TANU was too multi-racial and was not really committed to Africanisation. All three parties were weak, but ANC was the strongest of the three. TANU won the elections in 1958, 1959 and 1960 quite easily. In 1962, Nyerere defeated Mtemvu for President by garnering over 95% of the vote. What was the political party outlook immediately after independence? The small parties all saw that TANU was powerful and could do whatever it pleased. So-- especially the ANC which was the only one that had support--they felt that they had to secure constitutional rights to remain in existence. In early 1963, the National Executive Committee of TANU decided Tanzania would be a one party state. After Mtemvu was defeated in November 1962, (and) because TANU had declared that there would be no more political parties, every one believed it to be true. However, a small group of people in the African National Congress continued to challenge TANU. What about Mtemvu? After he was defeated, he quit the ANC and was allowed to re-join TANU. So the new leader of the ANC named Jackson Saileni became the President of the ANC. TANU said he was crazy, and his cousin, who was a member of TANU, had him committed to the Muhimbili Mental Unit, where he was sent. He was released after a few days and the doctor said he was okay. Saileni claimed that these were dirty tricks played by TANU, and insisted that the ANC still existed by law in spite of the TANU announcement. In 1963, he and other ANC supporters were eventually arrested for belonging to a prohibited organization. The other important figure in 1963 was Christopher Kassanga Tumbo. He was a trade union leader, who was appointed high commissioner to the UK, just to get him out of the country. He returned from London, quit TANU, and wanted to oppose Nyerere with his own party. That party was called the People's Convention Party. It was also declared illegal but he (Kassanga Tumbo) still pursued his political activities to challenge Nyerere. Then came the army mutiny in 1964, Tumbo was put under house arrest for 20 years in Sumbawanga. There were other opposition party leaders who were arrested after the mutiny, including Victor Mkelo, who was a trade union leader who organized sisal workers. From your investigations, what caused the mutiny? The main reason was that the African soldiers felt that Nyerere was moving too slow with Africanisation. The police already had African officers, why shouldn't the military? But it is also important to see that they were inspired by the Zanzibar Revolution that had happened one week before. They thought that it was their time, as there were armies in Kenya and Uganda which also mutinied. What happened to the leaders of the mutiny? They were arrested and tried, but were imprisoned only for a few years, except for their leader, Sergeant Hingo Ilogi, who was imprisoned for a longer period. In other countries where this happened, like in Nigeria, such people were executed for treason. This was one of the most important events in the country's history. For Oscar Kambona, who was then the Defence and External Affairs Minister, the mutiny was good in the short run, but bad in the long run. In the short run, he came off as a hero because he negotiated with the mutineers' leaders while Nyerere and Kawawa had gone into hiding. Kambona was then the number three person (after Kawawa who was number two). In the long run, however, suspicions developed around Kambona, that maybe he was responsible for the mutiny or knew about it. What caused the break between Nyerere and Kambona? People in both the cabinet and the party who disliked Kambona told Nyerere that Kambona was somehow involved in this mutiny. It had been very humiliating for Nyerere to leave and go into hiding. Another rift was that Kambona had begun to create his base in the cabinet where he had significant supporters, and also had external support from his work as chairman of the African Liberation Committee. The final reason for the break was Ujamaa. Kambona opposed the Leadership Code. Shortly after the Arusha Declaration, he left the country in July 1967 for London. When Kambona left, the party, TANU, accused Kambona of stealing money when he left. These were lies, because the Kambonas lived very poorly in London. What did Kambona do while in exile and what happened to his political base in Tanzania? In London, he tried to fight Nyerere from exile through demanding an election. He also had his base in Tanzania (of people) who also disliked the Leadership Code, as well as members of the liberation groups in Dar es Salaam who were also dissatisfied with Nyerere. Some thought Nyerere was too cautious in finishing off South Africa, Rhodesia and Portugal. The liberation groups were also divided among themselves. Nyerere believed that there was a plot in 1968-69 that involved dissidents within TANU and liberation figures. This may or may not be true. Seven people were arrested and charged with treason, Kambona was tried in absentia. The principal witness in that trial was Potlako Leballo, head of the Pan Africanist Congress of South Africa. He said he was invited by Kambona to join the plot because he had guns and men. Six of the seven tried were convicted, including Bibi Titi Mohammed, Michael Kamaliza, the Chipaka brothers--John Lifa and Dunstan, Captain Chacha and Grey Likungu Mattaka; and Lieutenant Millinga, who was freed. The other six were convicted. The trial was very messy. Attorney General Mark Bomani said there was a plot to get rid of Nyerere, Kawawa and Sarakikya (Chief of the Armed Forces). But their star witness, Potlako Leballo, was very unreliable. The defense lawyers, who were very skilled lawyers, created a lot of doubt about the reliability of Potlako Leballo. Looking back, how do you assess the performance of the opposition in the early years of independence? The performance was weak, but that was because TANU was already very strong. For a long time, TANU could be all things to all people. People did not have big disagreements with TANU because they believed that TANU represented their interests. Only later in the 1960s did a lot of people begin to have serious disagreements. Then it was too late, as the multi-party system was no more.