For a country that once had ambitions of becoming a self-reliant nation, Tanzania is a surprisingly donor-dependent place.
The Arusha Declaration, Julius Nyerere’s blueprint for socialism and self-reliance, argued that dependency on external economic assistance would be detrimental to the country’s independence.
In a brief but closely argued document, a strong case was made for reliance on our own resources and treating foreign aid with care, especially shunning financial grants, for whereas loans and credit lines impose the responsibility of repayment, free money makes the recipient a virtual beggar and keeps him beholden to the donor.
And yet Tanzania, even under the old man himself, went ahead and accepted foreign money, loans and grants, in huge sums, especially in sectors such as education, health and water and sanitation.
The dependency grew so great that when Olof Palme, the Swedish social democrat who had underwritten Nyerere’s education programme, lost power, Tanzanians felt the impact probably more acutely than the Swedes.
The rightwing government that came in scrapped the whole aid package to Tanzania, declaring, rather cruelly, that we had become a bottomless pit.
Since then our education programmes have struggled, our schools have staggered along, and our rulers have remained largely clueless as to what we need to do to liberate ourselves from the mire of growing dependency.
Indeed, a few years ago we reached some benchmark that convinced our donor countries that we had become a highly indebted poor country (HIPC). And we celebrated with a beggar’s dance, bowl in hand.
Our government has continued to borrow and to receive cash handouts in what has come to be known as general budget support (GBS) that gives it unfettered licence to place those monies wherever it pleases.
At some stage in the past, our beggar practices were streamlined in such a way that we could only borrow or beg to meet capital, or development programmes.
Now we can borrow to pay government employees and other charges (OT), which gives dependency a new and menacing dynamic.
This has meant that when a donor government decides to withdraw its GBS grant, the beggar government finds itself in an awkward situation, for whereas a road construction programme can easily be put off or postponed, civil service pay and running the government cannot.
So, when the Brits announced, a couple of weeks ago, that they intend to cut their GBS handouts, the Tanzanian government put on a brave face, making it appear like it was a small matter. But it’s likely to hurt.
All this was, of course, before David Cameron made his remarks about his intention to cut aid to governments that suppress homosexual rights, so we don’t know what the real motive for the aid cut was.
African men are a macho lot, and for many the very idea of a man-on-man sexual partnership is anathema.
Woman-on-woman also. A man was created specifically to have liaison with a woman, and a woman was created as a tool, exclusively to serve the man, in both productive and reproductive pursuits.
It is inconceivable that two such tools would dream of having a liaison other than with the man.
Rather like the tractor dating the combine harvester on the farm.
Apart from the viewpoint of a woman being a centre for economic and biological production, I do not have much against those who claim that homosexuality is un-African.
But let us push this macho thing to its logical conclusion.
No self-respecting African man would let another man pay for his and his wife’s and his children’s upkeep.
Indeed, a man who allows that to happen would be considered as having been married by the provider man, call them economic homos.
Rejecting the one, reject the other too.