An examination of politics and political thought in Tanzania since independence reveals three recurring themes. These are egalitarianism, mass participation in politics at all levels, and anti-elitism. A brief examination of these ideas will serve to point out some possible sources of political conflict if this ideology does become a guide for decision-making in Tanzania.
Equality implies the adoption of a universalistic legal order, the application of achievement criteria in recruitment in all sectors of society, and fair treatment for all citizens. However, like many other new states, Tanzania is culturally plural, is unevenly developed, and has skilled manpower shortages. In the drive to fill positions with nationals, it is doubtful that equality of opportunity can be achieved with any consistency in the immediate post-independence period.
The Arusha Declaration encourages mass participation in political life at all levels. Furthermore, compared to other African political parties, TANU has been relatively successful in involving citizens in the political process. The rationale for advocating mass involvement is to narrow the mass-elite gap and to create a sense of responsibility on the part of citizens. However, mass participation could also lead to the weakening of leadership by skilled individuals and the overloading of the political system via inflated demands.
The Arusha Declaration also deemphasizes the significance of wealth, education, skill, or other such values in the recruitment of leaders. The objective is to discourage elitism and all forms of elitist behavior on the part of the leadership.