The author makes a critical examination of the contribution of political leadership in the economic development and change of Tanzania since her 1961 political independence from Britain. He divides the country’s economic development and change into three more or less discrete time epochs. The first epoch is the period from independence to 1967; the second is from the 1967 Arusha Declaration to the mid-1980s and the third is from the mid-1980s reforms to the present time (2007). The outstanding general economic developments and change in each epoch are identified. A critical analysis on the extent to which the developments and change in each epoch can be attributed to the political leadership of the time or even of the past is made. It is found in the work that, the economic developments and change in Tanzania can be highly attributed to political leadership. Interestingly and contrary to the orthodox understanding and narrow scope of some analyses, both the political leadership of the day and that of the past are found to be responsible for economic developments and change in a particular epoch. Interestingly also, it is found that political leadership outside Tanzania, especially among its neighbours, trade partners and the donor community, has far-reaching impacts in the country’s economic development and change. It is concluded in the paper that political leadership is an important factor in a country’s development and change. It is recommended that policy and decision makers should facilitate a process where adequate political leadership for good development and change is established, improved and maintained. Recommendations for further studies include the need to review this work over time and conduct similar ones in other countries for the purpose of, inter-alia, comparisons and learning lessons.
Key words: Economic development and change, Tanzania, political factor.
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