Thinking and Working with Political Settlements The case of Tanzania - Kelsall (2018)


Building on previous research on political settlements and drawing on a new typology, this paper attempts to provide an improved definition of what a political settlement is. The new typology categorises countries according to whether the ‘social foundation’ on which the settlement rests is broad or narrow, and whether the ‘power configuration’ it creates is concentrated or dispersed. The dimensions combine to create a 2x2 matrix, with four different political settlement types: (1) ‘broad-dispersed’, (2) ‘broad-concentrated’, (3) ‘narrow-dispersed’ and (4) ‘narrow-concentrated’.

Kelsall then applies this typology framework to a specific country context, Tanzania. According to this paper, Tanzania has transitioned twice since the 1960s from a broad political settlement with a dispersed power dynamic to a much narrower settlement, with a concentrated power system. The paper reveals that, just as former President Julius Nyerere did in the mid to late 1960s, President John Magufuli of Tanzania is concentrating power to himself and injecting an increased developmental energy into his administration. Kelsall stresses that development practitioners who are trying to avoid these repeated mistakes should try and make development processes more inclusive whilst avoiding confrontation. This can be achieved by: providing financial and technical assistance, including local stakeholders in the policy process, supporting the government to realise its own objectives, and waiting for strategic openings.