President Kikwete paid an official visit to Britain at the invitation of Tony Blair in January.
Speaking during a dinner on January 15 hosted by the Britain Tanzania Society in his honour, he commended the Society’s continued support to Tanzania’s economic development, terming the society members ‘ambassadors of goodwill.’ “One may be tempted to say that BTS is yet another Tanzanian mission in the United Kingdom. You have acted as our goodwill ambassadors, over and above your efforts to support the development activities of Tanzania”. He said the society’s senior members were not just working towards sensitising retired people to be active in the pursuit of economic stability in Tanzania by soliciting aid, but were also encouraging Tanzanian students in Britain to join in these efforts.
Mr Kikwete said he felt proud and encouraged to see BTS members so committed to helping out in key areas of service delivery in Tanzania, particularly in the education, health and other social service sectors. The President also briefed BTS members on current challenges facing Tanzania. A full account of the dinner is in the current issue of the Newsletter of the BTS – Editor.
President Kikwete in London (photos Issah Michuzi)
The President later addressed a meeting of Tanzanians living in Britain. He said that his promise to help solve the Zanzibar impasse had taken time and some people had even lost hope. But in the end CCM had agreed on what was to be done. He said it was a ‘win win situation’, adding that people could expect to see early action. He was right. Three days later the meeting between CCM and CUF took place (see above).
Earlier, presenting a paper at a forum on African Development and Public Sector Reform at Chatham House, which was attended by politicians, academics, researchers, businesspeople and ambassadors from Africa and Europe, President Kikwete said the reform was aimed at improving productivity in the public service, bringing in new ideas as well as offering better pay to civil servants.
President Kikwete also held talks with UK businesspeople and invited them to invest in Tanzania, especially in the financial sector.
When the President met Britain’s Secretary for International Development Hilary Benn he was told that Britain would contribute £105 million to Tanzania’s 2007/8 budget, up from the original £90 million. It was to help the country’s poverty alleviation efforts.
When heads of state are invited on official visits to Britain they are normally allowed a little time off. President Kikwete decided to spend an afternoon watching English football. Newcastle United were playing Tottenham Hotspurs. It was a very lively match. I tried to find out from his entourage which team he had been supporting. They were not sure but thought it was Newcastle. Newcastle is the one team I once supported actively – when I was a student – and I was rather pleased that the President had been cheering for the same team. After the BTS dinner I asked him which team it was. To my disappointment he said Tottenham. The next day he met Prime Minister Blair and the media published pictures of him receiving a present of a Newcastle supporter’s shirt. Tony Blair can be very persuasive. Perhaps he changed the President’s mind! – Editor.