The participation of President Kikwete at the G8 Summit in the USA in May gave the Citizen the opportunity to both praise and criticise his performance as Head of State.
Describing him as the ‘Darling of the West’ and as highly regarded in international circles, the writers said that this was in fairly sharp contrast with how he was viewed back home. (This is not exactly unusual! – Editor) The Tanzanian leader, they went on, has cause to believe that invitations to high-profile forums represent an acknowledgement by the world’s political and economic movers and shakers that his administration has delivered and deserves praise within the country and abroad.
Further extracts from the analysis: ‘President Kikwete is one of the few leaders in the African continent, as well as in the broader developing world, who catches the eye of those wielders of influence, the likes of whom he rubbed shoulders with at the Camp David gathering in Maryland., USA……
‘This latest trip also serves to consolidate the record of ….. Tanzania’s most travelled president – but a record that some quarters dismiss as a disgrace rather than as something praiseworthy…. Critics attribute Tanzania’s current economic and welfare woes to his frequent highly costly foreign trips, in spite of the shaky state of the economy, the growing rate of unemployment, occasional political uncertainties and social upheavals…. an inability by the Treasury to pay civil servants’ salaries on time, and the constant budgetary constraints. The usually big presidential entourages also raise eyebrows over whether they yield tangible benefits….
‘To this school of thought, Mr Kikwete has so far been a let-down and there is little hope of him turning into reality his much-touted election campaign slogan ‘prosperity for all’ within the remaining three years of his second and final tenure at State House. On an extreme note, the group has reached a point of dubbing him the ‘tourist head of state’…. they fail to understand why donors rate him so highly when many people in the country can hardly afford two decent meals in a day, despite the country possessing abundant natural resources. And despite Tanzania being the second top recipient of aid, the country is yet to mark the credible economic growth rates that are required to uplift the majority of people from abject poverty.’
‘Mr Kikwete became president through a popular vote in 2005 after he scooped a landslide victory of 80.2% but …. his popularity has since slipped. Going by the results of the 2010 General Election, that could be true since he won the presidential race by 60.2%, which is a huge percentage point slide.’