FOREIGN RELATIONS

by David Brewin

Aid resumed following action on Escrow scandal
TA 110 explained the ‘Escrow scandal’ which had shocked the whole country. The reaction of many major foreign aid donors, represented by the Budget Support Development Partners, was to suspend their aid programmes.

Then they changed their stance. Reacting to the actions of President Kikwete in dismissing or accepting the resignations of the Attorney General and other senior ministers and officials involved in the scandal, on 11 March Finance Minister Saada Mkuya was able to announce that the BSDP were now satisfied with the government’s handling of the scandal. Finnish Ambassador Sinikka Antila, Chairman of the Development Partners, said: “We are fully impressed with how the government has been handling the saga”.

One agency immediately disbursed $44 million of its aid. The African Development Bank, the World Bank and other donors also agreed to continue their disbursements at a later date.

Tanzania – Kenya relations deteriorate
For several months relations between Tanzania and Kenya have not been as warm as they used to be. Kenya took a first hostile step by introducing a ban on Tanzanian tourist vehicles from accessing Kenyan airports and tourist sites.

Tanzania retaliated by cutting Kenya Airways lucrative flights from Kenya to Tanzania from 42 per week to just 14. This must have been a shock to Kenya, as its airline already faces other serious problems.
Tanzania has been concerned about Kenya’s hard line stance on issues surrounding the Bilateral Air Services Agreement. Discussions have been under way for eight years without result and Kenya refuses to let the Dar-based airline Fastjet from using Nairobi airport. Its cheap fares policy has proved very popular in Tanzania.

Japan advises Tanzania to reduce red tape
The chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Onishi Yasunori, has said that in order to attract an increased number of Japanese investors, Tanzania must reduce the number of institutions dealing with business registration. Apparently it requires three institutions in Burundi, eight in Rwanda, ten in Kenya and fifteen in Uganda, whereas Tanzania has far more. He added that Tanzania must also deal with the issue of corruption among employees of the institutions handling business registration.

The “East African” banned
At the end of January the East African newspaper, which has its HQ in Kenya, was banned from circulation in Tanzania, 20 years after it was launched. The reason given was that the paper had been circulating in the country without being properly registered, contrary to Section 6 of the Newspaper Act No.3 of 1976.

Government spokesman Assah Mwambene was quoted in the media as accusing the paper of having a negative agenda towards Tanzania. He singled out a cartoon which he said demonstrated bad taste and disrespect to the person and office of the President. It is understood that the East African will not be allowed to circulate in Tanzania until the legal issues are settled.

Needless to say, this action resulted in widespread protests from various parts of the media and others, as it appeared to be against freedom of the press. The East African Law Society was among many to express dismay over the action.

Financial irregularities at the EAC
The East African Legislative Assembly has demanded immediate action by East African ministers on an audit report that has referred to financial irregularities at the Community Secretariat. The Speaker of the Assembly said that the East African Community Council of Ministers must punish those found guilty before its next sitting.

The East African Secretariat pointed out that the audit report did not portray misuse or loss of any funds, nor did it mention governance weaknesses or executive negligence. It simply tabled findings that certain areas needed to be strengthened.

South Sudan and Somalia
As the new Chairman of the EAC, President Kikwete announced on 20 February in Bujumbura, that South Sudan and Somalia will not be allowed to join the East African Community unless they return to stability and adopt democracy. He said that good governance, human rights and the rule of law were critical elements of the EAC.

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