FOREIGN RELATIONS

by David Brewin

Reactions to the Zanzibar election results
Following the second Zanzibar elections, relations between Tanzania and the western powers (the USA and EU) have cooled.

Among the many changes being proposed and/or implemented under the new Magufuli regime, the government has announced restrictions on the movement of diplomatic personnel and consular staff as well as the staff of international aid, other aid agencies and other organisations.
In future, they will have to obtain government clearance for all their planned activities, including any meetings with leaders of various political parties. They will also have to seek permission from the Ministry of Foreign affairs before travelling upcountry and meeting local government authorities. The government said that this is normal diplomatic practice.

The government was not pleased by the action of 17 Western countries
in issuing a statement asking President Magufuli to intervene in solving the electoral controversy in Zanzibar.

Burundi Refugees
The post election stalemate in Burundi continues to cause concern in Tanzania because of the number of refugees crossing over the border from Burundi. Some 85,000 are understood to have been registered. Some of the old refugee camps in Tanzania are being used again but there is overcrowding and a lack of hygiene as there is an acute water shortage in the border area. The refugees are said to have no fire wood and their make-shift shelters cannot withstand rain storms. A statement by the UN Office in Tanzania has said that $11 million have been allocated to respond to urgent needs.

The media
At almost the same time as The East African was being allowed to be sold again in Tanzania, another ban was imposed on the Swahili weekly newspaper Mawio, which was accused of publishing seditious material. The new Information Minister Nape Nnauye said that the paper had published alarming and inciting content over the elections.

International praise for the President
Tanzania’s new president has been receiving plaudits from around the world for what he has achieved in attacking corruption and reducing unnecessary government expenditure in a very short period of time.

The founding Father of the Country, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, who ruled Tanzania in the days when Apartheid still existed in South Africa, always tended to put foreign policy at the top of his list of priorities as he used his influence to bring about the fall of the Portuguese Empire in Mozambique and Angola, and brought China into Africa to help build the Tazara railway. Succeeding Presidents followed his example by making sure that Tanzania’s voice was heard around the world. In the first days of President Magufuli’s rule, however, he has indicated that he has other immediate priorities.

Since his inauguration, there have been four global summits and a mini- SADC summit, none of which he attended. There have also been the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Summit (CHOGM) held in Malta in November 2015; the Paris Climate Change Summit in December 2015; the Africa-China Summit in South Africa in December 2015; and the African Union Summit in January 2016. The first two were attended by the Tanzanian ambassadors in London and Paris respectively. The other two were attended by the new Tanzanian Vice-President, Samia Suluhu Hassan. A mini summit of the SADC organ on peace and security in Botswana in December, was attended by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa. By the President not attending the CHOGM summit in Malta and cutting the size of Tanzania’s delegation from 55 to only 4, the government saved an estimated TSh 750 million.

As regards the African Union (AU) two summits are held each year compared with its predecessor (the OAU) which held only one. A Tanzanian proposal to reduce it to once every two years was rejected by other members.

President Magufuli did not attend his regular annual meeting with members of the diplomatic corps at State House in Dar es Salaam in February 2016, although he was represented by his Minister for Foreign Affairs.

As far as Zanzibar is concerned, the President has presided over several meetings to try and resolve the situation but the participants were unable to reach a compromise solution.

Foreign aid
The results of the second Zanzibar election have caused much dismay in America and Europe and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which controls most of America’s $472,000 aid programme (this year), immediately stopped aid. This had to be done because, under US law, these funds can only be provided to countries with clearly democratically elected governments.

Finance Minister Philip Mpango reacted by saying that the government had anticipated the move by the MCC and had worked out alternatives. Dr. Mpango stated that Tanzania was looking for other funding for the projects and added that when President Magufuli took office he had laid emphasis on revenue collection with the aim of reducing dependency on foreign aid.

He said that he hoped to engage in discussions with the MCC in order to know why it had made its decision and what Tanzania should do in order to be reconsidered.

The MCC also sought assurances from Tanzania that the new Cyber Crimes Act would not be used to limit freedom of expression and association.

The US claimed that Tanzania had moved forward with a new election in Zanzibar that was neither inclusive nor representative, despite the repeated concerns expressed by the US government and the international community. Tanzania had also not taken measures to ensure that freedom of expression and association were respected in the implementation of the Cyber Crimes Act.

Expulsion of Foreign Teachers
It is reported that an estimated 5,000 teachers said to be illegal immigrants, most of whom came from the East African region, are to be expelled from the country. This has caused concern amongst educators. Private schools are largely dependent on foreign teachers, particularly for English and Science, and these expulsions are expected to have a major negative impact on private English Medium schools.

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