Op-Ed: David McAllister’s remarks on Tanzania are misleading

Op-Ed: David McAllister’s remarks on Tanzania are misleading

Dr. Naike Muhando

Dar es Salaam Tanzania

I am opening this short op-ed with Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere’s quote that, “No nation has the right to make decisions for another nation; no people for another people.”

My reference is today’s Chair of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister remarks on Tanzania while speaking during a routine monthly committee session organized by the European Parliament.

McAllister was responding to Ms. Rita Laranjinha, another member of the committee who was expressing her optimism on the leadership of the new Tanzania’s President, H.E Samia Suluhu Hassan. Ms. Laranjinha specifically pointed out the basis of her optimism with focus on the improved space in the areas of peace and security including a smooth transfer of power after President Magufuli’s death, growing freedom of speech and the media, increasing FDI’s (a record higher in 17 years with more than $1 billion in her first 3 months in office), freedom of the judiciary to operate without interference of the executive among other things.

However, McAllister made a decision not to comment on these highly promising prospects and decided to cherry-pick issues mainly from a number of members of the opposition, with a series of unfounded claims, unable to verify them even with diplomats on the ground in Tanzania.

A quick fact check on these remarks

  1. He says Ms. Rita’s optimism in Tanzania has no basis. WRONG

Ms. Rita’s optimism is rather the reality on the ground.  For example, President Samia’s first 3 months in office have seen the highest increase in FDIs, the first time in 17 years. The media is free, pregnant girls are finally getting a chance to go back to school to finish their education, COVID-19 vaccines are being inoculated across the country, among other key issues.

     2. McAllister says Freeman Mbowe’s terror charges are fabricated.

Mbowe’s charges are being investigated by Tanzania’s security institutions and the case is now in court. McAllister’s remarks translate to yet another arrogant politician pointing a finger at a sovereign state calling her institutions barbaric and unable to investigate and prosecute. I hope Tanzania’s Foreign Minister will have a chance to quiz members of the EU mission in Tanzania on these rather dangerous and unprecedented remarks.

    3. McAllister goes ahead and orders President Samia to drop charges on Mbowe

Another very undiplomatic and disrespectful act to a sovereign state and its Head of State. In Tanzania, we follow the constitution which states a separation of power between the executive, the judiciary, and the legislature. Any call on the President to interfere in the judiciary is disrespectful to our constitution, our security organs, and our foundation of democracy, the very foundations that the EU proclaims to uphold. Only our courts will exonerate or acquit Mr. Mbowe and not an EU Member of Parliament who over and over has disrespected not just Tanzania and her constitution but most African countries to date. 

I also want to remind Mr. McAllister that terrorism charges are serious charges and I pray, our country will never bow down in dealing with any suspects around such serious security threats. Germany (Mr. McAllister’s home country) supported the detention of terrorism suspects in several Western countries but when it comes to Africa the narrative is different. Impartiality against any criminal moves is a crime in itself and this is one thing Tanzania has refused to allow.

Mr. McAllister, “the brave men and women,” you said you are in touch with, in Tanzania probably forgot to update you on what happened to those who fail to follow the law, including members of the governing party. FYI, on October 15, 2021, a prominent young member of the governing party, Mr. Lengai Ole Sabaya who served as a District Commissioner in Hai, Northern Tanzania, was sentenced to 30 years in prison with three other accomplices after they were found guilty of armed robbery.

Tanzania’s democracy is not “rather optimistic”, it is the reality that the current government has done a tremendous and commendable job in a short period to serve its people and the constitution while working closely with other nations and the international community. Any unfounded claims against this good progress for Tanzania should always be questioned. At some point, McAllister mentioned that when an issue arises diplomats should just send messages and meetings, one would wonder what he really meant? Did he mean grenades instead of diplomatic approaches? Did he mean funding groups that can destabilize countries like what happened to a country like Libya? I hope at some point we will get to know what he really meant.

I reiterate remarks I made earlier. I am arguing that Tanzania’s Foreign Minister, Liberata Mulamula should summon the EU ambassador to Tanzania over these rather dangerous and unfounded remarks about Tanzania from Mr. McAllister.