Dar es Salaam. US President Donald Trump’s use of the word “shithole” as he referred to some countries during a Thursday private White House meeting drew condemnation from Tanzanian politicians, academicians and diplomats.
The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Prof Adolf Mkenda, said that Tanzania’s stance on President Trump’s utterances has been well represented in the United Nation’s statement of which 54 African countries in the African Union (AU) are part.
When contacted by The Citizen yesterday, Prof Mkenda said, “Tanzania is part of the AU and therefore part of the UN statement.”
He was referring to a UN statement which stated that it was impossible to describe Trump’s remarks as anything other than racist. The AU emphasised that the remarks by US President were “clearly racist.”
Trump’s comments, first reported by a US newspaper The Washington Post, described African nations as well as Haiti and El Salvador as “shitholes” and questioned why so many of their citizens had ever been permitted to enter America.
However, in a tweet on Friday, Trump seemed to deny using the term “shithole,” but acknowledged he used “tough” language during the negotiations. Among Republicans, there were differing responses to the comments, but few of them outright condemned his remarks, reports Washington Post.
Botswana was the first African country to react on Trump’s comments on Friday, whereby the government of the Southern African nation summoned the US ambassador to express its displeasure about the “alleged utterances.”
Former Tanzanian diplomat to Japan, India, Malysia and Sri Lanka, Dr Ahmed Kiwanuka said Trump’s comment should be condemned in the strongest terms. “It’s dangerous when a president of such a nation as United States makes such utterances,’’ he told The Citizen.
ACT Wazalendo’s Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Venance Msebo called upon African governments to consider the US President’s words as a wakeup call that Africans must strive to become economically independent and eradicate poverty.
“Emancipation of our people from poverty and backwardness shall be a clarion call as an answer to anyone who thinks he or she can degrade our dignity,” he said.
A senior lecturer at the Ruaha University College, Prof Gaudence Mpangala, described Trump’s remarks as ‘personal utterances,’’ that right-thinking Americans may not wish to subscribe to. Prof Mpangala was of the opinion that America risked tarnishing its image and its foreign relations policy if it embraced such utterances from their president.
However, a member of Chadema’s Central Committee, Prof Mwesiga Baregu, said President Trump’s comments did not come as a surprise to him.
“When I read reports that Trump had made such comments, I recalled when he previously said that African countries deserve to be recolonised,’’ he told The Citizen.
He said it was about time African countries united in defending their democratic rights and fight for their own freedoms as they strive to be economically and politically independent.