Dodoma. This is indeed a new Tanzania which is abandoning major principles, promulgated by Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, which shaped Tanzania as it is known today around the world. Tanzania is regarded as a ‘rich’ country not because it has a lot of money or string economy, but due to its stance on defending the oppressed. But it seems that we are losing that clout at an alarming rate.
There are several signals which signify that Tanzania has not only diverted, but took an opposite direction to fundamentals of its foreign policy.
For instance, a quotation by Mwalimu Nyerere way back in 1967 over Israel-Palestine conflict, shaped the Tanzania stand over the issue. He said: “[......] Tanzania’s position. We recognise Israel and wish to be friendly with her as well as with the Arab nations. But we cannot condone aggression on any pretext, nor accept victory in war as a justification for the exploitation of other lands, or government over other peoples.”
This still forms the basis of our foreign policy but the following examples shows that we have started to deviate from these basics.
On October 26, 2016, as a member of World Heritage Sites Committee, which is made up of 21 countries, Tanzania voted against agreement to make Jerusalem a World Heritage Site status. This aimed at reconcile the city with its old past, as it was in 1967 before Israel invasion.
It was so simple agreement to Israel. All our ‘friends’ in the United Nations which we shared common position in Israel-Palestine conflict, such as Cuba, Vietnam and Angola supported this agreement and they were amazed as to why Tanzania took a different stand. Our stand as a nation has always recognising Jerusalem as part of Palestine as a condition to arrive at Two State agreement.
When we queried we were told that a Tanzania delegate to the meeting voted accidentally against the agreement and she will be disciplined. The government insisted that the vote does not represent Tanzania stand over Israel-Palestine conflict.
But this seem to be not true as recent incidents have continued to cement the notion that Tanzania has turned its back on Palestine – the oppressed. Look at these incidents;
One, after voting against Jerusalem in Paris at Unesco meeting on World Heritage Site, instead of disciplining the delegate who voted as it promised, the government promoted the Foreign Affairs officer. She has since then appointed our ambassador to Turkey. This showed that we have abandoned Palestine in favour of Israel.
Second, we have decided to open embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel. This is not bad idea but if you consider the timing of the event, you will start to wonder what we aimed to achieve. Why have we decided to open this embassy at a time when the world is commemorating 70th anniversary of Israel invasion to Palestine?
Besides, there are reports that it is Israel who is funding operations of the embassy, no wonder they have directed us to open it at this time in moment. This is another thing which points to the conclusion that we have decided to side with oppressor and abandon the oppressed.
Third, when he was visiting Israel, minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Augustine Mahiga visited an area occupied by Israel bordering Gaza Strip. In his interview with Israel state television, he did not only express his embarrassment over troubles which Israel residents endure from Palestinians at the area, but he failed to censure Israel for development it is carrying in the contested area and the massacre of the innocent people.
It is amazing how a seasoned diplomat in the caliber of Dr Mahiga could not stand with other nations which support ‘Two States Solution’ like us. Dr Mahiga’s failure to condemn Israel was not accidental, and it shows that we have changed our stand.
Fourth, Tanzania has been named among 33 nations which participated during the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, a day when the world was also commemorating 709th anniversary of Israel invasion of Palestine land. Our government says it is against the US opening an embassy in Jerusalem, yet, we attend a ceremony in which the US opened its embassy in Jerusalem!
Fifth, on that day, Israel army killed 54 people, including women, children, disabled and activists. Many countries around the world have condemned these killings. South Africa has taken further step by recalling his envoy from Israel. Tanzania, which liberated South Africa has not said anything on this. We have failed even to condemn the killings of innocent people!
These five things indicate that we are not the same Tanzania which Mwalimu Nyerere dreamed of. We a New Tanzania which stands with the oppressors.
We are no longer Tanzania, which stands with the oppressed. We are being driven by economic gains instead of human rights and dignity.
It is hard to believe that this is the same Tanzanians which led the Africa liberation struggles.
I call for All Tanzanian people and particularly the legislators to continue supporting the struggle of the Palestinian people for their right as a nation and a state. We shall not abandon the oppressed of the world for unknown economic interests.
To be continued…
Mr Kabwe is MP for Kigoma Urban and ACT Wazalendo Party Leader