Why Foreign Affairs review committee is necessary

Dr Stergomena Tax, Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation. PHOTO | COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • The committee would be to assess the performance of the ministry of Foreign Affairs in delivering results on economic diplomacy and international relations generally

Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan has formed a new committee to look into the performance of the Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation ministry in what analysts say is a deliberate attempt to rejuvenate foreign policy after the previous isolationist tendencies damaged Tanzania’s diplomatic standing in the international community.

One of the principal tasks of the committee, which was formed on Tuesday, would be to assess the performance of the ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation in delivering results on economic diplomacy and on international relations generally.

The five-member committee will be chaired by the former Tanzanian Ambassador to Zambia, Mr Yahya Simba.

A statement released by the Director of Presidential Communications, Ms Zuhura Yunus, named other members as Zanzibar’s retired chief secretary, Ramadhan Mwombe Mwinyi and ex-permanent representative of Tanzania to the United Nations in New York, Tovako Manongi. And yet other members of the committee to be officially launched on March 31 include the former Ambassadors of Tanzania in the UK, Dr Mwanaidi Maajar and Mr Peter Kallaghe.

The economist from the University of Dar es Salaam, Prof Abel Kinyondo, says the formation of the committee is a reflection of the President’s awareness of the blunders that Tanzania has made in the past in international relations.

“The President is trying to restore Tanzania’s foreign policy to the standards reached during Nyerere’s regime,” he told The Citizen yesterday. Julius Nyerere was the founding President of Tanzania.

This move, he explained, is crucial to building a resilient economy.

This is because for any country to attract external funding and investments, it needs to have good relations with the rest of the world, Prof Kinyondo further notes.

Going by the government’s budget framework, out of the Sh44.388 trillion that is expected to be collected and spent in the 2023/24 financial year, the government will collect Sh5.466 trillion in grants and concessional loans from development partners.

Another Sh2.1 trillion will be borrowed on commercial terms from foreign sources.

This suggests that it isn’t a walk in the park for a country that is not in good terms with the outside world to access a total of Sh7.566 trillion from foreign sources.

“The Foreign Affairs ministry is the key to creating an enabling environment for other sectors to flourish. Every sector needs to attract funding and investments,” said Prof Kinyondo.

And it is for those reasons that resident Hassan is seeking to create a conducive environment for the country’s representatives abroad to operate so as to bring in more trade and investments.

An expert in diplomacy, Prof Kitojo Wetengere, is positive that the committee will come up with recommendations to update the 2010 foreign policy.

“There are a lot of changes that need to be incorporated in our foreign policy,” opined Prof Wetengere.

The changes range from Tanzania’s place in the fourth industrial revolution to the blue economy and diaspora, according to him.

His sentiments were echoed by the consummate diplomat, Mr Ami Mpungwe, who explained that the President’s decision comes at the right time when geopolitical power dynamics are changing with huge impacts on the global economy.

The ever-changing world, mainly as a result of disruptive technologies, calls for regular changes in foreign policy, he noted.

“We hope the committee will come up with the right solutions that will help Tanzania respond to global challenges as well as play a major role in international relations,” Mr Mpungwe told The Citizen yesterday.