US suspension of $472 million aid is ‘no surprise’ to Tanzania

Thursday March 31 2016

Zanzibar's newly-elected President Ali Mohamed Shein (left) is sworn in by judge Omar Othman Makungu (right) at a ceremony in Stone Town, Zanzibar, on March 24, 2016. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) board of directors which sat in Washington on Monday voted to suspend the agency’s partnership with the Government of Tanzania over the Zanzibar election and application of the Cybercrimes Act run counter to this commitment. PHOTO | AFP

Zanzibar's newly-elected President Ali Mohamed Shein (left) is sworn in by judge Omar Othman Makungu (right) at a ceremony in Stone Town, Zanzibar, on March 24, 2016. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) board of directors which sat in Washington on Monday voted to suspend the agency’s partnership with the Government of Tanzania over the Zanzibar election and application of the Cybercrimes Act run counter to this commitment. PHOTO | AFP  

DAR ES SALAAM, Wednesday

The government said on Wednesday the decision by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to call off $432 million (Sh48billion) funding to Tanzania did not come as surprise.

Finance minister Dr Philip Mpango told The Citizen on Wednesday that the government had anticipated the move and prepared with alternatives.

The MCC fund was meant to implement various development projects in energy, road and water sectors.

The MCC board of directors which sat in Washington on Monday voted to suspend the agency’s partnership with the Government of Tanzania over the Zanzibar election and application of the Cybercrimes Act run counter to this commitment.

Dr Mpango said they are currently focusing to fund its projects through local sources of funds.

According to the minister, the government started to cope with whatever outcome since last December when the board deferred a vote on Tanzania’s eligibility for the funding over governance concerns.

“We weren’t surprised at all because we were prepared for whatever the outcome. We will implement those project using local sources of fund and the support of from other development partners,” he said.

The government is waiting for an official communication from MCC to determine the way forward.

“After receiving the official communication we will engage in discussion with MCC in order to know why the board has made that decision and what we (the government) should do in order to be reconsidered,” said Dr Mpango.

GOVERNMENT DISAPPOINTED

Foreign Affairs and International Corporations minister Dr Augustine Mahiga said the government was disappointed by MCC board of directors’ decision.

Dr Mahiga said “energy sector is very important for development of the community and now that MCC has suspended its funding wananchi most of projects to supply energy especially to rural areas will suffer.”

Tanzania Electric Supplying Company Limited (Tanesco) whose many projects stand to suffer following the move says “the World Bank (WB) and the African Development Bank (ADB) have agreed to finance its projects that were to be implemented using MCC fund.

Tanesco Managing Director Mr Felischemi Mramba said the WB has agreed to fund a project to supply power in urban areas while AFDB has agreed to fund project to connect Tanzania and Zambia.

However, as the government is allaying fear on the impact of the MCC board decision, economists and politicians fear that the move will have serious repercussions to Tanzania economy.

Professor Honest Ngowi, an economist from Mzumbe University, said since the money were intended to fund various development projects in key sectors, which would have speed up development in other sectors, the country economy will suffer the most.

Prof Ngowi’s sentiments were echoed by Civic United Front (CUF) director of information and public communication Mr Ismail Jussa who accused the ruling party (CCM) of making decision (with regard to Zanzibar election), which will affect the lives of many Tanzanians especially those living in rural areas.

Mr Jussa added that even if Tanzania wants to become financially independent it shouldn’t deny other people’s rights or violate principals of democracy in doing so.

“I have heard some people who affiliated to the ruling party playing down the MCC board decision by claiming that Tanzania shouldn’t be interfered in its internal affairs; but they should remember that patriotism isn’t about denying other people’ rights,” said Mr Jussa, who was referring to the annulled Zanzibar election, which CUF claimed it won.

Leader of the Alliance for Change and Transparent (ACT)-Wazalendo Mr Zitto Kabwe warned that “Tanzania might experience backlash from the international community and other international body due to the Zanzibar situation.’’

Mr Kabwe said although it isn’t wise for the country to over relying on donors but since Tanzania exists within the international community it must comply with the principal of international relations.