Magufuli warns of plot to destabilise Tanzania

08Aug 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Magufuli warns of plot to destabilise Tanzania
  • Says 'imperialists' want to plunder the country's natural resources on the pretext of promoting democracy. But opposition leaders refute his claims that they are being used to this end

PRESIDENT John Magufuli has lashed out at “imperialists” who are seeking to destabilise Tanzania in the name of democracy just to gain control of the country's mineral and gas wealth,

PRESIDENT John Magufuli

citing Libya and Iraq as examples of countries that were torn apart by foreign meddlers for their vast oil reserves.

During his just-concluded tour of Singida, Tabora, Shinyanga and Geita regions, Magufuli reiterated that his government will seek to crush any attempts by the opposition CHADEMA party to hold nationwide demonstrations and public rallies on September 1, which has been dubbed the "day of defiance."

But opposition leaders have denied being used by foreign powers to cause trouble in the country.

Speaking to large crowds at various public rallies while on his four-day visit of the regions, Magufuli said:

"They (imperialists) will come with a lot of words, such as democracy. Do they even have democracy in their own countries? Our democracy is enough, let's defend it and live peacefully,"

"Tanzania is a rich country - we have all types of minerals and we recently discovered helium gas deposits ... imperialists want this wealth and they may use any tactics to destabilise us."

The president mentioned Libya and Iraq in particular as being among countries that were deliberately destabilised by foreign meddlers to gain access to their oil wealth on the pretext of promoting democracy.

He said the ousters of former Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi and Iraq's Saddam Hussein were orchestrated by imperialists who misled citizens of those countries to rise up against their leaders.

"Libya was a very peaceful country ... I once spent two weeks there. All newly-weds in Libya were given a $50 grant and free accommodation by the state...they killed Gaddafi and today Libya is an impoverished country and the people there are suffering every day," said Magufuli at one rally.

He added: "They just wanted Libya's oil and Libyans today are dying every day in boatloads trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea."

According to Magufuli, the people of Iraq are also suffering a similar fate after Saddam's forced exit due to foreign interference.

"Go to Iraq … that country today is in a mess. They hanged him (Saddam) ... and they are now killing each other in Iraq every day. You all know who caused that situation," the president said.

'CHEAP TALK'

Magufuli also cited war-torn Syria and Somalia and cautioned Tanzanians not to jeopardise national peace, asserting that his government won’t hesitate to crack down on any troublemakers.

"Let them (CHADEMA) demonstrate and they will see ... if there is someone misleading them because they are jealous of Tanzania's peace," he said.

Several other international figures have previously stated that the Middle East was a safer place before the overthrow of Saddam and Gaddafi.

Some analysts argue that Libya and Iraq would be less fractured and promote a more stable Middle East if the two leaders had not been forcefully pushed out of power.

Saddam fell from power following the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 and Gaddafi was ousted following violent civil strife in 2011 that ultimately drew a NATO-led military intervention.

In the meantime, various opposition leaders in Tanzania have dismissed Magufuli’s implied statement that they are being secretly funded by outside sources to destabilise the country.

The leader of the official ACT Wazalendo party, Zitto Kabwe, said the country's natural resources were given to foreign companies by the same ruling CCM party through dubious contracts.

Said Zitto: "I can't speak of other parties, but my party (ACT Wazalendo) is funded locally and our financial reports are public. We transparently published financial reports just after elections.”

“I challenge President Magufuli to publicly publish CCM sources of campaign money with names of funders. The same challenge goes to other parties."

“Political parties must make public where they get their money from and that will help end such speculation that foreign powers fund opposition parties. As far as we are concerned as ACT Wazalendo, those allegations are blatant lies, rumours and cheap talk."

NEW POLICY SHIFT?

CHADEMA also dismissed claims that opposition parties were being used by foreign agents to disrupt peace in the country.

“These are just baseless allegations … I challenge anyone to publicly say who is funding us,” CHADEMA’s deputy secretary general, Salum Mwalimu, told The Guardian.

“Let the government do an investigation and openly tell us who is really funding us. We know what Tanzanians want and that is what we are struggling to offer them,” Mwalimu added.

He called on Tanzanians at large to ignore such accusations.

Julius Mtatiro of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) party also dismissed claims of foreign meddling in Tanzanian politics as mere "propaganda."

"We have never seen any symptoms of the opposition in Tanzania being used by western countries. If gas and oil are the resources most wanted by the (western) powers, they will pursue them through CCM and the government itself," Mtatiro said.

"Westerners don’t need to destabilise our security for exchange of harvesting oil and gas. In this modern world, they would dominate you through your own system like what they do with diamonds, gold, tanzanite and other minerals. They do it through the same system of using the ruling party and the government and they have always been doing it," he added.

Local political analyst Benson Bana said President Magufuli's remarks could be an indication that his government will pursue a more cautious approach in its foreign policy.

“The president knows very well what he really meant and I think it was just a warning and a way of trying to elaborate on his strategies in protecting national interests,” said Bana.

According to the University of Dar es Salaam lecturer, democracy is a sensitive subject, especially in developing countries, as leaders have always been perceived as undermining political freedoms.

He said donor countries have their own interests to pursue when they give aid to developing countries, and that they use various means to get what they want, including using the issue of democracy.