AS China expects to host 40 African leaders in a Sino-African trade expo scheduled for June 18-20, 2019 in Hunan province, it has emerged that the president of Tanzania is not invited. This is an uncommon and unexpected gesture from a development partner with bilateral ties lasting for over 50 years.
Senior government officials in Dar es Salaam confirmed anonymously to SAUTI KUBWA that President John Magufuli, whose diplomatic relations have been worsening in the past one year, will not be attending the summit – not by choice, but for lack of invitation.
He has been excluded from a list of fellow African leaders who will be discussing trade and other opportunities with China, the sources said. With less than two months to go, government officials are still lobbying for Magufuli’s extraordinary invitation to the summit.
Among other issues on the agenda for Africa that Tanzania may miss out are 100,000 scholarships, training opportunities, trade partnerships, and agreement on potential investments.
Tanzania and China have had strong ties dating back to 1960s with leaders from both countries paying courtesy visits and collaborating in a number of development projects. Of all Tanzania presidents – Julius Nyerere (1961-1985), Ali Hassan Mwinyi (1985-1995), Benjamin Mkapa (1995-2005), Jakaya Kikwete (2005-2015) and John Magufuli (2015 todate), it is Magufuli that has not yet visited China. He rarely travels abroad, but sources say he would be glad to attend this summit if he were invited. Already, he has hosted President Xi Jinping. In Dar es Salaam.
Recently, when the Western development partners raised an alarm on his undemocratic and authoritarian rule, threatening to withhold aid, the Tanzania president quickly said he would focus on development support from China because it was “unconditional.” If anything, this is the summit he would not have wished to miss.
At a time when Tanzania’s relations with Europe and America are fast deteriorating for the first time in five decades, a snub by China is another shattering blow to the country whose economic and diplomatic future is uncertain. Read more information on the Sino-African expo.