ON the same day the EU Parliament issued a strong resolution against Tanzania’s growing dictatorship, members of the United States Senate also released a letter showing concerns over the East African country’s worsening human rights situation. This is a second statement in one month from the US government on the deteriorating situation of human rights and civil liberties in Tanzania. A previous statement was issued on November 9, 2018.
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Cosigned by Robert Menendez, Ranking Member; Edward J. Markey, United States Senator; Christopher J. Coons, United States Senator; and Cory A. Booker, United States Senator; the latest statement is addressed to Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, on December 12, 2018. It decries the shrinking civic and political space that have been leading to erosion of civil liberties and democratic gains in Tanzania.
They urge diplomatic communities and multilateral organisations to set up a lasting strategy against President John Magufuli’s dictatorial moves, in order to make sure the Tanzanian government guarantees political and civil rights under the country’s constitution.
“This should include using our voice and vote in International Financial Institutions to ensure no funding is provided that supports intolerant, unfair or inequitable public policies,” reads their letter.
Like the EU resolution, the Senators underscore Tanzania’s troubling political trajectory, which has eroded democratic progress of the last few decades, and that they would not sit idle watching these gains backsliding.
They insist: ” We stand ready to support the administration’s efforts to stem the growing tide of repression, and ensure adherence to internationally recognised civil liberties and human rights norms and standards in Tanzania.”
This flurry of strongly worded diplomatic statements from EU and US on Tanzania does not come as surprise to those who have been following a new trend in the politics of the country that used to be a shining example of peace and stability in Africa.
Moreover, they do not augur well for the parties’ diplomatic relations. So far, Tanzania has not reacted openly to these statements, but the regime is employing informal agents on social media to dispel the “western statements” by branding them as “imperialistic endeavours” unnecessarily infringing on Tanzania’s sovereignty.
Employing propaganda to distort the human rights emphasis and to mislead the public about the real issues, surrogates of the regime are attempting to single out an LGBTI issue – given cultural sensitivity and negativity attached to homosexuality in Tanzania – as the main motive behind EU and US’s hard stance on Tanzania in recent days.
Tanzania maintains a tough position against homosexuals. Cultural norms and religious beliefs leave no room for homosexuality. But even some religious leaders, who basically oppose homosexuality, tend to suggest that homosexuality is an ethical matter involving human beings who must be addressed in accordance with legitimate laws of the country.
A Pentecostal Assemblies pastor who spoke to SAUTI KUBWA on condition of anonymity, said: “Yes, we preach against homosexuality in the same way we preach against fornication, murder, theft and corruption. They are all evils. But humans committing them deserve to be treated as humans. When they break the laws, they must not be harassed. Instead, they should be treated according to the requirements of the laws. Our development partners in Europe and America are furious because of the heinous deeds and impunity that the Magufuli regime is shamelessly committing expecting no one would raise a voice. We cannot afford the nonsense of hiding all this atrocity behind homosexuality fears.”
Reacting to news on EU and US senate statements, a senior government official in Tanzania anonymously told SAUTI KUBWA: “There is more to come because we don’t seem to play our cards well.”
This is the first time in more than 50 years Tanzania is plunging herself into such a diplomatically horrible situation.
SAUTI KUBWA reproduces a full version of the senators’ letter.