By Emmanuel Hayuka
Dar Salam, Tanzania, 22 March 2008 - Tanzanians have been asking themselves many questions regarding President George W. Bush�s state visit to Tanzania. This was the case during the announcement that President Bush was coming, during the visit itself and even after his departure.
Source: The Guardian (Tanzania)
People raised a number of questions and some are still wondering to date what made Bush come to a poor country like ours.
Why Tanzania? And how beneficial will the trip be to Tanzanians?
For patriotic Tanzanians like myself the question to be asked is not why he came here but rather the benefits of his trip and how the country utilized that specific trip.
Historical state visit.
``This is the first time for the President of the United States of America to make a State visit to Tanzania,`` President Jakaya Kikwete stated on 14th February 2008 when talking to elders in Dar es Salaam.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation ranking of the visits by Heads of State and Governments, `state-visit` was the highest in rank.
President Jakaya Kikwete urged his fellow Tanzanians to warmly welcome President Bush as they had done to other state guests and this was what they did. The President`s remarks for this high profile visit by the Head of State and Government of undoubtedly the only world remaining `superpower` was commendable.
The United States of America and Tanzania have always enjoyed a cordial relationship.
As a result the government had all reasons to invite a friend to the country regardless of negative views of some countries and people.
It is possible that some countries which we share good terms, do not share the same view with the United States of America.
Surely this does not automatically make Tanzania the enemy of the latter.
Avoiding the influence of International Politics
There are assumptions that Tanzania is bound to lose in this relationship.
This kind of view was reflected in some of posters during the demonstration to protest President Bush`s state visit to Tanzania, ``We don`t want President Bush due to the reasons that brought him here, which are to promote and protect the interests of the United States of America economically, politically and militarily`` one of the poster read.
However this kind of assessment is not necessarily correct because it is quite possible that Tanzania could mutually benefit from this relationship, as it is actually the case now.
In our local environment we have seen on several occasions` relationship between poor and rich persons or families whereby either party benefits.
Tanzania can benefit a lot by a good and close relationship with the United States of America.
Indisputably most of these criticisms are largely motivated by the current geopolitical situation of which some people or countries want to portray US as the oppressor.
The case is applicable in regard to the ongoing global war on terrorism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Yemen.
In Africa the same is applicable in Algeria, Morocco, Somalia and Djibouti.
It should be remembered, however, that the current global war on terrorism began immediately after the United States of America was attacked by the terrorists.
Members of Al Qaeda terrorist organization, based on unequivocal admission from Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the organization were the key players in the mess.
Those who criticize the US over this need to be a little bit fair. The question to be asked here is how could the US act under such circumstances? Fortunately our history suggests that what the US did regarding the war on terror in Afghanistan was right because Tanzanians once took a similar decision when part of our territory was briefly attacked and occupied by the then Ugandan dictator Iddi Amini`s forces which by then terrorized its own people back home.
There could be some mistakes or shortcomings by the U.S.A. in the execution of the war on terror. Nevertheless this does not deter us from being friends with them.
As an independent country with various interests to fulfill, we should choose our friends based on how we mutually benefit from such relationship rather than react to geopolitical opinion in regard to a certain country in a particular period of time.
Importance of President Bush`s visit
The visit was beneficial to the country politically, economically, technologically and socially while others thought the contrary was true.
The latter`s attitude is also demonstrated by President Kikwete`s statement in which he told President Bush that ``Different people might have different views on your legacy. For us, we see you as a good friend. You will be remembered for the good things you have done for Tanzania and Africa.``
The President`s statement bears some truth due to the fact that the USA has been one of Tanzania�s major development partners for years.
For instance, in recent years the US government under the leadership of President George Bush has provided huge financial and technical assistance in health sector particularly in the fight against malaria and HIV/Aids, diseases leading in causing deaths in the country.
Surprisingly people who have criticised President Bush�s visit turn a blind eye on such positive things the Bush Administration has accorded our country.
Tanzania is very rich in terms of natural resources endowment as acknowledged by Dr. Datmas Nyahoro the chairperson of the University of Dar es Salaam Academic Staff Assembly (UDASA) when reading a statement during the gathering to protest against President Bush`s state visit in the country.
In that particular gathering the learned Professor was quoted as saying, ``economically the US seeks Tanzania`s resources by whatever means, especially those in energy, minerals, wild animals and tourism sectors``.
People should know that these resources are nothing unless they are exploited and utilized.
Until that is done its people will not be in a position to benefit from consuming the products emanating from these natural resources we all are proud of.
Unfortunately, we lack both advanced technology and enough capital -the fundamental prerequisites for the exploitation and utilisation of natural resources to be consumed.
For proper exploitation and utilisation of our natural resources our country needs to associate with countries that have developed in terms of financial capital, science, technology and resources allocation and management.
Incidentally the United States of America happens to be one of the world leading countries in terms of technology and capital.
Thus Tanzania needs the US the same way it needs other technological and capital developed countries, such as Germany, United Kingdoms, France, Japan, South Korea, Scandinavian countries, China and Russia but to mention the few.
In similar context President Bush and his counterpart President Kikwete signed an agreement worth USD698 million from Millennium Challenges Corporation (MCC) during the former�s state visit.Funds from MCC are given to countries which have excelled in good governance and economic policies.
By the signing of the mentioned deal the country has been recognised as a success story in good governance.
President Bush gave a tribute to President Kikwete as a good and strong leader for his determination to fight corruption and it seems that is the major reason for granting Tanzania with such huge amount of money.
This was demonstrated by President Bush`s comments that, ``America doesn�t give money to people (governments) who steal their people�s money.`` That was a warning bell to our government.
It is tempting to say that Tanzanians who were unpleased with President Bush`s visit would agree with President Kikwete that the amount of money the country has received from MCC will enormously help to improve our infrastructure which, according to both local and foreign socio-economic analysts, has contributed immensely for the country to remain underdeveloped to date.