Last night, I saw from tweets (because I don’t watch Bunge on TV) that the British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Dianna Melrose, was implicated on an energy deal scandal. To be honest, I don’t know much detail on that because to understand it, I will have to get the context of the corruption scandals and issues in energy sector Tanzania. These issues keep coming back every year when the budget is read. In fact, one of the tweets went like (to paraphrase) the fight against the diplomatic mission was to cover up corrupt politicians… Well, all in all, last night tweets from various people I follow got my attention on it. (Un) fortunately, I was already having my Friday fun somewhere cool and there was no way I could switch on a TV to watch (mostly) unfounded debates chocked with personal attacks more than content an sober analysis.
The stroke that hit my mind was the fact that the Tanzanian parliament could discuss and even threaten (I read there were threats) the British High Commissioner to the country! This is a sign of how far we have got with regards to our “national confidence”, which most likely (I strongly think so) has to do diplomatic options that the country is currently enjoying. (Btw Tanzania possessed a great deal of national confidence during Nyerere regime and then we lost it after…it’s been crazily hard to return to it and apparently we are on the verge of abusing it)
If one thing, and I’ve written about this before (I think either in the Continent Observer or in this blog…or somewhere in my diary), President Kikwete has been able to fly high the Tanzanian flag in the international sphere! (Analysis of this is subject to another debate- keeping in mind that I am a post-colonial critical political economist thinker wannabe :)). By all means, President’s Kikwete’s foreign actions have been a +++ particular with the conflict issues in the Great Lakes Region (ooops, am I touching some nerves here????). Last year, we saw the attention Tanzania got with two significant visits from both the USA and Chinese presidents. @Cobbo wrote a brief Op Ed titled ‘Why Dar is Hot, and the rest of us are not’ … and yes we are hot like the hottest girl in the dancing floor, and when a girl is hot, she has many options…
My friend, Dr. Rahime Suleymanoglu-Kurum and I are working on a paper – Foreign Policy Change- Turkey Opening Up to Africa (and we want to focus our analysis on Tanzanian case)…we just submitted the paper proposal to #ISA2015 earlier on the day! And, incidentally, while I was scrolling down my twitter page, I saw tweets from Turkish Foreign Ministry account on the visit of Turkey Foreign Minister to Tanzania. His words were sweet (of course any diplomatic words are nice) but significant in meaning…he described the relationship between Turkey and Tanzania like of twin brothers.
Such diplomatic rhetoric as twin brothers echoes the Chinese rhetoric of “equal partners”. The new actors in the international community who also belong to the traditional South-South group are using different rhetoric styles that are building confidence to their fellow “brothers” who are still trying to move from the colonial category of ‘third world/developing’. The brotherly rhetoric and experience has created confidence in Africa. It has given Africa a voice on the international platform. African leaders are increasingly brave to confront any kind of diplomatic bullying from the “West” (what is it again?) that enhanced the ‘master-servant’ relationships.
However, I think our Tanzanian style (which is naturally diplomatic) was breached this time round in the parliament…there is a better way to handle diplomats whether from the West or South-South group…may be our MPs need “Diplomacy 101” courses as much as they need “Research Methods 100” and many other courses at the very basic levels!!!!
Well, while the Turkish FM was pampered and exchanging sweetest diplomatic words with his Tanzanian counterpart, the British High Commissioner was being ‘threatened’ in the parliament… The questions remain:
Is it because it was two different ‘caliber’ of people handling the two situations last night?
Does it speak of a bigger picture…the national confidence to confront the West and its diplomatic missions?
Students of IR and Diplomacy in Tanzania need to start analysing