Tanzania was one of the 128 countries that voted against the Trump declaration on Jerusalem. Threats of cutting foreign aid were issued strongly. Already, effects have been felt in the health sector.
It can be said that the United States of America is a bully when it comes to matters of foreign policy. The US president Donald Trump issued a declaration stating Jerusalem as the new capital of Israel, a move that was boldly and overwhelmingly denounced by many countries, including Tanzania.
Now, reports have emerged that Trump's threat of cutting foreign aid to countries that voted against him could take its toll on Tanzania. For long, Tanzania has stood in solidarity with the plight of the Palestinians, and some analysts have warned this may result in a sharp cut of foreign aid to the country.
Tanzania has always maintained its stand to regard Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel, a stand in antagonism to that of the US. The US vowed to cut off foreign aid to countries that opposed its move.
The Economic Diplomacy Department head at the Tanzania-Mozambique Centre for Foreign Relations (TMCFR), Dr Ahmed Mtengwa, said the US decision put the Middle East peace deal at a crossroads.
Despite US threats, Tanzania has made it unequivocal that its embassy would remain in Tel Aviv. Weeks before the vote, Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation minister Augustine Mahiga said Tanzania's Embassy in Israel would remain in Tel Aviv, dismissing reports that it was ready to shift to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
Some are of the opinion that there was absolutely no need to vote since the position had been made vocal and crystal-clear. The Shadow minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, the Rev Peter Msigwa, said there was no need for Tanzania to vote as it had already stated its stand. The Rev Msigwa, who is also the Iringa Urban MP said: "We have started seeing effects as support in health services has been reduced."
For Tanzania, it is a matter of making its own autonomous decisions as a sovereign state regarding foreign policy, while at the same time not interfering in the internal matters of any countries. Prof Mwesiga Baregu, of St Augustine University of Tanzania, believes it is important for the country to stick to its economic diplomacy policy while defending the Palestinian cause.
"Although there is a price to pay, it's necessary for us to come forward and make our position known globally. Since we are independent then our stand should be respected however it's against that of the US," he said.
It is now becoming clear that in most instances, foreign aid is now being used as a means of leverage to dictate the terms of foreign policy to the dependent states. Foreign aid is an instrument used to wield global power.
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