Last week’s swearing-in ceremony of Tanzania President John Magufuli was attended by several leaders from the Southern African Development Community and only one EAC head of state.
However, the country’s inward-looking policies are unlikely to change in the next five years.
In attendance at the November 5 ceremony, at the Jamhuri Stadium in the capital Dodoma, was Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, President Azali Assoumani of the Comoros, Botswana's Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, Mozambique Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário and a host of foreign Ministers mostly from SADC.
While Tanzania is a member of both the EAC and SADC, it has been seen to lean strongly towards SADC.
Amukowa Anangwe, a former Kenyan Cabinet minister and a political scientist formerly at the Dodoma University said Tanzania’s inward-looking policies have not been beneficial to its neighbours. And the next five years will be no different.
“President Magufuli has not fared any better than his predecessor Jakaya Kikwete, who was considered the most pro-EAC Tanzanian president. Former president Kikwete was committed to it. He helped to create an enabling environment for Tanzanian businesses to get entry into the EAC market,” said Prof Anangwe.
“Regional integration does not appear to be a national priority for President Magufuli. He is likely to continue his protectionist tendencies over the next five years thereby slowing down the EAC integration process,” he added.
Prof Anangwe said the improved trade between Tanzania with its EAC neighbours was due to former president Kikwete’s efforts.
The country’s trade with other EAC partner states increased by 14.6 per cent to $811.3 million, from $707.7 million, while Uganda jumped by 21.2 percent to $2.05 billion from $1.69 billion according to the EAC Trade and Investment Report 2018.
“When you look at the trade balance between Kenya and Tanzania, it is in favour of Tanzania,” said Prof Anangwe who has lived and worked in Tanzania for more than 12 years.
In his speech, during his swearing in, President Magufuli appealed to all Tanzanians to join him in his efforts to bring prosperity to the nation, now that the election was over.
“The election is over… The major task ahead of us now is to carry on with efforts to build our nation,” said President Magufuli, who was sworn in along with Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
He went on to enumerate his policies and promised to work closely with both SADC and the African Union. He did not mention the EAC.
His failure to attend the EAC Heads of State Summit has weakened decision-making at the Community, which has a backlog of both administrative and operational decisions suspended due to lack of consensus.
Chadema’s presidential candidate and opposition leader Tundu Lissu warned that President Magufuli’s presidency had damaged international relations, including the EAC, which had in turn affected prices of farm produce whose traditional markets include Kenya and Uganda.
In the just concluded October 28 elections, President Magufuli got 12.5 million votes — 85 per cent of the total votes polled — while his main challenger Mr Lissu got 1.9 million votes — 13 per cent of total votes.
President Magufuli praised the media, in his speech, for their role in the election.