Re: Tanzania's Foreign Policy
GT tutofautishe FP yetu wakati wa JKN na wakati wa AHM, BWM na JMK - Huwezi kusema hii FP hapa chini ndio hii tuliyonayo sasa!
Nyerere and the Commonwealth
Chief Emeka Anyaoku with Annar Cassam
2009-10-13, Issue 452
The sun set over the British empire in the aftermath of the Second World War and simultaneously, with the independence of India in 1948, there was born a new multinational institution, the Commonwealth of Nations. The new Republic of India became its first non white member in 1949, joining the older ex-dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Ghana, the first independent country from Africa, joined in 1957 and the decade of the 1960s began with a memorable episode in international diplomacy initiated by Julius Nyerere, the leader of the soon-to-be-independent Tanganyika in 1961. The stage was the annual Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting in London in July 1961. On the eve of this gathering, Nyerere (whose own country’s Uhuru date was already set for December 1961), wrote a letter to the Observer and the Manchester Guardian which seriously rattled the British establishment.
The letter also and above all shook the South African government for it questioned the presence of a racist regime in an international institution based on the principles of mutual respect and equality among all nations, new and old. How could Africa join an organisation which had as its member a state which applied apartheid and white supremacy as its official policy, asked Nyerere. In a well-argued letter, he explained that his country would definitely not seek membership in such a case and that his example could well be followed by other African, Asian and Caribbean countries soon to gain independence from the U.K.
The case was unanswerable and Nyerere was seconded by the then Prime Minister of Canada, John Diefenbaker, who took on the task of “persuading” his South African counterpart (Henrik Verwoerd) to resign from the Commonwealth rather than face being expelled from it. The South Africans left the meeting forthwith, Mwalimu remained and six months later in the same year, Tanganyika was welcomed as a full member.
This event was recalled by the distinguished Nigerian diplomat, Emeka Anyaoku, who spent 34 years at the Commonwealth Secretariat and who became its Secretary-General from 1990 to 2000. As he explained, he had the privilege of observing, aiding and accompanying President Nyerere in his many interventions and initiatives on behalf of Africa and the Third World in general and on behalf of the liberation struggle of South and Southern Africa in particular. In many of these instances, the President came into serious conflict with the British government of the day, for the Commonwealth connection did not turn out to be the cosy network they had perhaps once imagined.
A most difficult chapter opened in 1965 when Ian Smith, head of the white settlers in control of the British colony of Rhodesia, declared himself and the colony “independent” of British rule under UDI (for Universal Declaration of Independence). The matter was discussed at the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Summit that year and President Nyerere and his colleagues demanded in a Resolution that the British government take responsibility for this illegal act of usurpation on the part of Smith, failing which OAU member states would end diplomatic relations with the U.K.
Mwalimu argued that the British should follow the example of General De Gaulle who had had to face a similar challenge from some French settlers of Algeria whose attempt to act unilaterally had been rejected forcefully by the General. The Labour Government of Harold Wilson refused to force Smith to return to legality and in December 1965, Tanzania and Ghana ended all diplomatic contacts with the U.K.
As Chief Anyaoku points out, the matter did not rest there. Mwalimu was consistent in his relentless opposition to racist politics no matter where these were manifest. In this way, he mobilised and inspired many other Commonwealth citizens. One such was the first Secretary General of the Commonwealth, the Canadian Arnold Smith, appointed in 1965. In 1966, at the meeting of the Commonwealth Law Ministers held in London, Arnold Smith solved the dilemma of the break in relations between the U.K. administration and the African states mentioned above in an innovative manner. He invited and encouraged these delegations to come to London because he took the position that the Commonwealth was an international organisation whose activities were not subject to the policies of the host government. He cited the example of the presence of Cuba at the UN in New York. The Law Ministers in question duly attended the meeting at Marlborough House, London.
In September of the same year, these countries also attended the Heads of State and Government Meeting in London where once more, Nyerere led the charge to get the British to act on Ian Smith in Rhodesia. The African group demanded action in the form of sanctions against Rhodesia but the British Prime Minister proposed mere talks with the rebel regime. As a result, the Africans proposed and the Summit adopted the famous resolution on NIBMAR (No Independence Before Majority African Rule) which embarrassed the British, if not the Rhodesian rebels, in a significant manner.
By the time of the 1971 Commonwealth Summit held in Singapore, another conflict had arisen between Nyerere and the British government, now led by Prime Minister Edward Heath. The British gave notice of their decision to revive the Simonstown Agreement with South Africa for the sale of British arms to that country. Mwalimu protested that these arms were destined to be used against the black population of South Africa and as such the Agreement was indefensible. The British rejected this argument based on the legalistic position of the duty of states to respect treaty obligations. Matters came to a head at Singapore when Mwalimu, supported by President Kaunda of Zambia and President Obote of Uganda, strongly challenged Prime Minister Heath on the Simonstown Agreement issue. In the end, the British bowed to pressure from Africa and the rest of the Commonwealth but a heavy price was paid at the Summit by Uganda whose President was deposed in a coup d’état while attending the meeting and whose population subsequently suffered for years under the bloody and demented reign of Idi Amin.
These Summits were not always so confrontational, as Chief Anyaoku points out. Mwalimu was not always on the war-path with the opposition in these meetings! His preferred method was a mixture of intellectual argument and gentle humour as was the case at the 1975 Summit in Jamaica. During the discussion on the liberation struggle in Africa, President Kaunda had given an emotional statement praising the solidarity and concrete help given to the liberation movements by China and the USSR. Whereupon Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore chided him for having “let the cat out of the bag” by revealing an open secret. Mwalimu immediately diffused the situation in a memorable and spontaneous aphorism, namely that “when the mice are out, we must let out the cat!”
The years 1974-75 brought momentous changes for the liberation struggle in Africa with the collapse of the Salazar regime in Lisbon, the liberation of Mozambique by FRELIMO and the attempted South African invasion of Angola, an attempt that was thwarted by Cuban military assistance to the besieged MPLA government in Luanda. These events destabilised the Cold War boundary-lines in Africa which the West had taken for granted and which the USA especially could not abandon, caught as the Americans were in an ideological time-warp of their own making, in spite of their defeat in Vietnam in 1975. Henry Kissinger's visit to Dar es Salaam in 1977 to meet Nyerere, Chairman of the Frontline States, was a belated exercise in shuffle diplomacy; times had changed and so had the realities on the ground.
By 1979, the Commonwealth too had changed and into this changed world stepped the next British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher to face a cast of experienced old-timers such as Nyerere, Kaunda, Ian Smith and the Queen, the perennial symbolic Head of the Commonwealth. The organisation's Secretary-General was now the former Attorney General of Guyana, Shridath 'Sonny' Ramphal, and his Deputy was Emeka Anyaoku, the living institutional memory of the organisation.
The liberation struggle in southern Africa had also been transformed by the formation of the Frontline States, FLS (Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana and Angola) under the chairmanship of President Nyerere. The next chapter in the FLS strategy centered on the liberation of Rhodesia from the illegal grip of Ian Smith who had never been challenged by the British crown and who had by now made the place into a 'republic.' In 1979, under a so-called “internal settlement”, Smith appointed the first black Prime Minster, Bishop Abel Muzorewa and began to negotiate with the new British government for formal recognition.
At President Kaunda's invitation, the venue of the 1979 Commonwealth Summit was Lusaka and the date was set for August. In May of that year, it became known that Mrs. Thatcher was preparing to recognise the Muzorewa government in spite of the fact that the British had ended formal diplomatic ties with Smith some years previously. In July, the rightwing Prime Minister of New Zealand, Robert Muldoon, came to London to lunch with Mrs. Thatcher, following which he gave a press conference to explain to the media how very concerned he was about the level of safety and security arrangements concerning the Queen during her stay in Lusaka. Within hours, at 6p.m. Buckingham Palace issued a statement to the effect that “it remained the firm intention of Her Majesty to attend the Lusaka Commonwealth Summit”.
As can be imagined, at Lusaka the African Heads of State argued very forcefully against any links with the Muzorewa regime and for direct talks between the British authorities and the leaders of the liberation movements, such as Joshua Nkomo, Josiah Tongogara and Robert Mugabe. Mrs. Thatcher was isolated and outclassed by ALL her Commonwealth colleagues from around the globe, including New Zealand and Australia.
Mrs Thatcher and her Cabinet colleagues were completely out-manoeuvred in their last-minute attempts to reverse the situation at Lusaka where the Summit in its entirety passed a resolution which led to the organisation of the Lancaster House Talks, to the temporary return of Rhodesia to colonial status under the British and to the eventual Agreement to prepare for majority rule and independence for Zimbabwe.
Mwalimu attended his last Commonwealth summit as President of Tanzania in 1985 in the Bahamas and once more had to ensure, together with President Kaunda, that the Organisation's efforts in the direction of South Africa were not diluted by British interests. The Bahamas Summit had decided to send an Eminent Persons Group (the EPG) to South Africa to meet the leadership there to ascertain the seriousness of their declarations regarding political change in that country.
After the Summit ended and before the EPG set out, the British press announced that the EPG would be led by the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe. The reactions from Dar es Salaam and Lusaka were immediate and unequivocal; the two Presidents rejected the very idea of the EPG if led by the British. Chief Emeka Anyaoku flew to meet Mwalimu and subsequently to see President Kaunda to re-assure them that the EPG would be led not by the British but by 2 co-chairmen; General Olesegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Malcolm Fraser of Australia.
Finally, former Secretary-General Anyaoku recounts with pride that it was at the Kuala Lumpur Summit of 1989 that the Commonwealth leaders took the initiative of establishing the South Commission and the South Center and invited Mwalimu Nyerere to be the Chairman.
This was a fitting and lasting tribute to a champion of South-South cooperation and an advocate of the South in global affairs. Throughout his long and creative association with the many international forums he attended, he brilliantly practised what he believed – the common humanity and equality of all. At the Commonwealth, he led by example and so shaped the history of the institution and the very meaning of international solidarity.
"Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it"/Kila kizazi, katika utata wa kipindi chake, lazima kiutambue wajibu wake na kiutekeleze au kiusaliti - Frantz Fanon