TANZANIA is well positioned to influence more agenda items in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), thanks to Tanzanians reigning in the regional block’s four key institutions.
SADC comprises of eight institutions— the summit of heads of state and government, tribunal, council of ministers, organ on politics, defence and security cooperation, sectoral or cluster ministerial committees, SADC secretariat, standing committee of senior officials and SADC national committees.
The community over the weekend handed over the SADC Summit chairmanship to President John Magufuli, automatically transferring the chairmanships of the council of ministers and standing committee of senior officials to Tanzanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Prof Palamagamba Kabudi and Permanent Secretary in the ministry Dr Faraji Mnyepe, respectively.
Coincidentally, the appointments of the three heads of SADC institutions came amid SADC Secretariat being under another Tanzanian, Dr Stergomena Tax.
The secretariat is the principal executive institution of the community in charge of strategic planning, facilitation and coordination as well as management of all SADC programmes.
On other hand, the SADC business community appointed the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) Executive Director, Mr Godfrey Simbeye, as its new chairperson.
Diplomacy Expert Dr Kitojo Wetengere argued that since a big chunk of SADC leadership has come under Tanzanians, many issues that the government has been fighting for or against will easily become regional matters.
He cited the industrialisation agenda, which the current government is striving to implement since it came to power. “Increased interactions between Tanzania and other SADC countries will stimulate borrowing of skills and expertise from those countries,” Dr Wetengere said.
He said Tanzanians occupying the four key positions is great opportunity for the country to benefit by pushing its agenda in the regional body. “We expect to see our policies extended and going beyond borders,” he projected.
Tanzania-Mozambique Centre for Foreign Relations Lecturer Deus Kibamba said with all the four key posts, things will move well for Tanzania during the next one year.
He was of the view that since the SADC chief executive is the Tanzanian, she knows well the new chairperson with whom she is going to work.
“Dr Tax had served several posts in the government when Dr Magufuli also was minister for different ministries, so she will not take long time to understand what he wants,” Mr Kibamba said, adding that with four key posts under Tanzanians, the country’s industrialisation agenda will easily get its way into SADC.
He further said the spread of Kiswahili will further be enforced within the next one year of Dr Magufuli’s leadership in SADC.
However, Dr Benson Bana had different views, arguing that although the executive secretary post is under Tanzanian, it may not make big difference because that is executive post, which only implements what the summit has agreed.
“If the executive secretary will be allowed to vote in the summit, at least that will add more votes for Tanzania’s advocated issues, but she only supervises implementation of the summit resolutions,” Dr Bana argued.