The European Union is reviewing its financial support to Tanzania over human rights concerns. Chief of European diplomacy, Federica Mogherini, said that the EU was concerned about the developments in the country – notably “a shrinking of public space in Tanzania through the tightening of restrictions on the activities of civil society organizations, the media and many political parties.” Brussels has been alarmed by the very latest developments that included a crackdown on the gay community after which the EU recalled its ambassador. “The EU is deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation for LGBTI persons,” Ms. Mogherini said.
The EU is Tanzania’s biggest development partner, providing around $100 million annually. Brussels said it would “conduct a comprehensive review of its policies” in the country. There is mounting international pressure on President John Magufuli who has cracked down on dissidents and opposition as well as media and foreign investors since taking office three years ago. The EU announced its decision after the World Bank had decided not to support a $300 million education loan for girls’ education in response to the news that pregnant girls had been being expelled from schools. This was not the last blow to the country’s development budget – Denmark announced last week that it would withdraw $10 million in aid over “unacceptable homophobic statements”.
Regarding the World Bank move, Evelyne Opondo, Africa Director of the Center for Reproductive Rights, commented that “this is a bold positive statement by the World Bank that should be emulated by other big development partners in Tanzania.” Mr. Opondo also stressed that “we already have too many girls forced out of formal education, robbed of their full potential and confined to the cycle of poverty. The things the World Bank is asking the government to look at are all within their power to address.” Tanzania has some of the highest adolescent pregnancy rates globally – around 27% of girls aged 15-19 years old. The rate is attributed to high rates of sexual violence and poverty.