Mired in Western Aid Disputes, Tanzania's Leader Praises China

(Bloomberg) -- Tanzanian President John Magufuli criticized Western donors for tying conditions to aid, contrasting them with the Chinese who he said don’t meddle in African nations’ affairs when they lend money.

Magufuli’s remarks follow recent spats with some donor countries, who’ve threatened to cut much-needed funding to the East African nation over what they describe as deteriorating human-rights conditions.

“China are true friends who offer help without any conditions,” Magufuli said while opening a 90 billion shilling ($39 million) University of Dar es Salaam library built using a Chinese grant. “Free things are really expensive especially when they are provided by some countries. The only free things that won’t cost you anything are those provided by China.”

Denmark is withholding 65 million krone ($9.8 million) in aid after Dar es Salaam’s regional commissioner made “unacceptable homophobic comments,” and the European Union is also reviewing its financial support. The World Bank suspended disbursement of a $300 million education loan and will only release the funds once the state meets certain conditions. The lender blocked the financing after Tanzania said it wouldn’t readmit schoolgirls that became pregnant.

Human-rights groups warn governance in the $52 billion economy is taking a turn for the worse, with authorities detaining opposition leaders and free press advocates, and suspending medical services and HIV/AIDS treatment for members of the LGBTI community.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.