Skip to content

Backlash after World Bank Withdraws Tanzania Funding

An opposition party in Tanzania has condemned death threats issued against its leader after he asked the World Bank to withhold a loan to the government over human rights concerns. ACT Wazalendo said Zitto Kabwe had been vilified and targeted. The speaker of parliament termed Mr Kabwe’s letter “treasonous”, while a ruling party MP called for him to be killed. Human rights groups have warned about rising oppression in Tanzania. They accuse President John Magufuli of repressing political dissent, detaining human rights activists, and muzzling the media. Last week the World Bank reportedly postponed its decision on whether to proceed with a $500m loan to fund education in Tanzania following pressure from civil society activists. The bank had withheld the money in 2018 amid concerns over the country’s policy of expelling pregnant girls from school. A coalition of Tanzanian activists, who also wrote to the bank, argued that approving the loan would be endorsing the “discriminatory policy” of keeping pregnant girls away from schools. The colonial-era law contains a clause that allows the authorities to expel pregnant girls from school. Activists said the law had been given a new lease of life by President John Magufuli’s government and officials had been “overzealous” in implementing the controversial clause.