Ministers were accused of “spraying money around” by a senior Conservative after it emerged that Tanzania received £200m in British aid despite facing international condemnation for election-rigging.
The East African country’s government suspended an election on the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar last year in which an opposition candidate appeared set to win. A subsequent contest last month was boycotted by the opposition, enabling the ruling party to enjoy a landslide victory.
Its tactics attracted international opprobrium, and the United States has shelved future aid payments after accusing the country’s leaders of a “pattern of actions” designed to undermine democracy. The British government confirmed it was not preparing to take the same action in Tanzania, the fifth largest recipient of UK aid in Africa, although it signalled its concern.
“We keep all aspects of our relationships with partner governments under constant review,” a spokesperson said. “This will be no exception.” However, Liam Fox, the former Defence Secretary, claimed the Government was being profligate because of its commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national wealth on overseas aid.
“Western taxpayers expect their money to be used in an ethical way,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “When there are clear breaches of political rights or human rights they will expect a response in terms of the aid we contribute. Countries need to earn support from the British taxpayer rather than us spraying money around until we hit 0.7 per cent.”
Owen Paterson, the former Environment Secretary, said: “The Foreign Office says the election is not valid and we are carrying on spending the money anyway. That cannot be right.”
An American aid agency, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, suspended co-operation with Tanzania last month. It said the African government’s actions were “inconsistent with MCC’s eligibility criteria”.
European Union observers said October’s elections were “generally well organised” but “with insufficient efforts at transparency from the election administrations”.
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