Tanzania hikes defence spending


The Tanzanian government has increased its 2015/2016 defence budget by 30 per cent to sustain the recruitment and training of new soldiers and ongoing equipment acquisition.

Presenting the new budget to parliament, Defence and National Service minister Hussein Mwinyi revealed that the three wings of the Tanzanian People’s Defence Force (TPDF) have been allocated Sh1.716 trillion ($808 million) to strengthen national security operations, Sh400 billion ($188 million) more than last year. The new figure marks a 30 per cent increase compared to the 2014/2015 budget which was Sh1.212 trillion ($571 million), reports The Citizen.

Of the Sh1.716 trillion, Sh1.477 trillion will be for recurrent expenditure, while the remaining Sh239.1 billion is for development projects, the newspaper reported.
“The government will continue to invest in the army by providing it with modern military equipment for the ground and marine forces. Tanzania’s army is moderately well equipped with powerful gear which enables it to execute its duties,” Mwinyi said.

Although the national security situation remained generally peaceful up to the end of 2014, Mwinyi said the government is concerned about the operations of several regional militias and armed groups which are posing new national security threats along the western border with the volatile eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The DRC-based militias are from Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda and regularly conduct occasional raids into their home countries. “In December last year, unidentified armed men in military uniform attacked our people in the western areas and seized their properties including money. Earlier in November, armed robbers also ambushed local fishermen in Lake Tanganyika, which indicates that there are new national security threats at the (western) border,” the minister said.

Several Tanzanian peacekeepers have been killed while serving with the United Nations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Mwinyi said the increase in defence spending is also aimed at ensuring that the country trains more soldiers and national youth service members in order to defend itself from home-grown and regional terror groups like Al Shabaab which has repeatedly attacked Uganda and Kenya.

The two countries have contributed large troop contingents to African Union force fighting the group in Somalia.
“Terrorism is a global challenge. Terrorists are now undertaking a special campaign of recruiting youths from various countries, thereby spreading the global terror threat. This means that there is a possibility of multinational terrorist organizations coming into our country and preaching their ideologies which include radicalizing our youths. We need to keep our eyes wide open for that,” the minister said.

Last year, the Tanzanian intelligence services said there are indications that the Somali militant group is operating recruitment and funding cells inside Tanzania. Several locals have been arrested for having links with Al Shebbab over the past few years. The country has also reinstated the compulsory post-high school National Service programme which requires all youths to serve in the defence force before they seek jobs elsewhere.

At least 40,082 young people were trained in 2014/15 of which 8,590 have so far been recruited in numerous institutions including the defence force, ports authority, financial institutions, multilateral companies etc., reports IPP Media.

Tanzania has increased military hardware procurement, most recently taking delivery of two former Chinese Navy Haiquing class patrol boats on April 28. The vessels, TNS Mwitongo (P77) and TNS Msoga (P78), were commissioned by President Jakaya Kikwete, who said strengthening the navy’s capabilities was important in light of maritime crime such as illegal fishing and piracy.
“They are very expensive, but there is no alternative, protecting our territorial sovereignty is a costly endeavour. This is only the beginning, we have plans to bring in even bigger ships, and now the remaining part is mobilizing funds,” said Kikwete of the new vessels.

At the moment Tanzania has a relatively small navy with four Huchuan class torpedo boats, two Ngunguri class vessels, two Shanghai II class patrol craft, two 27 foot Defender type patrol boats and two Yuchin class landing craft.

China and Tanzania enjoy good military relations – a notable highlight of its defence ties was in November 2014 when the two countries concluded a month-long naval exercise, their first joint training exercise in the history of bilateral military relations.

China has recently sold the East African country 24 Type 63A light amphibious tanks, 12 Type 07PA 120 mm self-propelled mortars, FB-6A mobile short-range air defence systems and A100 300 mm multiple rocket launchers. This follows military hardware delivered earlier in the decade, including tanks, armoured personnel carriers and combat aircraft.

In recent years Tanzania has received from China 30 Type-59G tanks, 14 F-7MG fighter aircraft, six K-8 trainer jets, ten WZ-551 armoured personnel carriers, 100 FN-6 surface-to-air missiles and ten Type-63A light tanks.