Spreading ideology: Chinese Communist Party opens school in Tanzania to train regional party officials

The Communist Party of China (CCP) has funded and built a leadership school in Tanzania to train political party leaders from southern African countries in what will be the first such initiative on the continent with major ramifications.

The Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Leadership School, for which China has provided $40 million in financial support, was opened earlier this year and inaugurated by Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan and several other leaders from neighboring countries.

Located in Kibaha, near the port city of Dar-e-Salaam, the leadership school will serve as a platform for China to strengthen exchanges and build the platforms of “party-to-party diplomacy”, according to knowledgeable sources.

President Hassan, during the inauguration of the school, said that the school would provide comprehensive training for political party leaders, train young leaders in patriotism, assess the progress made in the six southern African countries since independence and plan for future growth. She described the inauguration event as historic and strategic for the six African countries and China. The idea of ​​establishing the school was based on the Harare resolution which involved six parties from six countries on June 8, 2012. The ‘liberation parties’ involved were the African National Congress (South Africa), Swapo (Namibia), MPLA (Angola), Zanu-PF (Zimbabwe) and Frelimo (Mozambique).

“The Chinese Communist Party’s International Department runs various ‘party schools’ overseas. These seek to promote Chinese foreign policy goals and cultivate a positive perception of China. Given China’s relentless desire to reshape the international system, these schools will be one more tool in the CCP’s arsenal. The common party school in Tanzania (with continued ideological affinities with the CCP in part) is just another example,” according to Pradeep Mehta, DG CUTS International, a leading public policy body. CUTS has a strong presence in Africa.

In addition to funding from the six ruling parties of Southern African countries, the leadership school was also funded by the CPC’s International Liaison Department (ILD-CPC), the department responsible for promoting Chinese ideology. abroad and cross-party diplomacy, ET learned.

The first training session was recently completed in June for 120 executives. Leaders of ruling political parties in Tanzania, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola attended the first session at the training school. Unlike other academies opened by Chinese in other African countries, this school is exclusively open to participants from the ruling parties. These types of training academies are a vital part of the CCP’s party-to-party outreach in Africa that runs alongside Beijing’s state-to-state relations, the experts explained.

Historically, under Mao’s leadership, China had supported African parties with ideological and military training during their liberation struggles. Tanzania, in particular, was heavily influenced by Maoism and the CCP in the 1960s and 1970s under President Julius Nyerere. While contemporary relationships are not driven by ideology and are largely determined by economic engagement and infrastructure projects; it has been argued that with the rise of China, it is actively promoting its model of Chinese political and economic development in Africa.

Looking back to the pre-pandemic period, China regularly held seminars, workshops and training programs to aggressively promote the “Chinese form of governance” in Africa. However, during the Covid era, most of these programs have taken place virtually. In a bid to cement relations with ruling parties in Africa, China reportedly invites hundreds of officials on “study tours” to China each year. This approach has remained consistent since the 1990s. Many political parties in Africa, such as those in South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, are still seeking to learn from the governance and economic model of China. The creation of leadership schools is a continuation of this approach to strengthening political relations through party-to-party diplomacy.

Scholars like Jean-Pierre Cabestan have pointed out in their research that the CCP has focused on strengthening its relationship with ruling parties rather than opposition parties and countries that matter to the Chinese economy. He also points out in his research that this is part of China’s efforts to build up its soft power and neutralize some of the hostile criticism leveled at it. Moreover, he says that the goal is not to export the “Chinese model” as such, but rather to promote the Chinese “form” of governance, economic organization and “democracy”. Cabestan noted that in Africa as a whole – including North Africa – the CCP has established relationships with 110 political parties in 51 out of 54 African countries.

Cabestan said the CCP is also adaptable to changing circumstances, pointing to its close relationship with the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) after it seized power in 1991. However, after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed dissolved the EPRDF in December 2019 and merged it with three other parties to form the “Prosperity Party (PP)”, the PCC establishes relations with the new entity. The CCP went even further by elevating its relations with the PP to the level of a “strategic partnership”.

Other scholars have pointed to these training programs as a means of permanently retaining political power in Africa. It was noted that six of the African political parties involved in establishing the school of leadership in Tanzania have led their respective countries continuously since independence. The CCP, it has been argued, will use the training to encourage African political parties to accept its political and economic ideology and organizing techniques.

Africa is thus seen not only as a destination for new markets or untapped strategic resources, but also as a vital prospect for China’s development and governance models. The opening of leadership schools in Africa is of immense importance to Beijing as it opens up opportunities for closer cooperation with African elites who are already in power or who will be in power in the future, regardless of interests. of Africa.

Acceptance of the “China model” or alternative model of governance and development by developing countries will help Beijing introduce and implement a viable alternative to Western-centric models.

Back To Top