China Opens Communism School for Politicians in Africa

Natangue Ithete, assistant chief whip of the SWAPO Party, speaks during a seminar in Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Leadership School in Coast region, Tanzania on June 14, 2022. TO GO WITH "Xiplomacy: Xi's reply inspires African youths to promote China-Africa cooperation" (Photo by Xinhua via Getty Images)
Xinhua via Getty Images

A Chinese government-funded school touting the precepts of China’s ruling Communist Party recently opened near Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Tuesday, noting that the facility teaches “leadership” skills to local African politicians.

“Future leaders from ruling political parties in Tanzania, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola have attended their first session at a training school funded with US$40 million support from China’s Communist Party,” the newspaper reported on June 21, adding that the assembly took place sometime this month.

Ruling political parties from each of the southern African countries associated with the school’s first session helped finance the facility’s construction.

David Shinn, a professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, noted on Tuesday that “all six of the African political parties involved in the training had ruled their respective countries without interruption since independence.”

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) via video link in Beijing on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. China has pledged to donate 600 million doses of its COVID vaccines to Africa as the world grapples with the unequal distribution of the shots between rich and poor countries. (Huang Jingwen/Xinhua via AP)

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) via video link in Beijing on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. (Huang Jingwen/Xinhua via AP)

Shinn told the SCMP it was likely that some of the participating ruling parties angled for “tangible contributions such as office equipment and party vehicles” during the training session.

The Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Leadership School is located in the Tanzanian town of Kibaha roughly 25 miles east of Dar es Salaam. China’s ruling Communist Party provided additional financial support for the institution’s opening through its International Liaison Department, which is a bureaucracy charged with promoting Chinese political ideology abroad.

“The school provides a platform for China to enhance exchanges with leaders as a form of ‘party-to-party diplomacy,'” according to the Hong Kong-based SCMP.

“[I]n Africa as a whole — including north Africa — the Chinese Communist Party has set up relations with 110 political parties in 51 countries out of 54, as laid out in a white paper issued by Beijing at the end of the 8th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Dakar [Senegal] in November [2021],” the SCMP paraphrased Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a Hong Kong-based academic, as saying in a recent research paper published by the National Bureau of Asian Research.

The six parties that helped finance the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Leadership School in Tanzania are “the Revolutionary Party of Tanzania, the African National Congress of South Africa, the Mozambique Liberation Front Party and the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, the SWAPO Party of Namibia and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front,” the state-run China Global Television Network (CGTN) observed on February 23 while reporting on the facility’s inauguration.

CGTN at the time published excerpts from a letter written by Chinese dictator Xi Jinping in which he congratulated the relevant African parties on the school’s opening both “on behalf of the CPC [Communist Party of China] as well as in his own name.”

“The Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Leadership School will provide an important platform for the six parties to improve their governing capacity and will play an active role in promoting the development and revitalization of their respective countries,” Xi said in the letter.

During the school’s inauguration ceremony, which took place sometime in late February or early March, the leaders of the African political parties involved “said the six parties will enhance their cooperation with China on poverty alleviation, COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] response and the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future,” the People’s Daily, which is the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, reported on March 4.

China has long used its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to infuse the political ideology of its ruling Communist Party into the governments of foreign nations, thus expanding the Party’s influence worldwide. The BRI allows China’s government to fund infrastructure projects in developing or lower-income nations, often through dubious loan structures that may leave participant governments dangerously indebted to Beijing. Tanzania, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Angola are all established members of China’s BRI.

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