Thursday, 7 May 2009
EAC: Why East Africa Heads Cannot be Trusted
Tanzania is a hard nut to crack. It recently trashed some proposals made in a meeting for the unification of East African Countries and stated clearly that it would never allow East Africans to enjoy the right of movement and permanent residence on its soil as proposed by other countries in this loose outfit.
To prove Tanzania's muscle, the just ended summit of East African heads of state issued a communiqué to the effect that the draft on the common market shall not contain provisions which authorise overriding of national policies and laws.The communiqué further stated that “The granting of related rights to access to land and establishment should not be automatic but should lay a basis for eligibility.” This, if anything, is the last nail to the right of permanent residence. If anything, this is a slap in the face on Kenya and Uganda that felled the former East African Community (EAC).
Being Tanzanian, I've always supported some of Tanzania’s stances on land matters. Other countries, especially Kenya, must first harmonize their land policy before prevailing upon Tanzania (the only Easern Africa country with massive land ) to let go of her massive land. Kenya (a country with many landless citizens) as well as Rwanda and Burundi have never taken this as a pressing issue!
Tanzania should however stop being hypocritical.I have concluded that she is hypocritical owing to the fact that president Jakaya Kikwete has invited Saudis to come and invest in agriculture with a view of feeding the Saudis! Why is Tanzania, a country that’s portrayed itself as the model of good land policies cascading into the same sin it’s been castigating others like Kenya and Sudan for! What hypocrisy!
This means that our rulers are not eying the unification of our countries for the good of their people. How can Tanzania commit such a sacrilege and still have moral authority to deny other access to its land? Isn’t this racism whereby Africans from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are regarded as a danger to Tanzania’s land but Arabs aren’t? Isn’t this enough hypocrisy and double standard to let Tanzania go solo with its new Arab partners?
What transpired between Kenya and Uganda over a tiny and barren island of Migingo demonstrates how myopic and short-term minded our rulers are. Who’d think such tail wagging would consume a lot of time and resources?
One would think. Conventional wisdom would prevail -as one of the protagonists to knuckle under and set a precedent for unification. But nay! What’s all this knuckle-dragging about if the tax and income so obtained from Migingo is not at par with the expenses of bargaining and scheming? Our rulers are breathing fire to show their ‘passion and fire’ for the good of their countries whilst they’re the same creatures stealing from them.
Why should neighbouring countries live under suspicion and differ over a tiny island? Isn’t this an assault on unification and prosperity ? How genuine is this unification project? When the Rwandans were bearing the brunt of genocide-where were these good neighbours? They did not help. They did not even bother to hold to account the current Rwandan regime that’s alleged to have perpetrated it. Sadly, East African countries condoned it. And now they’ve already incorporated those behind it!
Kenya never bothered to ask Yoweri Museveni and Tanzania why they supported Rwandan Paul Kagame to ascend to power. Why make noise on unification without enhancing democracy? How can you unite people ruled by dictators and poll riggers?
It is not bad to ape the European Union on unity- but we should not forget one thing: this union was enhanced by democratic leadership that listens to the people. We still remember how the French and Dutch voters smashed the referendum in 2005. They did. For, the union is theirs- not their leaders.’ Those emulating the EU do not want to face this!
Let us face it. If we need the unification of East African countries, we must play our part instead of leaving all decision-making powers to our failed gluttonous and myopic rulers.Their interest has always been flocking to East African capitals or other cities to get per diem as they do their shoptalk.
The East African Union will never materialize as long greed rules over concerned partners. Recently, for example, there were rumours that oil reserves had been discovered in the Indian Ocean on Zanzibar’s side were enough to threaten to tear down the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar! The islanders started agitating for the secession of oil matters from the union. The dust only settled when counter information emerged that there was no oil after all!
For over 40 years, Zanzibar has been breastfed by mainland Tanzania. But on rumours of oil, it wants to break away from the mainland. If Zanzibar cannot share oil with mainland Tanzania, how will it share its resources with other East Africans? If East African countries cannot contain the internal wrangles within themselves, how shall they handle regional matters?
In a nutshell, either Tanzania should be left to remain solo as other countries seek advice from their people to see to it that whatever is reached at must come from the hoi polloi instead of the cabal of myopic pretenders.
Source: The African Executive Magazine May 6, 2009.
Posted by NN Mhango at 15:33