Saturday, 21 September 2013

Misinformation is EAC Integration's biggest Hurdle, not Tanzania

Tanzania has occasionally been accused as a stumbling bloc to the efforts of greater and deeper integration of the East African Community. Detractors and doomsayers have gone as far labeling Tanzania a sympathetic and closer to the Southern African Development Community (SADC). A new term has now been coined by the other partner states to show their solidarity minus Tanzania "The coalition of the willing". This came after the heads of states of Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda and some representatives from countries eyeing EAC membership met in the port city of Mombasa to discuss issues of trade. Tanzanian leaders reiterated that they were not invited. Tanzania's East African Community Affairs Minister Samuel Sitta has slammed this as "an act of isolation" and said that "Tanzania will not be bullied into fast-tracking the integration".  Tanzania's stance has always been a gradual and systematic approach to integration. 

The current tripartite coalition of Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda is contrary to the spirit of the community. But that being said, EAC's biggest hurdle is not Tanzania but misinformation and lack of civic awareness among the people of East Africa. Many a times, the EAC has been labeled an elitist body. That couldn't be far from the truth. The bloc has turned into a boardroom agenda of the Summit, the Council of Ministers and other technocrats. Many rural people do not know what the East African Community is and what its goals are. The integration paths of Economic Union, Common Market Protocol, a Monetary Union and ultimately a Political Federation are virtually unknown to the local people.

Just the other day, angry Kenyans reacted on social media to the alleged chasing out of Kenyans from Tanzania using the hash tag #SomeoneTellTanzania and Tanzanians reacted with a similar #SomeoneTellKenya. Reading the tweets, one could see the level of misinformation among the citizens of East Africa. People know very little about one another. We do not appreciate our differences and strengths. We have become very insensitive to one another. This can only be remedied through thorough civic education. The EAC leadership under the General Secretary Richard Sezibera should aim at incorporating integration studies in the school curriculum, where children are taught to appreciate the values of their neighbors and this will no doubt strengthen the quest for regional integration.    

1 comment:

  1. The level of ignorance and arrogance displayed on the tweef war through the #SomeoneTellTanzania and #SomeoneTellKenya was very appalling and showed how less we know about each other.

    The same thing was witnessed during the recent tension between Rwanda and Tanzania, the misinformation even from well educated leaders,politicians and the media was shocking to say the least.