Thursday, 31 October 2013

Why Tanzania is being excluded from the EAC

After posting a comment on my Facebook page on Tanzania's exclusion from the East African Community, one of my friends quickly reminded me of what has become a common phrase that "Tanzania is dragging its feet and we shall move on without you". Well, the threats are coming to fruition, with the rapid rise of "the coalition of the willing" of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda and most recently South Sudan. The coalition of the willing is a phrase that has been coined to refer to the commitments of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to go it alone without Tanzania and Burundi. See my previous analysis on EAC woes here.

Having bilateral or for this case, trilateral meetings between and amongst states within the East African Community setup is not a problem. The Treaty of the EAC however, in Article 6 on the fundamental principles of the Community, is governed on mutual trust, political will and sovereign equality; peaceful coexistence and good neighborliness; and peaceful settlement of disputes. What Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are doing is right pursuant to their national interests but not within the spirit of the Treaty. The Treaty establishes key organs which aid the running and operations of the bloc. These include; the summit, the council, the coordination committee, sectoral committees among eight other institutions. The summit which is composed of the Heads of States meet at least once a year to map and discuss important issues concerning the community. The recent meetings by the heads of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda dubbed as integration summits can be described as a mini summits. Tanzania has now been excluded from these meetings in three occasions now. They first met in Uganda, then in Mombasa and this week met in Kigali. It is no brainer that there is a deliberate attempt to exclude Tanzania and Burundi from "their" affairs.  The coordination committee which is made up of permanent secretaries responsible in respective country's EAC ministry is involved in the coordination of activities agreed by the summit and the council. The sectoral committee is involved in different sectors concerning the community such as infrastructure. The actions by the three countries which were centered on infrastructure should have involved both the coordination committee and the sectoral committee as agreed by the Treaty.

South Sudan has been seeking to join the EAC. This was evidenced by the attendance of Salva Kiir, the President of South Sudan. Article 3 of the Treaty talks about membership and conditions for admitting a new member. In Article 3 (2) states that "The Partner States may, upon such terms and in such manner as they may determine, together negotiate with any foreign country the granting of membership to, or association of that country with, the Community or its participation in any of the activities of the Community. The meeting of the three states with South Sudan could be interpreted as going against the provisions of the Treaty since not all partner states were present when meeting South Sudan even if the subject of discussion wasn't on membership admission. 

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Tanzania's East African Cooperation Minister Samuel Sitta threw spanner into the works when he said Tanzania's cooperation with DRC and Burundi was feasible. Mr. Sitta went on to say that Dar could divorce itself from the community. Methinks that he was just trying to be cynical whilst trying to flex Tanzania's muscles. Tanzania and Rwanda have had simmering tensions ever since President Kikwete called for Kigali to negotiate with the rebel outfit FDLR. Tanzania went forth to send her troops as part of the UN intervention brigade to DRC to help neutralize armed groups in the Eastern part of DRC. This did not auger well with Rwanda's president Paul Kagame. Tanzania has also been carrying out a nationwide operation to weed out illegal immigrants with many Rwandans falling victims. This also heightened the tensions.

Tanzania remains an integral component of the East African Community and a reliable partner. With Tanzania sharing a border with all the other four states, its influence remains very important.

8 comments:

  1. My friend Deco - I agree with most of your well though sentiments. However, I will differ with you when it comes to the intent. There is no intention amongst members to isolate Tanzania, I would say Tanzania is isolating itself. Tanzania is not sure whether it wants to be in the E.A.C or SADC. Tanzania's leaders ore blowing hot and cold over the issue. These are vital and urgent projects that cannot wait for Tanzania to make up its mind where it interest lie. The political explanation has been that Tanzania sees the rest, especially Kenya as a competitor, rather than a partner ans slowing progress by always asking, who benefits more..I hope Tanzania doesn't opt out of E.AC but if it wants to stay, it is prudent that they work with the rest for the interest of the EA.C.

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  2. Well elaborated Mr. Deco and EAC is still very important to Tanzanians because out geographical position favors us to easily trade with any of our neighbors. Honorable Sitta comment about cooperation with Burundi and DRC is a great idea and it can be accomplished. On the issue of the so called ''coalition of the willing’’ Tanzania should learn to prioritize and I think what ever is in the best interest of the government is what should be done first. This whole dilemma is a proof that EAC is still not an common market (economic integration) something that I think is very important for EAC overall economic development. Imagine the possibility of free movement of labour without any work permits this may solve the problem of unemployment as the saturated markets will dispose their unemployed to other markets. I hope we learn to prioritize and stick to what CAN BE ACHIEVED as to what we dream to achieve.

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  3. Well elaborated Mr. Deco and EAC is still very important to Tanzanians because out geographical position favors us to easily trade with any of our neighbors. Honorable Sitta comment about cooperation with Burundi and DRC is a great idea and it can be accomplished. On the issue of the so called ''coalition of the willing’’ Tanzania should learn to prioritize and I think what ever is in the best interest of the government is what should be done first. This whole dilemma is a proof that EAC is still not an common market (economic integration) something that I think is very important for EAC overall economic development. Imagine the possibility of free movement of labour without any work permits this may solve the problem of unemployment as the saturated markets will dispose their unemployed to other markets. I hope we learn to prioritize and stick to what CAN BE ACHIEVED as to what we dream to achieve.

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  4. There is an underlying premise here that that Tanzania is disadvantaged, that Tanzania is a victim. Is this true?

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    1. In this particular case yes. Tanzania didn't receive an invitation to attend these infrastructure summits. But I hope an amicable solution is sought

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  5. The question to be answered by us, Tanzanians, is why are we isolated? I heard Mr. Membe trying to fuel the sentiment that we are being excluded without actually explaining why and how...to me, he was just making political noise for the sake of the 2015 Presidential race.
    The truth is we are isolating ourselves, have observed this trend while in Uganda and Kenya and even in social media whereby Tanzanians mostly keep to themselves as Kenyans and Ugandans Interact with each other...Political integration begins at the social level, if we are having difficulties at social interactions with Kenyans and Ugandans how are we going to interact at a political level?
    Rather than blaming others, it is time we do a self evaluation as a nation and avoid turning the whole country into a crying-baby state.

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    1. That's true Allen. We as Tanzanians have fear syndrome. Its an ingrained culture. We keep to ourselves and like to do things our way. Anyway you have a valuable argument which we must embrace. But that been said, we should not be bulldozed by our neighbours. Integration is good but we should be listened to. We have a lot to learn from one another especially the Kenyan spirit of work and industry.

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  6. Just a thought could there be personal differences between the President Kikwete and the other EAC head of states ? e.g In regard to ICC cases President Museveni and Kagame haven't been really supporting the cases to go on. President Kikwete has been silent regarding the cases. When there was the opening of a new berth at port of Mombasa on 28th August , President Kikwete didn't attend.

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