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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Why The East African Political Federation Is Dead In The Water

When former powerful Attorney General and later cabinet minister, Charles Mugane Njonjo issued a statement recently where he did not mince any words in saying that the proposed East African Federation was a waste of time, many Kenyans did not agree with his views. Especially when it is quite clear that he was one of the main powerful characters in President Kenyatta's government who pushed for the breaking of the then East African Community in 1977.

However the truth is that Njonjo knows a few things that many ordinary Kenyans do not know. And that is the fact that Tanzania was slowing down progress in the community considerably.

Ironically the current fast tracking initiative for an East African Federation has been slowed down tremendously by one nation, Tanzania. Had this issue been only between Kenya and Uganda, it would have been resolved a long time ago. And maybe the time has now come for the other East African nations, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda to seriously consider moving ahead with an East African Federation that excludes Tanzania whose people are not really interested in such a development.

Sources on the ground reveal to this writer that the vast majority of ordinary Tanzanians view Kenyans as a threat to employment opportunities within their country. Interestingly very few of them are thinking outside Tanzania at the moment despite the massive opportunities and the special Tanzanian talents in trade for instance that would see them prosper virtually anywhere in East Africa. The danger in this kind of thinking is that the Tanzanian "honeymoon economic growth" could end as suddenly as it began, especially if Kenya gets its act together. Economists give various reasons for this but one of the most obvious is that investors prefer Ugandan or Kenyan labour to Tanzanian. The only reason why many of them are in Tanzania is because the conditions are highly favorable to foreign investors unlike the situation in Kenya at the moment.

Listening to the speeches of President Kibaki and President Kikwete during the recent meeting in Arusha, it was easy to capture the tension and undercurrents. President Kibaki talked about the need to remove all trade barriers, and open the borders for the free movement of the peoples of East Africa and Kikwete talked about the incident of increased cross border crime and the need to co-operate to curb it.

The truth that even the most optimistic of Kenyans should be made aware of is that rather than opening up the borders for free movement of people, the vision of most Tanzanians for a bright future is one without any Kenyans in their country. The sooner this truth is realized the less time and public funds will be wasted in chasing the wind.

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Anonymous said...

I'm Kenyan and I was not aware of the opposition by the Tanzanians to an EAF until I read about on the Internet. I personally support the merge, but only if everyone else is agreeable. It seems that the Tanzanians don't want anything to do with us, for reason I think are unfair, but they are perfectly intitled to their xenophobic opinions. Perhaps the way forward is to exclude Tanzania for now, making sure they understand they are welcome to join us at any time. A Kenyan-Ugandan, and if the are willing, a Kenyan-Ugandan-Rwandan-Burundian, merger would seem plausible at this point.

Anonymous said...

It is Kenya that killed the EAC, now it is they who wants it so badly. Strange indeed. Yes Tanzanians are slowing it, because they want to be sure there are any benefits for them after the collapse of the promising former. One can imagine where the region will be if Kenyans had allowed the former to prosper.

Slowly the fed will come into place, with measures properly put in place to curb the ever super greedy Kenya from destroying it along with benefits to member states.

Anonymous said...

I am a Tanzanian and my question has always been why the rush?? of the major obstacles that led to the collapse of the EAC is the difference that exists btn the States and we can thank God that it collapsed peacefully without anyone getting hurt.I think its more prudent to take it step by step rather than just rushing to the political union "fast tracking".as there are a number of differences between the partner states Economic,political,cultural, educational etc...all these need to be sorted out we (tanzaniana) are for reasons I really cant explain disadvantaged in all those aspects hence u have to understand our fear into just RUSHING into that union that will disadvantage us as it appears from a simple glance...

Emmanuel Kombo said...

I will be happy without the federation. Economic - ok, but not political federation. See what happenned in Kenya- there was the Kibaki na dother orange: kibaki cheated and people got killed. Recently there was the Oginga and the others - after some were listed as criminal by ICTR they parted company. Now there is G7 against Oginga. Do you want to bring G7 to Tanzania? When Nyerere sucrificed the development of Tanzania for strong EAC, the Kenyan cheated us - they waited until all major assets were in Kenya and then kaboom!!! Now you want us back - as who? Partner or for another kaboom!!!
Stay in Kenya and let Tanzania stay in TZ. See what is happening in EU. Only those who refused to be cowed into EURO are stable. So go ahead join forces with Rwanda, Uganda and Burindi - you can even co-opt other nations, Tanzania will survive and proper, simply because it is not by our strength but by God's grace. You Kenyans can never determine the future of Tanzania. You arrogance will go on and on -we will love you as our neighbour, but at arms length!!!

Arnold Ngereza said...

It took EU 50 years to achieve that but because of imbalance some like UK would not be talking about Brexit.


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