Kikwete says Tanzania won’t pull out of troubled EAC

Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete said his government was not planning to pull out of the East African Community (EAC).

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, the president insisted that his administration was determined to seeing the bloc prosper and that he will do everything in his power to make sure that the five-member community does not collapse.

The East African Community is made up of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Recently, however, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda formed the so-called "coalition of the willing" with the three countries signing a number of agreements, which have irked the Tanzanian government.

In his address, Kikwete blamed the three countries saying their decision to discuss projects outside the agreed protocols signed sidelined Tanzania.

"Why are other member countries doing this? What has happened? Why are they sidelining us?" he questioned, adding that prior to April 28 the five countries were good friends.

Tanzania was being sidelined
He told the packed debating chamber that Tanzania was being sidelined in nearly all major projects involving member countries; with the three countries going ahead to separately implement a single customs union prior to the agreement.

On Tuesday, Kenya's Cabinet secretary for East African affairs, commerce and tourism Phyllis Kandie, Uganda's Tourism and Wildlife Minister Agnes Egunyo and Rwanda's high commissioner to the United Kingdom ambassador William Nkurunziza launched a joint tourism visa at the World Tourism Market meeting in the United Kingdom.

The deal is set to come into force by January next year. Through the single travel document, member country states will adopt a joint Visa to facilitate free movement of tourist and citizens alike within the three countries.

A fortnight ago, presidents Uhuru Kenyatta from Kenya, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni and Salva Kiir of Southern Sudan signed a host of protocols and agreements in Kigali, including free movement of goods and persons, infrastructural development and transformation into a single customs union. 

The pacts were signed on the sidelines of the three-day Transform Africa summit to which Tanzania and Burundi, both EAC member states, were not invited. 

'Tanzania is not invited'
"Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have created a 'coalition of willing'. How can we be willing if Tanzania is not invited?" he asked.

He said allegations from the other members that Tanzania was an unwilling member were baseless and that Tanzania has constantly provided time, money and other resources to support the EAC initiative. "It is not possible," he insisted.

He posed that other EAC member countries hate Tanzania because of its stance on political federation. Tanzania has been insisting on a gradual process to attaining a political federation, favouring an economic integration first.

"We will not be rushed into a political federation," he said, adding; "Let us focus on economic issues first before jumping into political union …we should not jump steps." 

Despite all these, President Kikwete said he will continue to participate in the activities of the bloc and ensure that it does not collapse.

"I want to assure my fellow Tanzanians that I don't want this community to break … I don't want Tanzania to be the source of the break out … I will talk to them [the other members]," Mr Kikwete said.

EAC's beginning
The EAC was initially formed in 1967 but collapsed only 10 years later following ideological differences, among other reasons. 

However, since the revival of the organisation in the 1990s (following international economic marginalisation), member states have voiced their scepticism with some accusing others of dilly-dallying in implementing plans and agreements.

Such agreements include the customs union in 2005, the Common Market Protocol in 2010 and the Monetary Union by 2012, as well as the Political Federation of East Africa by 2015, which have not been attained fully.

Sylivester Ernest is a 2013 winner of the David Astor Journalism award. He is on attachment to the Mail & Guardian. 

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


READ IT IN FULL: Ramaphosa’s address on the extension of...

This is the full address given by President Cyril Ramaphosa on April 9

Meet the doctor leading Africa’s fight to contain the coronavirus...

Dr Matshidiso Moeti’s father helped to eliminate smallpox. Now she’s leading Africa’s efforts against the coronavirus

Stella set to retain her perks

Communication minister will keep Cabinet perks during her two months of special leave

Covid-19 grounds Nigeria’s medical tourists

The country’s elites, including the president, travelled abroad for treatment but now they must use the country’s neglected health system

Press Releases

Rahima Moosa Hospital nursing college introduces no-touch facial recognition access system

The new system allows the hospital to enrol people’s faces immediately, using artificial intelligence, and integrates easily with existing access control infrastructure, including card readers and biometrics

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world