EAC chief warns Tanzania on regional integration

The East African Community (EAC) has raised concerns over Tanzania’s commitment to the regional integration process.

EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera (pictured) hit out at those dilly-dallying over integration process, saying they were missing the point.

Dr Sezibera said Tanzania has faltered on a number of key issues agreed upon by EAC regional States including the liberation of its current accounts and waiving of work permit fees.

“We don’t have compelling powers over those countries which seem not to be co-operating with the process of regional integration but the EAC treaty provides for the Secretary-General to take a country that is lagging behind to court. But this is a long process,” Sezibera told reporters in Nairobi yesterday.
Long-term goal
“Those still putting barriers to trade and integration are missing the point. We need to integrate much faster,” he added.

Sezibera noted that some people were interested in the benefits of regional integration yet they were not ready to participate in achieving its long-term goal.

“I’m concerned that at the individual and regional level, many actors are interested in plucking the fruits of regional integration rather than growing the tree,” he said, adding that the fundamental aim is to have East Africa’s prosperity by integrating. 

Sezibera was speaking on the sidelines of the Second Annual Banking and Research conference organised by the Kenya Bankers Association in Nairobi yesterday.

Tanzania’s commitment to regional  integration has been under sharp focus since Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania agreed to revive the defunct EAC in 1997. Tanzania has been viewed as a reluctant party to the integration process.

 It has on several occasions asked for more time to open up its economy to East African counterparts. 

It is also understood that Tanzania negotiated as a member of the Southern African Development Community, but transferred its allegiance to the EAC after pressure from European Union.

Early this month, Presidents Uhuru, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Kagame of Rwanda met in Mombasa to discuss cross-border infrastructure projects without Tanzania’s input.

Similarly, Tanzania and Burundi were conspicuously absent at an earlier meeting in June 2013 by the three presidents; Museveni, Kenyatta and Kagame in Entebbe which was dubbed as EAC’s first infrastructure summit.

Tanzania’s objections to both land purchases and a common EAC passport in 2009 also raised fears over its government’s commitment to the regional integration efforts.
Source: The Standard reported by
James Anyanzwa from Nairobi, Kenya
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