The new year 2013 as seen from where we stand

Friday January 11 2013

By Mboneko Munyaga

As 2012 recedes into the timeline of memory, it is probably worthwhile to peer into what the future holds, or rather, what East Africans would like to see happen in 2013.

Top on my list is to wish Kenyans a peaceful, free and fair General Election and for all to accept the outcome of the ballot and avoid the kind of bloodbath that characterised the aftermath of the 2007 polls.

In any case, 2013 will be an epochal year for Kenya as the country will definitely have a new leader since President Mwai Kibaki is set to retire after the March 4 polls, the jockeying for which is already in top gear.

It is also my sincere hope that Kenyan, Ugandan and Burundi forces will return home as the mission to Somalia shall have been concluded with the restoration of central authority in the Horn of Africa country, where a generation of lawlessness threatened to suck East Africa into its vortex of chaos.

Provided leadership

On the other hand, it was a matter of regional pride that East Africa provided the leadership of the nearly 18,000 troop African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) mandated to engage the Al Shaabab directly as a key resolve of the global community to give Somalia a functioning and inclusive government after decades of rule by clan warlords.

The war in Somalia has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 East African soldiers and as we ring in the New Year, it is imperative to remember, in prayers and thoughts, the families of our gallant fighters who laid down their lives to give us a better space and future.

With the war in Somalia, the death of Kenyan internal security minister, Professor George Saitoti, in a helicopter crash last June and tribal conflicts in the country, 2012 could be said to have not been a very good year for the region.

But there were also momentous milestones in every country.

In Tanzania, the country kick-started the long march to a new constitution while the judiciary more than demonstrated its independence by delivering a number of landmark decisions that did not favour the ruling CCM.

In the first case, the High Court unseated the MP for Nzega, Dr Dalali Peter Kafumu (CCM), who had narrowly won the seat following the resignation from politics by former party stalwart Rostam Aziz, who represented the constituency in parliament. In the subsequent by-election, the seat fell to the main opposition Chadema.

And, more recently, the Court of Appeal reinstated Arusha Urban MP Godless Lema (Chadema), who had been out of parliament for several months following a High Court ruling to unseat him.

Change of guard

CCM also had a change of the guard after the party’s general meeting gave President Jakaya Kikwete another five years as national chairman and brought from retirement Phillip Mangula as vice-chairman (Mainland) and Abdulrahman Kinana as secretary-general.

Mr Kinana, it was hoped, would form a bridge across the emerging factions that threatened to tear the party apart. Mr Mangula, a former secretary-general forgotten for nearly a decade, replaced long time party ideologue Pius Msekwa, who retired.

Mr Kinana took over from another party cadre, Wilson Mkama, who has been tasked with founding an ideological college.

The East African Common Market Protocol ran smoothly into its second year, emboldening some quarters to call for speedy march to monetary union, the next stage of the integration process, according to the treaty of the revived East African Community (EAC) before “ultimately” a political federation.

However, Tanzania prefers more careful treading, a scenario that is likely to characterise the way business is conducted in the overall spirit of greater regional togetherness.

With Tanzania finally giving the green light for South Sudan to be admitted into the EAC, it is perhaps time to start imagining a “Greater” East Africa that will one day extend from Eritrea to include the whole of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Malawi.

Probably it is too ambitious a dream into the future but one that, nevertheless, will have its rather hazy visions take very firm roots in 2013. It is the only way Africa can survive as the Middle East reforms and Asia, especially China, gets sucked into the global system.

Mboneko Munyaga is a journalist with the East African News Agency