President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s 100 days in office have been clear on her style of governance — more open than her predecessor John Magufuli both at home and in the region.
President Samia has suggested a review of the East African Community Treaty to reflect the current regional situation. The president made the suggestion during a recent meeting with EAC Secretary General Dr Peter Mathuki who had paid her courtesy call at Ikulu, in Dar es Salaam. While referring to the EAC’s institutional framework, President Samia stressed the need for a comprehensive review of the Treaty and other legal instruments.
“The Treaty establishing the EAC was signed 20 years ago when we were only three members. We have now grown to six and hopefully we shall continue growing,” said President Samia. “We therefore need to not only review the Treaty, but other instruments as well, to align them with what we have already done, and what we aspire to do.”
While paying tribute to the regional bloc, she cited EAC Partner states contributions as one of issues to be considered for review.
“As a Community, the Partner States are all at different levels of development, and our ability to meet our statutory obligations to the EAC vary, we therefore need to look into how this can be addressed so all members are able to meet their obligations,” she said.
Tanzania has paid the full amount of its EAC remittances for the financial year 2020/21.
Tanzania has for a while now been considered lukewarm towards reforms pushed by the partner states and President Samia’s openness is a departure from her predecessor’s approach.
In the past fortnight, Dr Mathuki has been meeting with EAC Heads of State, private sector, EAC Affairs ministers from the region, and EU ambassadors as he prepares for the next EAC Summit, whose date is yet to be fixed.
“When we met with President Samia, she was very keen on the role of the private sector in stimulating manufacturing sector and the institution review of the EAC Treaty to accommodate changes in the bloc,” said Dr. Mathuki.
“The issue of consensus is probably the most important and overdue change that we need to look into,” said Adan Mohamed, Council chairperson and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in charge of EAC and Regional Development.
“According to the EAC Treaty, it was written for three countries. Consensus made a lot of sense for Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. But since then most countries have joined.”
Burundi and Rwanda joined the EAC in 2007 while South Sudan joined in 2016.
The Democratic Republic of Congo that made its application two years ago is awaiting ratification mission scheduled for this week.
In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni expressed concern over the lack of proper markets to address Uganda’s products.
“Uganda is concerned about the EAC integration and how it will address the markets for her goods,” said Dr Mathuki whose mission includes being aware of the concerns of all countries and make sure they are part of the agenda for the Summit.
“You need to urgently rearrange the focus of the Community in strategic sectors to create jobs and wealth for the people of East Africa. Sectors including Agri-business; Industries; ICT and Service are critical sectors, which can change the lives of East Africans,” said Museveni.
South Sudan which has been entangled in internal wars is keen to have her staff employed at the EAC secretariat.
“Please put in place mechanisms to increase South Sudan’s level of participation in intra-regional trade in addition to initiatives that will enable the people of South Sudan to fully capitalize on the benefits of the Community,” said President Kiir during Mathuki’s visit to Juba.
The uneasiness between Rwanda and Burundi was top on the SG’s agenda when he paid the two countries a visit.
“We need to be able to move freely, and also communicate easily. It is now time for Burundi to relook into joining the East African One Area Network in order to ease communication to other Partner States,” said President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame reaffirmed his commitment to the EAC integration agenda and urged the SG to ensure that the private sector plays its rightful role in the integration process.
“EAC Organs and Institutions should to work in harmony in order to achieve the objectives of the community as enshrined in the Treaty,” said Kagame.
Mathuki’s visits also took him to Zanzibar where he held talks with President of Zanzibar, Dr. Hussein Ali Mwinyi who said that the island nation was keen on exploiting its blue economy.
“EAC should extend regional infrastructure development projects to link Zanzibar to other Partner States especially in the development of ports and marine transport,” said President Mwinyi.
“The island nation is open for business and so EAC needs to move and entice foreign direct investment into blue economy sectors such as fishing, tourism, and petroleum and gas.”