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Friday, October 13, 2006

East African Federation - Is this an April 1 joke?

From the Nation (14 October 2006)

My comments & observations in RED

Leaders launch campaign for E. African federation

Publication Date: 10/14/2006

A campaign to rally public support for the proposed East African Federation was yesterday launched in the three countries. President Kibaki set the ball rolling in Nairobi, as Uganda's Yoweri Museveni and Tanzania's Jakaya Kikwete did the same in Kampala and Dar es Salaam, respectively.

The campaign to popularise the plan for political and economic union is scheduled to take six months. The initiative seeks to explain the benefits of the federation to the region's 105 million people, leading to a referendum to be conducted in each of the three countries.

Why bother with a political union between countried when Kenya & Uganda have massive internal political problems including:

  • Lack of true National parties as opposed to tribal gatherings (Kenya)
  • A faulty constitution which needs replacement (Kenya)
  • A constitution that is changed at a whim to let the president "extend" the term of office (Uganda)
  • Tribal clashes even in this day & age (North Eastern Kenya)

If approved at the referendum, then East Africa will become a federation in 2013. The significance of the federation is that the region will have a common president, flag, anthem and currency. The presidency will rotate among the three presidents.

Why should we spend BILLIONS on a referendum that will,IMHO, fail. The EU/EC are still navigating the ECONOMIC federation/union before taking steps to a launch political federation. Furthermore, they have not been able to successfully navigate those waters even after trying for more than 15 years, let alone the 2013 target (only 7 years away)... This is a process & it can't be rushed. These funds need to be spent on improving the infrastructure connecting the various countries. I think a new rail system, better ports & open skies will do more for "natural" integration than a referendum!

The federation president will be a symbolic figure, as each country will retain her president, national flag, national anthem plus its own economy within the union. The federation will have an enlarged Parliament and will allow free movement of people and easy trade among the members.

Apart from the economic factors like free movement of goods & people, there is no benefit but ANOTHER parasitic parliament that will remain toothless.

What is the point of a symbolic president?
Why spend more money on a parliament that will have few powers?

I see more wastefulness as witnessed by the GREEDY MPs in Kenya!

Tanzania has been belligerent towards Kenyan firms, drivers, traders & media. Why would they suddenly give up political control when they can't even loosen the economic chokehold?

Why not strive to ease the economic bottlenecks e.g. investment restrictions first?

Members of the East African Legislative Assembly will be elected directly by the people unlike today, when they are appointed by political parties and approved by respective parliaments.

Please don't waste my time & money! What issues will these MPs run on? Will they have a CDF as well? What more will they want for benefits?

President Kibaki unveils the East African Community flag at the KICC yesterday. Photo by Anthony Kamau
Yesterday, President Kibaki said: "We have committed ourselves to shaping a new future; a future in which East Africans will live together, united in peace and prosperity. "The process we are launching today aims at revitalising the spirit of East African unity in the minds and hearts of our people. We want to shift the discussions on the East African Federation away from conference halls to the urban streets and rural villages of East Africa."

He can't even get this country behind him! Shelve the political federation & work on getting Tanzania back into the EAC & COMESA rather than SADDC. In the meantime, they should open the borders to Kenyan trade.

President Kibaki said even as the national consultative process was rolling out, Kenyans should remember that a political federation "was a complex matter as it involved important issues of sovereignty which the people must decide on." He said during the launch at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi: "It is, therefore, important that the subject of political federation is adequately discussed and appreciated by all the people of East Africa. Thus, we should not forget that the sovereignty of our individual states is derived from the will and self-determination of our people."

This is too complex to handle before we are economically ready. Behemoths like W.Germany had a difficult time with integration. The "stronger" W. Germany was weakened substantially by the cost of the reunification. Kenya has the strongest economy of the 3 but remain minnows in comparison to mnay European & Asian countries.


This is a waste of Taxpayers' money. I think kibz will use this referendum as a means to campaign for himself & his cronies. They will tour the country pushing the referendum but actually raise their profile for the elections!

It is far better to negotiate for favourable trade terms with other countries while following a reciprocal policy of opening our borders completely to economic activities.


Kudrinketh said...

I totally agree with you on this one.If we're going to form a federation, lets empower it, not have some 'symbolic' rotating lame-duck presidency with a bloated, toothless parliament.

Ati free movement of people!we already have that and we dont need to have a bloated federation to oversee free-movement of people! anything less than total economic intergration is just unacceptable.lets all reject this stupid proposal.

kenyanentrepreneur said...

can the passwords of the three countries be used to travel in either one? do they an equivalent of the EU passport?

is it easy for citizens of either country to do business in either place?

Anonymous said...

The whole thing is just a dream. Arent we going to have the Uganda's LRA rebels operating anywhere they want if they allow free movement of people? The intergration should be purely economic benefits then if that succeeds then they can think of political.

Miss L.

mwasjd said...

I'm in agreement too. At first I used to think the whole federation thing was a structure of sort for managing issues regarding customs, passports and cross border trading. A political union is a dream and any referendum to that effect would probably suffer a greater loss than the Banana thing.

Sorting out the economic collabo between the 3 economies (or 4 if rwanda's application comes through) should be the priority and should remain the only collabo. Political integration is a non-starter in my view.

ww(x) said...

First-timer here. Yet another great blog.

I guess I'm not yet convinced that this is entirely a bad idea. That is, from a purely economic standpoint. I have to say though, that sub-proposal for a communal president will not do. If we have to experience another vote-for-the-constitution see-saw where it's All or Nothing then, yeah, this will fail to pass. As important as the economy is to most of us - I don't see Kenyans voting Yes to Museveni becoming their President. Coalition poster-boy or otherwise.

Reminds me to go read up on how Ban Ki-whatever from SOUTH KOREA (!) has been appointed the next UN Secretary General. What the... ?!

coldtusker said...

It seems most of us agree that an ECONOMIC UNION should be the immediate goal & leave the POLITICAL UNION for a much further date AFTER the ECONOMIC UNION is running smoothly.

kudri - I agree. If they insist on a referendum for a political union then have it as 2 questions.

Do you want an Economic Union? Yes/No
Do you want an Political Union? Yes/No

My concern is the illiterate or un-informed voter who might vote Yes for both!

ke - Passwords? -> Don't know.
Passports - Yes but restrictions.
EA Passport available.
Business - No.

Ms L - I agree. Whose responsibility would the numerous refugees in all 3 countries be?

mwasjd - Rwanda & Burundi will join EAC soon.

ww(x) - I am OK with the Economic Union/integration (if done gradually but within a fixed timetable).
The UN Sec General has to be from a smaller country that is NOT a Permanent Member i.e. the Big Five.

Anonymous said...

who designed that ugly flag!

toneloc said...

The devil is in the details.

Whether or not the federation is a joke or not depends upon whether it is implemented by the various EA parliaments in law.

If that happens, then I can effectively sue any Tanzanian or Ugandan customs officer who maliciously detains my fresh produce at a border post. At the current moment, these officers just laugh at and arrest/prosecute naive Kenyans who try to exploit these farcical "agreements."

Painful waste of money in poor countries... painful...

coldtusker said...

anon - Not me...

Toneloc - A free customs union would eliminate the borders therefore NO need for a political federation before the economic... example is the EC/EU

69/\/\ said...

The Swaleh Mdoe thing has confirmed one thing for me: any EAF talk is rubbish given the current situation.

We can't sort out the small things and yet we aim for the big! Don't the many small things make up the big?

CT, you're right on this one, its just a waste of time and money.

BTW: What's the rationale behind fast-tracking the whole thing?

suekari said...

this is a total waste of time!u guyz have u gone to uganda and saw how those people are lazy?[i mean lazy!]the land there is just going to a u think that this EAF will allow the hardworking kenyans to go cultivate and own land in uganda?

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