By Jedidah Nguyo
Published March 21, 2015
One would have expected Tanzania to be at the forefront in ensuring the success of the East African Community (EAC) considering that her northern town, Arusha, serves as the headquarters to the five-country EAC bloc. But if there is any country in the bloc comprising Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi that appears to pay lip service to the unification of eastern Africa, that country is Tanzania.
Tanzania appears to be undecided whether it really wants to be included in the EAC integration. The common markets protocol advocates for the free movement of people, goods and services across the borders of all partner states.
Tanzanian parliamentarians have passed an anti foreigner law that is aimed at curbing foreign employment in the country. The bill requires every non-Tanzanian worker to possess a permit.
Under the establishment treaty for the EAC, a foreigner is anyone who comes from a country other than those in the EAC. Tanzania is acting contrary to the EAC treaty.
The dust had not even settled after Tanzania had cut down on the number of weekly flights by Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways, to Tanzania from 42 to 14. This is the same Tanzania that has been involved in a diplomatic row with Kenya over tourism vehicles and how they should access each other’s tourism sites. The same Tanzania had banned The EastAfrican, a weekly regional newspaper published by Nairobi-based Nation Media Group after 20 years of circulating in the country terming it an illegal publication.
Though other partner states have had their fair share of disputes over EAC integration, Tanzania seems to have been involved in all the disputes that have ever arisen. To make matters worse, Tanzania does not soften its hard line stance as was witnessed with the dispute with Kenya over the tourism vehicles.
Tired of always being held back by Tanzania’s inaction, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda signed a tripartite deal to fast-track the EAC integration process. But three Tanzanian nationals challenged the decision by in the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) accusing them of sidelining Tanzania. Though they lost the case, this was seen as a move by Tanzania to scuttle the regional unification process. What a hypocritical move by Tanzania to accuse its neighbours of sidelining it yet it is Tanzania that is opposed to the EAC integration!
The time and resources wasted on unnecessary diplomatic rows occasioned by Tanzania hampering unification process of EAC. The integration will never happen if countries like Tanzania continue to pretend that they support the regional harmonisation process while they continue passing laws that hamper the process.