NAIROBI, November 18 – Kenya on Tuesday accused Tanzania of dragging its feet on the East African Community (EAC) integration process.
East African Community Minister Amason Jeffa Kingi complained that Tanzania had adopted a difficult stance over key issues of integration, which are however agreeable to other countries, thereby stifling the long overdue process.
He said that during an extraordinary council meeting held last week in Zanzibar, Tanzania was averse to propositions made towards realisation of a Common Market protocol, which is aimed at harmonising the integrated community.
“The community spirit of cooperation was heavily watered down by the United Republic of Tanzania when her delegation repeatedly stated that their country wanted to ‘go slow’ in the integration process,” said Mr Kingi.
The meeting also comprised the Multi Sectoral Council on the negotiations for an EAC Common Market protocol.
However, Mr Kingi insisted that the sluggish move by Tanzania would not hamper the integration process because the other member countries comprising Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi were determined to make a success of EAC dream adding that a meeting would be convened in January to discuss issues raised by Tanzania.
He announced that the council had in effect extended the mandate of a High Level Taskforce looking into the integration up to April next year to enable further deliberations.
Bone of contention
Mr Kingi said that during the Zanzibar meeting, the council discussed various issues including the proposal to have a dated covenant on water policy and grant facilities for the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project.
The proposed Amendment to the Lake Victoria Basin Commission Bill 2008, and the East African Community Bill were also discussed.
On the negotiation of a Common Market Protocol, the minister said the council failed to agree on four areas, which included free movement of persons, right of establishment, right of residence and permanent residence.
“This is very unfortunate given that the negotiations of the common market protocol were the directive of the Summit in its efforts to take forward the integration agenda,” said Mr Kingi.
He added that Tanzania refused to agree to the use of identity cards as instruments for facilitating travel within the community, even though the council had taken a decision on the same in 2002 and 2007 respectively.
Tanzania is also opposed to the inclusion of a provision to allow for access and use of land and buildings situated in the territory of another partner state for purposes of establishment in accordance with the national laws of the partner state.
The EAC minister is now calling on the region’s big country to reconsider its position for the community to realise its aspirations.