Monday, December 1, 2008

Tanzania is proving to be a liability in East African integration


It is time members of the East African Community called Tanzania’s bluff. Our southern neighbour has become a veritable impediment to integration and progress in the region.

Everytime a useful proposal is put forward, it throws a spanner in the works. Kenya, Uganda and the two candidate-members of the Community, Rwanda and Burundi, should simply shrug Tanzania off and forge ahead.

The latest Tanzanian objection is the proposal to allow the use of identity cards when crossing borders instead of the requirement for passports, which relatively few ordinary East Africans have anyway. The effect of the Tanzanian veto is to limit the movement of people about, who in most cases are traders going back and forth. It is difficult to see the logic of Dar es Salaam’s objection. At this rate, the dream of federation by 2013 will remain dead as long as Tanzania is allowed to dictate terms.

Tanzania has for many years been consumed by a large deceit of thinking it is more important than it actually is. Basically, it still lives in a time warp where it is forever harping on its old credentials of being a linchpin of the liberation struggles of southern Africa.

Without doubt this was a historically important role. But the world of today is being shaped not by re-living the progressive glories of the 60s but by learning to adapt to fast-changing economic trends of today.

Regional prosperity depends on the exchange of skills that free movement of peoples and investment across borders allows.

Tanzania is dirt poor, its economy a fraction of Kenya’s. Further, it lacks the dynamism and skills to drive its economy forward at the pace of its neighbours. Even tiny Rwanda has a better capacity than can be said of Tanzania. The latter’s prickly sense of wanting to be alone is sadly misguided. Regional prosperity depends on the exchange of skills that free movement of peoples and investment across borders allows.

It is myopic to think Kenyans who venture into Tanzania are only going to take away Tanzanian jobs and opportunities. They are bringing skills, money and enterprise which they cross-pollinate in Tanzania.

It is also wrong to fear that Kenya’s more developed economy is a threat to Tanzania’s and thus should be kept at bay. That argument flies in the face of all known precedents. Mexico knows the immense benefits it reaps from the North America Free Trade Association (NAFTA) even though its economy can nowhere be compared with the United States’ or Canada’s. Likewise countries like Slovakia or Croatia would not have been clamouring to join the European Union to be in the company of more advanced members like France and Germany.

But the cost-benefit ratio in such situations favours the poorer members.

Of the leaders of the East Africa Community, President Yoweri Museveni is by far the most far-sighted on this question of integration, He is surely right in urging those countries for the idea to go ahead on their own and cast off the laggards. One country cannot and should not be allowed to hold the process of integration hostage. Another leader who is emerging as a real visionary is Rwanda’s President, Mr Paul Kagame. He has already okayed the abolition of work permits for Kenyan professionals going to work there. Kenya too, has agreed on a similar waiver for Rwandan job-seekers.

Kenyans who have been in Tanzania know the great difficulties of getting a local work permit. Working without one in that country is a highly perilous game, as the infamous deportations of Kenyans from there that were carried with utmost malice routinely attest. Tanzania greatly likes to be recognised for her ‘internationalist’ policies, with her leaders spending more time strutting the world than they do in their own country, though the facts show they are quite parochial.

Tanzania's greatly confused posture comes out in its obsession to belong to the Southern African Development Community (SADC). There is probably less of an economic rationale for this fling than there is a political one. Nothing gladdens Tanzania’s heart than to be seen to be close to South Africa.

But things have surely changed since the days of the liberation struggle. Other than a broadly progressive political outlook, the two countries have very little in common.


Anonymous said...

I wonder what nationality is the writer? I, as a tanzanian, beleive it is not right to let other nations use ID to cross back and forth through our borders when our own nationals(sespecailly, small traders) can not... so hold your horses, and if you want to forge ahead, go ahead, it is allowed to make agreement on one on one e.g. the way kenya and rwanda has done, so nothing stopping others getting into regional agreements on labour migration etc... When we get our IDs, we will join...
another issue on museveni pushing the eac intergration/movement into certain issues....these agreements has to benefit all somehow, you can not agree just because one country or two are to benefit and one is loosing out completely.... can the writer look deeper into the president intentions and stop praising the man unnecessarily...

Anonymous said...

We're not afraid of EAC but sacrificing our land.

EAC without equity will be implausible

KENYA’S media lately unleashed accusations and curses against Tanzania thanks to the sin of not complying with their demands.

One of the articles fired salvos, ire and tantrums, not to mention dirty language. It reprimanded and accused Tanzania of not consenting to free movement and land acquisition by citizens of other member countries of the East African Community.

’’Tanzania is proving to be a liability in EA integration’’, read the article.

We’d rather shrug this straitjacket off than enter a forceful marriage of convenience if need be.

Interestingly, the myopic author shamelessly said, "Tanzania greatly likes to be recognized for her ’internationalist’ policies, with her leaders spending more time strutting the world than they do in their own country, though the facts show they are quite parochial."

By the way, who’s parochial in reality? We may be. But we’ve nary butchered one another simply because we’re from different tribes. Kenya’s allegations may be right to some degree.

Under our internationalism we’re accused of made it possible for erstwhile foes President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to sit together and resolve their differences.

And Kenyans, thanks to that breakthrough, are relatively enjoying peace after butchering one another.

Again, when one sees how our leaders ’waste time globe-trotting’, one should as well have seen how his own legislators do not want to pay tax on top of amassing big chunks of land while the majority of their people suffer for lack of the same.

Also, Tanzania is blamed for not consenting to the so-called free movement. Other EAC members would like their nations to use identity cards for travel in the region in lieu of passports. They would like to abolish work permits in the region, not to mention free land acquisition.

Another thing, however weak, is that we’re afraid of Kenyan vibrant economy. Blindly and shamelessly they say: ’Tanzania is dirt poor, its economy a fraction of Kenya’s. Further, it lacks the dynamism and skills to drive its economy forward at the pace of its neighbours. Even tiny Rwanda has a better capacity than [what] can be said of Tanzania.’

What nonsense! If this is the case, then why are Kenyans hollering for not joining them? Shall integration be an in-thing, we still can join Mozambique or even Zambia.

They erroneously aver that we are giving the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) too much. So be it, if it protects and safeguards our interests. ’Tanzania’s generally confused posture comes out in its obsession to belong to the SADC,’’ they add.

Let me tell our integration tutors one thing. They’re the ones who introduced the East African passport. This consumed a lot of money in printing and designing not to mention purchasing them.

We challenge Kenyan authorities to harmonize their land policies and equally re-distribute land to the landless majority -- our landless brethren and sisters in Kenya.

It is an open secret that almost all fertile land is in the hands of a few foreigners or rulers who grabbed it from the wananchi.

Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda would like to see ’East Africans’ acquire land in any state they deem fit. But again, apart from Tanzania, which country still has land for such purpose?

We know, in Kenya much of fertile land is owned by a few select in power or that used to be in power. In a word, Kenya has a very nasty land policy that for long has left the ordinary people landless and sidelined.

For instance, the family of the country's first president, Jomo Kenyatta, owns a chunk of land the size of Nyanza Province.

Similarly, that of his successor, Daniel arap Moi and Kibaki’s also own big parcels of land not to mention former British settlers. In May 2006 Cholmondeley, grandson of Lord Delamere, shot dead an innocent Kenyan for trespass on his Soysambu farm.

In other words, Kenyan rulers, even Rwandans, are looking for free land to offer to their man-made landless majority. Before we do so, let greedy rulers re-distribute the parcels they are holding without even putting them to use.

Another point is, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda have big populations compared to the size of their land. So, instead of planning and controlling their population, they’d like to dump that burden to Tanzania!

True, if Tanzania consented to this ploy, the future of its coming generations would be doomed. Look at this reality in numbers. Burundi is 27,830 sq km with a population of 8,691,005 or
315 people concentrated in a square kilometre.

Rwanda is 26,338 sq km with a population of 8.3 million that is set to double to 16 million by 2020. Its population density is the highest in Africa and has risen from 183 per sq km in 1981 to 345 per sq km in 2000.

Rwanda’s rural population per square kilometre of arable land was around 901 in 1999 -- one of the highest in Africa.

Kenya is 582,650 sq km with a population of over 30 million. Density is 2 settlers per sq. km, while in the rich and fertile western region, population density goes up to 120 settlers per sq. km.

Uganda is 241,139 sq km with a population of at least 27.7 million and a density of 241 per sq km in 1999. Its population is projected to explode to approximately 66,305,000 by 2050.

Tanzania is 945,100 sq km and, according to the United Nations, had an estimated population of 36,977,000 in 2003. The population density was then 39 per sq km.

Demographic realities are not something to ignore. Even the superpower and richest country of the world, the US, is currently erecting a 3,200 kilometre fence on its border with Mexico to curb illegal immigrants. But Mexico like Kenya does not see this.

Another killer point, Tanzania still remembers the loss suffered from the 1977 debacle of the first East African Community as a result of megalomaniac rule in Kenya and Uganda.

History is a good judge. Shortly before attaining independence in 1961, Tanzania wanted to delay its autonomy until all colonies in East Africa were ready for the same status. What exemplary pan-African love and spirit!

We better go or remain solo than being shuffled and bussed in a bandwagon for our peril.
Thisday December 3, 2008.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous stop plagiarizing the work of others. This piece above was written by a Tanzanian Nkwazi Mhango who lives in Canada. Why didn't you attribute this?