GASABO - Religious leaders of various denominations yesterday held a one-day consultative meeting at Hotel Novotel to discuss the East African Community (EAC) political confederation.
Prof. Anastase Shyaka, Chairman of the National Consultative Committee on fast-tracking of the East African Political Federation, called upon the clerics to take the meeting seriously and make their contribution to the integration process.
“In order to have this EAC Political Federation, you need to understand it fully. The population needs to understand it well before it’s asked to get involved,” Prof. Shyaka told the clerics adding that through their work, they reach a large population.
He said that citizens from EAC member countries need to have a sense of collective development and ownership.
“If anything is wrong, citizens need to look for a way to correct it other than refusing to be integrated,” Prof. Shyaka advised.
Different consultative meetings on the EAC Political Federation have been conducted and the religious leaders’ meeting is one of the national level meetings.
“In the various consultative meetings that started March this year, citizens raised concerns such as different levels of corruption in the member countries and policies that are not uniform like Rwanda’s banning of polythene bags which is a different case in other member countries,” he said.
Prof. Shyaka told The New Times in an interview that what will be done is looking for the best practices that can be adopted in member States.
“Rwanda is not the best in all things. We can also learn a lot from other countries. So we need to join and adopt what is good for us all,” he explained.
He also said that many issues discussed in order to join the EAC have been examined as more advantageous adding that the ongoing consultative process will end in November.
The chairman of the Inter-Confessional Religious Forum and Mufti of the Rwandan Muslim Community, Sheikh Saleh Harerimana, told The New Times that religious leaders were the best channel for disseminating information to the population.
He added that their forum can reach about 95 percent of the Rwandan population because it represents all religious groups.
The meeting comes during the historic Tripartite Summit of the three economic blocs of the East and Southern Africa.
The 26 member states of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and EAC were in Kampala, Uganda to discuss measures of harmonising trade rules and speeding up economic integration and liberalisation.
The main objective of the Kampala Summit was to agree on a road map for creating a Pan-Regional Free Trade Area, encompassing the three blocs, and a joint program for infrastructure development.