It is quite clear Dar es Salaam long ago opted for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) over all other sub-regional groupings. Its continued presence in the East African Community (EAC) is half-hearted at best despite Arusha being the putative capital of a nascent East African federation.
Tanzania, for instance, pulled out of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) on the pretence it did not wish to remain concurrently a member of that group as well as SADC, even though many other SADC members, such as Zambia where the Comesa secretariat is based, remain members of both groups without any problem.
In reality, Tanzania’s issue with the EAC has always been its fear that its industries and businesses could never hope to succeed in any open and fair competition with the Kenyan sub-regional powerhouse. It has also yet to really recover from the collapse of the first East African integration experiment whose breakup, it believes, unfairly favoured Kenyan interests.
In those circumstances better throw her lot with the South Africa-dominated SADC, than the closer neighbour against whom it is always easier to feel jealousy (as that Kinyarwanda proverb says, “umwana bamubwira gukubita uwo yanga agakubita uwo basangira” – literally translated as “you tell a child to beat whom he doesn’t like, and he beats the one they share everything”.
In these circumstances, it is best for those members interested in a faster and deeper integration to just proceed without Tanzania. Dar es Salaam will eventually climb on board if it judges that to be in its interest or it will continue to stand by the sidelines if it doesn’t think so.
In either case it will rightly be its own choice whether to join its fellow East Africans in an exciting shared journey to the future, or whether it continues to play a periphery role in a dispensation completely owned by a predatory South African capital much of it still controlled by those who ran the show under Apartheid, even if now covered by a fig-leaf of the Black Empowerment nouveaux-riches.
Mwene Kalinda, Kigali
Reaction to the editorial, “Is EAC integration possible with current evictions?” (Sunday Times, August 11)