EDITORIAL: Time for EAC to send strong message to defaulters

The East African Community (EAC) is, at last, doing the most decent thing in view of the current stormy waters it is sailing in.

The organisation has been living like a spoilt poor relative who just sees food on the table without knowing when the rich relative in town will send the next instalment.

The EAC has been relying on the magnanimity of Western Europe to survive. The handouts it receives from the EU-member countries is what has been keeping it afloat, but now even that is no longer tenable. EAC-member countries, especially Burundi and South Sudan, have been failing to honour their financial obligations, causing huge shortfalls.

But, at long last, the EAC has decided to cut its losses and bite the bullet; it has embarked on major reforms that will see it cut its workforce by at least 30 per cent and save $2.5 million in the process.

Maybe the EAC could also use the downsizing to send a message to defaulters: Staff layoff should begin with countries that have failed to honour their financial obligations as it is not fair for them to enjoy the same privileges as fully paid-up members.

The EAC could also make honouring financial contributions as a condition to holding certain posts. This will be a strong message that the time to ride on other people’s backs is over. Once the Heads of State have drawn the lines clearly in the sand, and pledge to do away with sacred cows, maybe then will the EAC learn to live within its means.

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