The Minister in charge of East African Community (EAC) affairs, Monique Mukaruliza, has attributed the collapse of the first East African Community (EAC) to misunderstandings among partner states at the time.
Established in 1967, the first regional bloc collapsed on its tenth anniversary in 1977 leading to the signing of the second treaty in 1999.
Mukaruliza said that the three founding EAC members Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya, pursued national interests instead of looking at the bloc, an issue she said has since been addressed by the treaty that established the current regional bloc.
“The current EAC cannot collapse because very important changes have been put in place which was never considered at the time of the first EAC,” Mukaruliza said yesterday in an interview with The New Times, at her office.
She added that the first community also suffered from the lack of equal distribution of rights and benefits.
“Equal rights and benefits is one issue that is highly regarded by the current EAC. Even if Rwanda and Burundi joined later, there are ongoing efforts to make sure we all benefit equally from the bloc,” Mukaruliza said.
She said that among steps that were taken to ensure a strong EAC, was the requirement that all partner states make equal annual financial contributions to the Arusha based EAC secretariat.
The minister hinted at the big difference in EAC jobs taken up by Rwandans and Burundians and those by residents of the three founding countries, saying that this was caused by the late entry of the two countries into the bloc.
“Actually, most of the EAC institutions and organs are in the three founding partner states. What we have agreed is that Rwanda and Burundi are the next locations to be considered for any new upcoming institutions,” she said.