If the East African Community region is to attain sustainable peace and prosperity the question of security ought to be looked at in a more realistic and strategic manner, regional lawmakers said on Tuesday.
Strategic security, according to lawmakers, goes beyond looking at out-and-out war situations, the lack of which might mislead one into believing that citizens are necessarily happy and peaceful.
The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), during the ongoing session in Arusha, Tanzania, on Tuesday, resumed debate on the address of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Chairperson of the EAC Summit of Heads of State, delivered on January 23 in Kampala, Uganda.
According to MP Muhia Wanjiku (Kenya), analysis of the region’s strategic security perspective should not be limited to the political atmosphere.
She said: “Particularly, we should look at the youth. We are all aware of the need to create more jobs as an urgent issue in east Africa. The growing number of youths who are idle is a time bomb for east Africa. We may not have al-Shabaab but we may have threats from our youths in other forms.”
More than 60 per cent of the bloc’s population is youth.
On food security, the lawmaker noted that she observed – during a recent tour of the Central Corridor – that while some parts of the region have food in abundance, others are deprived and suffering.
MP Gabriel Alaak Garang (South Sudan) backed the observation by MP George Stephen Odongo (Uganda) who pointed out that Burundi and South Sudan were particularly doing badly when it comes to security.
Odongo noted that peace is a special ingredient for the region’s wellness.
“Peace rests in the hearts and minds of people,” he said, adding that “this region is full of pretense” and there is need to transcend artificial definitions of peace and security. “If any part of the East African Community is in danger, I am in danger.”
MP Oda Gasingizwa (Rwanda) said “we have to face the reality.”
She suggested it is high time the region spoke out against what is going wrong in parts of the Community “to make sure we have a secure environment and region for our people.”
Gasinzigwa posed: “How are we going to get to the prosperity we want if we don’t talk about the security of our people?”
MP Jeremiah Odok Woda (South Sudan) acknowledged that, without security, there is no investment, development and real integration to talk about.