In April, the East African Community (EAC) will have a new Secretary General (SG), after the term of the incumbent, Juma Mwapachu, from Tanzanian, expires.
The EAC Treaty which serves as the Constitution of the five member states clearly stipulates that the Secretary General shall be appointed by the Summit upon nomination by the relevant Head of State, under the principle of rotation (Article 76).
In accordance with the principle of rotation, it should be either Rwanda or Burundi’s turn, since the three founding members have each held the position.
However, of late, sections of the regional media have sought to portray Rwanda and Burundi as new entrants to the regional grouping, therefore, not acquainted with the integration process, and hence none of them should take up the post.
Such statements are not only unfounded, but contradict the very spirit in which the bloc was formed and the rationale for having an EAC Treaty.
Rwanda has already demonstrated its leadership capacity, not only at the regional level, but on the international scene as well.
The country was the first to scrap work permits for EAC citizens and it did so, well ahead of the signing of the Common Market protocol.
This was in addition to the country’s new 24-hour border service and the removal of other non-tariff barriers.
Therefore, debate about which country is more capable or committed to taking EAC to another level is inappropriate and distracting. No member state can claim more ownership of the integration process than others.
The Treaty must be respected in choosing the next SG.