Rwanda has righteously provided the current Secretary General of the East African Community, based in Arusha, Tanzania.
This was indeed the right time for Rwanda to take its place considering that the post is held on a rotational basis and already Kenya, Ugandan and Tanzania had had their tenure at Arusha. That left Rwanda and Burundi to decide who to go first.
When there were doubts over whether the post should go to Rwanda, your columnist was one of the voices that insisted it was Rwanda’s ‘turn to eat’ if I may borrow the words of author Michela Wrong.
I was simply adding my voice to those of several other commentators.
Once it was clear that Rwanda was to take the seat in accordance with the EAC treaty, the choice made by President Paul Kagame couldn’t have been better. Dr. Richard Sezibera is indeed the best replacement for Tanzanian’s Ambassador Juma V Mwapachu who has undoubtedly done such a great job at Arusha.
For those who don’t know, Dr. Sezibera is not only a suave and eloquent doctor but also a seasoned diplomat with both regional and international feathers already in his hat. He served as an ambassador to the United States and was a Special Presidential Envoy to the Great Lakes Region before joining the Ministry of Health.
He served on the committee that drafted and fronted the proposal for Rwanda to join the East African Community. He also played a vital role in the process of restoring relations between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In other words he, surely, has what it takes to do a good job.
Indeed it’s not just Rwandans that are certain of Dr. Sezibera’s competence. According to one of the leading newspapers in Tanzania, The Citizen, several Tanzanians interviewed had only praise and belief in our good doctor whom they generally described as competent, cooperative and knowledgeable on regional matters.
“I worked with him on issues of unity among the Great Lakes region countries. He represented his country well,” said Prof Mwesiga Baregu, a lecturer at St. Augustine University of Tanzania, adding that Dr. Sezibera demonstrated high vision and ability in inter-regional matters.
“Considering his profile, he has the experience required for the position since he once served in the foreign affairs ministry in his country,” said Mr. Ally Salehe, a Zanzibar based political analyst. “Also, the EAC has a lot to learn from Rwanda as a country that has experienced civil wars, but is now doing well economically,” he added.
For his part, Dr Benson Bana of the University of Dar es Salaam said Dr Sezibera’s appointment has not come as a surprise because it was either Rwanda or Burundi, which was to nominate Mwapachu’s successor.
“This is the right choice. He is competent, a man of action and the people of Rwanda can prove he always performs. He only needs cooperation from member states,” commented Dr Bana.
With his competence not in doubt, Dr. Sezibera has his work pretty much cut out. He has to push into reality the several protocols that have been signed and remained on paper largely because the EAC has not been able to press regional governments to amend the necessary laws that can activate them.
Many a time East Africans have heard about things like the common market and regional integration but the reality or effectiveness of these policies has remained quite elusive. Armed with the necessary credentials, Dr. Sezibera should be able to bring all these concepts from the EAC summits, newspaper columns and speeches into the lives of East Africans.
Dr. Sezibera is blessed to be coming from a country where policies are not mere political rhetoric. We, therefore, expect that he will carry this work ethic to Arusha and see to it that things are done not just talked about. Issues like Non-Tariff Barriers that are still slowing down the benefits of the Common Market should be addressed.
Like in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, Rwanda’s tourism industry is significant to the economy. The much talked about EAC single tourist visa is something that will help boost the sector. It will, therefore, be nice for Dr. Sezibera to push for the implementation of a system that will surely benefit the growing tourism industry.
Just like the President was certain of the doctor’s capabilities, we East Africans are also hoping that he will make all the 120 million of us very proud to be East Africans. Congratulations Dr. Richard Sezibera. Congratulations also to the newly appointed United Nations first Assistant Secretary General for Safety and Security, Mbaranga Gasarabwe Clotilde.