It has been reported that East African Community partner states are generally slow implementing the common market protocol at different levels just two years away from the 2015 deadline.
The biggest challenge is delays and commitment in harmonising national laws to fit with the requirements of the protocol. The protocol, which calls for the free movement of goods, labour, capital and services in the region, came into effect on July 1, 2010 and was to be implemented over a five-year period.
Unfortunately, we have only two years left and little effort has been done to meet the deadline. While the protocol requires that the partner states guarantee the free movement of EAC citizens across the bloc, this is far from being achieved, and citizens from member states are now wondering what benefits they will get from the EAC if they are not allowed free movement.
As we may recall, the right to free movement of persons include: the right to enter the territory of a Partner State without a visa; the right to move freely within the territory of any Partner State; the right to stay in the territory of a Partner State; the right to exit without restrictions; and the right to full protection by the laws of a Partner State.
Can we reasonably hope that full commitment to these rights may be achieved only within a period of two years from now? It is hard to believe.
Therefore, the EAC legislators have a big challenge ahead. They should act with diligence for the benefit of the citizens who expected a lot from them.
Reaction to the story, “Kagame roots for African unity”, (The New Times, April 17)