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Tanzania elections as seen in the light of EAC

By Luke Anami | October 27th 2015
Residents of Dar es Salaam line up to cast their votes during Tanzania's general election. (Photo: Pius Cheruiyot/Standard)

As Tanzania elects its 5th president, the position the country takes on the East African Community (EAC) will be under scrutiny.

While all the five EAC partners of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi have each taken a slow approach to the integration process, Tanzania has come under heavy criticism from most of her neighbours that it has slowed down the process.

A vote for John Magufuli is seen as a vote for Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and therefore continuation of the Republic of Tanzania's policy on the EAC integration process, while Edward Lowassa is likely to change it.

Since the EAC's revival in 1999, following ideological differences in 1977 that led to its collapse, the EAC agreed on four pillars, on which the current integration process is hinged. They are the customs union, common market, the monetary union and finally the political federation.

But while Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have shown passion, the perception from Kenya's politicians is that Tanzania and Burundi have slowed down the EAC integration process by failing to implement the requirements of the protocols.

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale says East Africa should not expect change if Magufuli wins.

"I am praying, predicting and wishing that Lowassa wins. The mindset of CCM is too conservative for EAC," Dr Khalwale said during an interview with The Standard.

The lawmaker, who served as assistant minister to the EAC between 2006 and 2007, said only a new leader from a different party can bring the desired change in the region.

"Kenyans should not expect any change within the EAC if Tanzania's CCM's candidate is elected. CCM is anti-EAC integration," he said.

East African Legislative Assembly member Peter Mathuki (Kenya), who is among the election observer's in Dar es Salaam, said throughout the campaign period in Tanzania, most people especially the youth called for change.

Integration activities

"The current mood in Tanzania is that people want change. Most of the youth want their country to play a major role in the EAC," Mr Mathuki said.

He added: "However, they are most concerned with what is in the EAC that they can benefit from, especially trade, employment and other integration activities."

Mathuki said Lowassa seems to represent the views of most youths.

"The young people are strong participants in this general election. They are very keen on the EAC integration process," he said.

Even though politicians think President Jakaya Kikwete was a stumbling block on the EAC integration process, the business community thinks otherwise.

Former East Africa Business Council chairman and current ambassador to the East African Business Council Keli Kiilu says most politicians and some Kenyans do not understand how Tanzania operates. He said the decision making process in Tanzania is wider than those of other partner states.

"There is a big difference on how Tanzanians view the EAC integration process. When you get to each EAC partner state, one must engage and understand the culture and dynamics of each country," Mr Keli said.

"In Tanzania, no single individual can make a decision on the EAC matters. They value wide consultations and consensus on every issue that comes up. Even though the process may take long, once consensus is arrived at Tanzania always abides with it," he added.

He cautions that lack of understanding of each country's position could lead to poor relations, a matter that should be avoided at all costs.

"Let us built bridges with our neighbours. Understand and let them understand you without burning bridges," he said.

When Kikwete made a speech in Kenya's Parliament, he underscored the importance of the EAC trade between the two countries.

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