in Arusha, Tanzania
TanzaniaN President Benjamin Mkapa yesterday made his last visit as head of state to the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat in the town of Arusha.
He said he had gone to learn more about the integration process so that he could prepare a comprehensive report for his successor later this year.
He said being president was a very hard responsibility and that he would be relived when his successor takes over. He was responding to a question from the EAC secretariat staff on why it had become very easy to leave power in Tanzania.
â€œWhen you get power, it is not easy to relinquish it. For my case, the constitution demanded that I leave. But even if the constitution did not demand, I was ready to leave. Ten years is a long time in the presidency,â€ he said.
Mkapa praised the staff for serving in a â€œpioneering and challenging role of laying the foundation for the coming together of the people of East Africa.â€ He said full federation of East Africa was inevitable and urged its quicker implementation.
He said full integration requires political will by politicians and other centres of power or individuals of influence like civil society leaders.
He said he regretted that civil societies and political parties have largely been silent on the issue, adding that he was waiting for the manifestoes of political parties in Tanzania and Uganda, where elections are due.
He said ruling parties in the 1960/70s had an agenda of supporting liberation movements in Africa.
He said integration requires negotiations in a spirit of shared sacrifices where â€œsomeone must give a little ground so that we can move together.â€
EAC Secretary General Amanya Mushega praised Mkapa for preparing to hand over peacefully. He said a wise old man once told him that, â€œYou are not successful until you have a successful successor.â€
â€˜10 years so longâ€™