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Museveni explains need for EA to federate quickly

By Vision Reporter

Added 16th October 2006 03:00 AM

President Museveni on October 13, 2006 launched the national consultative process for the fast-tracking of the East African political federation at Speke Resort, Munyonyo. Here is his slightly edited statement

President Museveni on October 13, 2006 launched the national consultative process for the fast-tracking of the East African political federation at Speke Resort, Munyonyo. Here is his slightly edited statement

On July 25, 2006, I addressed the NRM MPs at Hotel Africana. At that time, I pointed out that there were eight strategic bottlenecks that have stopped Africa from transitioning from Third World to First World economies and societies. That is to say, that our societies should metamorphose from comprador, bureaucratic middle class and peasant societies to middle class, skilled working class societies. The European societies, between 1400 and 1700, metamorphosed from feudal, artisan and peasant societies to feudal, middle class, working class and peasant societies. They have since 1789, metamorphosed into two class societies namely, the middle class and the skilled working class. I think in future, the European societies will become classless societies — all of them belonging to the middle class; possibly, the only distinction will be between the ones who own capital on the one hand and the scientists, managers and technicians that work for the former on the other hand.
The eight strategic bottlenecks are:
  • A vast continent, with a lot of natural resources, but with a small population.
  • The above problem led to complacency and maintenance of small tribal kingdoms which resulted into colonisation of the whole of Africa, except for Ethiopia.
  • Colonisation of Africa meant loss of sovereignty which, in turn, meant the distortion of the production patterns. Africans started “producing what they did not consume and consuming what they did not produce” — relying on export of raw materials and importing finished goods. This meant Africa losing a lot of value to the outside, first in the form of slaves and now in the form of exporting unprocessed raw materials.
  • Continued balkanization. Although colonisation amalgamated numerous African kingdoms into 53 states, many of these are still sub-optimal and not capable of guaranteeing the future of the black people in the modern world.
  • Undeveloped human resource – The African populations, for much of the past centuries, have not accessed education and health for all. Therefore, many of them have not been able to realise their full potential as human beings using their brain power to the full.
  • Infrastructural underdevelopment i.e. roads, rails, telephones, electricity, harbours, etc.
  • Suppressing the private sector – African leaders, especially after Independence, stifled the private sector. Yet the public sector was not efficient in doing business.
  • Lack of freedom in the form of democracy. Dictatorial governments suppressed human freedoms and were not accountable to the people. A voiceless people could not check the corruption and disorientation of the governments.
    Today, we are here to address the fourth strategic bottleneck: the continued balkanization of Africa, which creates problems of:
    Narrow markets;
  • Inability to negotiate credibly with outsiders because of small populations and small economies;
  • Under-development of science and technology due to inadequate resources for carrying out research;
  • Less attractive economies as investment destinations due to small sizes unlike India and China;
  • Fragmented natural resources (rivers, lakes, mountains, etc) that renders their rational utilisation difficult;
  • Imprisoning African peoples in environmentally inhospitable parts of Africa (e.g. Niger, Turkana, etc);
  • Lack of access to the Sea (Africa has, probably, got the highest number of landlocked countries of all the continents in the world);
  • Inability to build credible military forces that can guarantee the future of the African race;
  • Fragmented cultural and historical linkages;
  • Duplication of efforts;
  • Inability to extend political and military solidarity to one another in case of need (Uganda’s example under Idi Amin).

    In the case of E. Africa, fortunately, the successive generations of the leaders recognised these disadvantages. On June 5, 1963, for instance, the three leaders of East Africa, (Prime Ministers Obote and Kenyatta and President Nyerere), declared as follows:
  • “We the leaders of the people and governments of E. Africa assembled in Nairobi on June 5, 1963, pledge ourselves to the political federation of East Africa. Our meeting today is motivated by the spirit of PanAfricanism and not by mere selfish regional interest. We are nationalists and reject tribalism, racialism or inward-looking policies. We believe that the day of decision has come and to all our people we say: there is no more room for slogans and words. This is our day of action in the cause of the ideals that we believe in and the unity and freedom for which we have suffered and sacrificed so much.
  • Within the spirit of Pan-Africanism and following the declaration of African unity at the recent Addis Ababa conference, practical steps should be taken wherever possible to accelerate the achievement of our common goal.
  • We share a common past and are convinced of our common destinies. We have a common history, culture and customs which make our unity both logical and natural. Our futures are inevitably bound together by the identical aspirations and hopes of our people and the need for similar efforts in facing the tasks that lie ahead of each of our free nations. In the past century the hand of imperialism grasped the whole continent and in this part of Africa our people found themselves included together in what the colonialists styled ‘the British sphere of influence’. Now that we are once again free, or are on the point of regaining our freedom, we believe the time has come to consolidate our unity and provide it with a constitutional basis”.
    Unfortunately, some of the leaders developed cold feet. Even the less ambitious East African Community collapsed in 1977. However, the spirit of East Africanism did not die. In 1996, we revived the negotiations for the East African Treaty of Cooperation. Eventually, the treaty was signed by Presidents Moi, Mwinyi and myself in Arusha on November 30, 1999. Article 5 (2) of that treaty states as follows:
    “In pursuance of the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article, the Partner States undertake to establish among themselves and in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty, a Customs Union, a Common Market, subsequently a Monetary Union and ultimately a Political Federation in order to strengthen and regulate the industrial, commercial, infrastructural, cultural, social, political and other relations of the Partner States to the end that there shall be accelerated, harmonious and balanced development and sustained expansion of economic activities, the benefit of which shall be equitably shared”.
    This part of the treaty makes the EAC the most farsighted of all the regional groupings. There is no other regional economic grouping, in Africa that talks of “ultimately” working for a political Federation of any part of Africa. Most of the groupings content themselves with economic integration and never talk of political integration.
    We, then, need to ask the question: “Is economic integration in Africa enough to guarantee the future of the African People against the rapacious external forces that enslaved us in the past?” The answer provided to this question by their Excellencies, Presidents Mkapa, Kibaki and myself after our retreat in Nairobi on August 28, 2004, was a categorical “NO” – economic integration is not enough. We identified 12 reasons:
  • Economic integration, without political integration, is slow. Co-coordinating several sovereign units, it is bound to be slower than when you are planning for one unit.
  • It will take longer for the benefits of integration to spread around the community evenly. For example, freedom of movement of labour will take long to be realised if at all. Yet employment creation is one of the greatest gains in an Economic Community area. An Economic Community integrates the market. A bigger market supports production units (factories, etc) better. It is a more attractive foreign investment destination. Employment creation is one of the benefits. In one sovereign unit, even when there is unbalanced growth, there are mitigating factors because employment opportunities are equally accessible to all citizens. Revenue from production unit is also accessible to all citizens of the sovereign units irrespective of how developed, or otherwise, their home regions are.
  • Although we are now members of EAC, most of the time we do not negotiate together for African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA), Lome or while negotiating with IMF, World Bank, Paris Club, etc. Uganda, Kenya or Tanzania, negotiating alone, is much weaker than would be the situation if we were negotiating as East Africa.
  • There is a lot of duplication of effort with each country trying to attract investment in similar sectors: – textiles, fruits and others. If it is one country (one sovereign unit), it will not matter if all the textile factories are concentrated in Mombasa which is near the coast but using Uganda cotton. An economic community pulls markets together. It does not, however, solve easily the question of equitable distribution of benefits.
  • Continuing to inconvenience communities that were split by colonialism such as the Tesos, Samia, Pokot, Bagisu (Luhya), Karimojong, Turkana, Luo, Kuria, Masai, Wadigo, Banyankore-Bahaya-Banyambo, Banyarwanda etc. Families are split as well as cultural units. It also splits our consciousness. Instead of thinking of ourselves as one, we are continuing to think of ourselves as Ugandans, Tanzanians, Kenyans, Rwandese or Burundians.
  • The pseudo-borders incapacitate us when it comes to giving each other support on account of the sovereignty ropes that tie us into different political bundles. We could not assist directly the people of Burundi because of these “sovereign ropes”. Instead, it is the UN that came in to help. Yet the UN does not have the requisite knowledge of the situation or the commitment. Hence, the problem takes much longer than the case would be if East Africa would be one political unit. The 800,000 Ugandans that were killed by Amin would never have died if it was not for the notion that Amin encapsulated the sovereignty of Uganda and he could kill us as he liked.
  • While in an Economic Community you will integrate the market, the use of natural resources is not that easily integrated. Turkana in Kenya is very dry. Neighbouring Karamoja in Uganda, while also dry, is much more hospitable. Yet Turkana are always reminded that they are not “Ugandans” never mind that their dialect is 98% similar to the Karimojong dialects. Since people are forced to be imprisoned in these “sovereign units”, they are forced to worsen the environment with their goats and camels destroying the sparse vegetation. If they stopped using these dry areas for cattle and crops, the terrain could be wonderful for tourism that would benefit all of us. Given the balkanization of the Continent, however, the Turkana are forced to stay in that area because that is where their “home” is. Yet our ecology does not respect these sovereign units. If rain is scarce on account of environmental abuse, because people are forced to stay in their “homeland” the adverse conditions notwithstanding, that weather change will not respect the sovereign units.
  • The greatest danger, however, is in the fact that while Europeans and Americans are now basing themselves on Mars and outer-space, Africa has almost forgotten how to make the spear. Our individual countries have no serious capacity to develop defence industries and advanced military technology. What are the implications of this? In all millennia two factors have been self-evident: any society that lags behind in science and technology is exterminated, enslaved or survives at the mercy of others which is the present situation of all the Black Countries other than South Africa; and all societies, even the most primitive ones, have always made their implements (hoes, axes, etc), made their own weapons (spears, arrows, etc), provided their own shelter and produced their own food. It is only the Africans of the colonial and post-colonial era that are not independent in respect of the above capacities. Ancient Egypt was conquered, for the first time, in 525-532 BC by Darius from Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) because the latter had developed iron technology while the former were still using brass, a much weaker metal.

    The whole of Africa was conquered and the spectre of slave trade was visited on us because we lagged behind in technology. The American Red Indians, the Aztecs of Mexico, the Mayas and Incas of Peru and the Aborigines of Australia were exterminated because they lagged behind in technology and had inferior political organisation. The Africans today are surviving at the mercy of others. Rationality would have propelled us to quickly use the recovery of our independence to ensure that Africa stands up once and for all time. The Whites plundered Africa; but we survived the slave trade, colonialism and the neo-colonial regimes. The Whites are now in decline. They will be overtaken by China in a matter of a few decades. The Chinese are so packed up that they have now resorted to a one-child policy. Since Chinese like boys, whenever they produce a girl, they kill her and wait for the boy. Consequently, the proportion of boys versus girls is getting seriously upset. Chinese boys will have no girls to marry.
    More seriously, however, is the problem of natural resources (minerals, agricultural land, etc.). If you notice, the oil and other commodity prices such as copper have been going up. The main factor here, apparently, is China. The 1.3 billion people of China are, finally, getting modernised. Demand for steel, copper, cement, etc. that had collapsed in the past is now picking up. With both India and China becoming modern, the pressure on raw materials will increase. In 20 years’ time when China will have a GDP of US $45 trillion and USA with a GDP of only US $35 trillion, who will prevent China from any adventures that they may feel necessary for their continued prosperity? We survived Western imperialism. Are we to wait in our present weak and dependent state to see what future the Asian imperialism will offer? The present and past leaders of China and India are and were revolutionaries that eschewed and even fought chauvinism and imperialism. One cannot, however, assume that this will always be the case. Suppose you have chauvinistic regimes in these natural resources-deficit areas in future. What will be the fate for a still balkanized Africa in face of these giants? We occupy one of the biggest land masses (11m sq miles) with considerable natural resources. Why can we not turn, at least, parts of this land-mass into a powerful and secure base for the Black race to ensure the future of the Black Man? Besides, the Black Man must also be able to go to the Moon and Mars. Wengine wanakwenda kutafuta nini huko? They are looking for new natural resources as well as new bases for military supremacy. Space-based weapons are going to be the dominant forms of aggression. The Black race is just sitting in these micro-political units created by colonialism (the 53 States of the African Union) completely oblivious of what is going on in the World.
  • Global Warming is caused by the profligate living of the Western Countries. About 17 years ago there was an attempt to control this in the form of the Kyoto Treaty. USA and Russia refused to sign it. Apparently, part of their argument is that Global warming is not, after all, so bad since it will mean that frozen Siberia and Alaska will be suitable for agriculture. Russia, recently, abandoned this wrong position and acceded to the Kyoto Treaty. We salute them.
    Where does that leave Africa, which is already warm? It means that the marginal areas of the Sahel will become drier since. In fact, that process has already started. The snowcap on Mt. Kilimanjaro is becoming smaller and the glaciers on top of the Rwenzori Mountains are getting shorter. The present generation of African leaders must rise to the occasion or else they will be like the African chiefs of yore that were busy fighting each other for local supremacy while the Whiteman was busy taking slaves and colonising the continent.
  • The landlocked countries are held hostage by these irrational boundaries. One may be efficient in Uganda in terms of economic recovery and transformation. If, however, the coastal states do not provide efficient infrastructure in the form of railways and harbours, our efforts would be in vain. How do we handle that possible frustration of the landlocked states (Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia, a possible future Southern Sudan and many others in West Africa)? With an EA political union, this issue would be transferred from international (characterised by, one may even say, interminable negotiations) relations to domestic relations whereby the hinterland populations will combine with others and vote out the regime that is indifferent to the needs of infrastructure. This issue is actually a potential source of trouble, or even, conflict. It needs a strategic answer. The answer, fortunately, is available and hugely more beneficial — an E. African Federation (merge the sovereignties).
  • The misuse of the common natural resources such as Lake Victoria (Nalubale), the Nile River (Kiira), Kagera River, the Mountains (Rwenzori, Kilimanjaro) at the “international” borders. These are getting seriously degraded on account of absence of a common policy. Even when a policy is agreed upon, implementation enthusiasm is as varied as the sovereign units involved.
  • The ability of Africans to hate themselves and love their enemies is amazing.

    Africans now worship the foreign countries that are big and strong. We are always trooping there to get handouts as well as accounting for our domestic policies to the imperialists of yesterday and “quality” controllers of democracy of today!! Yet, at our disposal for the last 40 years, we have got this huge landmass with populations that are linked culturally, linguistically and economically (that is why they smuggle goods from West Africa up to here) that we have failed to turn into strength. The USA, for instance, is made up of a hotch potch of people (Germanic, Latinos, Red Indians, Africans, Arabs, etc).We are only Bantus and Nib Saharans (Nilotics and Nilo-Hamitic) with a lingua franca known as Swahili. We can turn this great area into a powerful base for the Black race.
    The 12 points above answer the first question: “Why are you not satisfied with the economic integration measures?” But there is the second question: “Since E. African Federation is the ultimate goal of the EAC Treaty, why are you rushing?” Our answers are two:
  • Firstly, why delay the implementation of a good project? Is it not more correct to expedite the implementation of a good project rather than delay it? We should bear in mind that the gap between us and the Western and Asian countries is widening. Yet the way we are presently organised, we are not able to address some of the issues at all (e.g. strategic issues of Defence). Why should somebody who is already over-marginalised, delay the major remedies?
  • Secondly, however, there is the sad fact that our independence leaders failed to implement this dream of the East African peoples. Apart from Mzee Kibaki, the rest of us were youth followers of the Independence leaders. We are now also on the verge of leaving leadership without resolving this issue beyond the rather unambitious goals under the East African Community. The younger generation did not taste the advantages that were available in a more integrated East Africa of the 1950s and 960s although it had not attained the federation level yet.
    Who is better placed to implement this vision: Us who have tasted the fruits of East African-ness or the young people that are mesmerised by the lure of USA, Europe and, recently, Dubai, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore? It is our view that we who were near the pioneers are the ones that must implement this dream and bequeath it to our children. What defence do we have for ourselves if we recollect that the British had organised a more cohesive East Africa than the one we have now? Travel was easier and so was the transfer of money and many other aspects of managing our society.
    With these reasons in mind, we set up an inter-state committee of eminent persons for fast-tracking the East African Federation. They were Hon. Amos Wako (Chairman), Prof. Haidari Amani (Vice-Chairperson), Hon. Suruma (Secretary), and Ms. Margaret Chemengich, Mohammed Fakih and Prof. Sam Turyamuhika as Members.
    After three months they produced a report that supported the idea of fast tracking the East African Federation and, even, set up a timetable to achieve the first merger of political sovereignty by 2010 (where the Presidency will be on a rotational basis for three years). The following were the milestones of the timetable:
  • Customs Union (started January 2005);
  • Draft of the Constitution of the Federation of EA (December 2007);
  • Common market (envisaged to be ratified by December 2007);
  • Monetary Union (by December 2009);
  • Approval of the Constitution by the Summit (January 2009);
  • Referendum on the Constitution (December 2009);
  • Political Federation with a rotational Presidency (2010);
  • Election of the President (2013).
    There are some concerns that need to be addressed. There is, for instance, concern about the heavily populated areas of the East Africa flooding the less heavily populated ones, with the former grabbing the agricultural land of the latter. This is easy to deal with. We have already done so in Uganda in our 1995 Constitution. Other than Kibaale where the problem was already complicated by history, we made agricultural land, not a national matter, but a district matter, controlled by the District Land Board. It is only the land for factories, hotels, office-blocks, etc. that is managed by the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA). In a Federated East Africa, therefore, agricultural land should not be a federal matter. It should either be a state matter or, even, a more local matter (regional or district).
    There is also some concern on the issue of freedom of movement of labour. Some may fear that they will be swamped by others that may have accessed education earlier. This is, again, easy to deal with. Indeed, we have already dealt with it in Uganda. We could categorise jobs into two types: the jobs that arise as a consequence of the East African integration (especially the common market) on the one hand and the jobs that are not dependent on the East African integration on the other hand. In the case of Uganda, for instance, under the 1995 Constitution, factory jobs, hotel jobs, etc. are clearly Ugandan. Why? This is because what the factories produce is consumed by all Ugandans irrespective of the location of the factory.

    Therefore, these factory jobs are freely accessible to all Ugandans. The Lugbara in West Nile, may not have a factory in his home region on account of the present unbalanced development in the country. However, he freely competes for jobs in the factories in Kampala, Jinja, Kasese, etc. After all, he supports these factories by buying what they produce. How can you deny him benefits of an enterprise he supports with his spending power? Actually, this is the problem implicit in the half -measures of economic integration without political integration.
    However, civil service jobs in the federating states, local government jobs therein, etc., do not depend on East African integration. These should remain local. Indeed, in Uganda these jobs are managed by the District Service Committees and they recruit locally except, recently, for the CAO.
    There may be concerns on minerals also. A formula for sharing these could also be worked out between the Local, State and the Federation levels to avoid the problems one hears of in Nigeria – some locals attacking the oil pipelines because they think that “their oil” is being taken by “others”.
    However, I would like the East Africans to know that the greatest resource is the East Africans — the people and not the minerals, etc. Why? The people have brain-power (they produce wealth) and they consume (buy). These two are the greatest stimuli to modern advancement in terms of economy and social transformation.
    Japan is a small country with a land area slightly bigger than Uganda but with a population of 125 million. They have no minerals, no oil and no land for agriculture. Yet they are the second most prosperous economy in the world. They are more prosperous than Saudi Arabia. Why? It is because of the human resource. China is now becoming one of the most important countries in the world; and so is India. Why? It is because of their respective human resources – the 1.3 billion Chinese and 1.1 billion Indians. They produce big and consume big. One of my attractions towards East Africa is the 110 million people of East Africa including Rwanda and Burundi. This is the greatest resource as a market and a pool of brainpower.
    In conclusion, it is my proud duty to present to the people of Uganda the reasons for the need to politically merge the people of East Africa, in addition to the economic merger we have already achieved, in the form of a political Federation, fast-track this process so that we become one country by 2010 and diligently implement the intervening phases in the process prior to that date.
    I thank you.
    Ends

    Museveni explains need for EA to federate quickly

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