President Paul Kagame on Wednesday flew to neighbouring Tanzania to attend the country’s 61th independence anniversary usually celebrated on December 9.
Tanzania received its independence from the British in 1961 of Tanganyika which later merged with Zanzibar in 1964 to become Tanzania.
Tanzania’s independence movement started in 1954 and was led by Julius Nyerere, who co-founded the “Tanganyika African National Union (TANU)”. He was educated in Uganda and Scotland and began voicing his anti-colonial, Africanist political agenda when he returned to his country.
Nyerere was inspired by the non-violent independence movement waged by Mahatma Gandhi in India and advocated for a similar resistance in Tanganyika. He was instrumental in uniting several tribal factions over the region to launch a united front against the British.
Elected to the General Council in the national elections of 1958–59, Nyerere, known as teacher or ‘Mwalimu’ in Swahili because of his teaching career, became the first President of an independent Tanganyika in 1961.
It became a Republic the next year and merged with Zanzibar in 1964 after they overthrew the Sultan of Zanzibar. This is when the name of the country changed to Tanzania.
He was also a socialist who laid down state-ownership policies for services and community ownership for farms. When his plans failed to make Tanzania self-reliant, he became the first African leader to voluntarily resign from office.
He remains a respected figure in the region because of his ethical principles. Incidentally, the current ruling party, which is also the only party to have ruled the country, ‘Chama Cha Mapinduzi’, is an extension of TANU after it merged with the Afro-Shirazi party of Zanzibar.
Currently, most of the Zanzibar archipelago remains a semi-autonomous region of the country with a flag that is a variation of the flag of Tanzania.
DRC Has High Appetite For EAC
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has reaffirmed her willingness to join the East African Community.
DRC’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen’Apala, said that DRC was looking forward to increased trade and investment, and strengthened relations with EAC, adding that her relations with EAC Partner States had largely been at a bilateral level.
Hon. Pen’Apala said that DRC was keen on cooperating with the EAC for maximum exploitation of both natural and human resources in the region.
Hon. Pen’Apala expressed hope that this would be the last round of negotiations before DRC is admitted into the EAC.
The Minister said that DRC has a big population who are consumers that constitute a big market for the EAC, adding that DRC was also in dire need of investors and was therefore offering incentives for entrepreneurs who would like to invest in the country.
Hon. Pen’Apala noted that DRC faces security challenges in the eastern part of the country, adding that the country was therefore keen on tackling these challenges together with the EAC.
The Minister disclosed that DRC had embarked on a national programme of reconstruction in various sectors including infrastructure, agriculture, energy and environmental conservation. He said that DRC had the world’s second largest natural ecosystem in the Congo Forest and was keen on preserving this system from wanton destruction to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Asked whether DRC’s membership to EAC would pose challenges because it already belongs to COMESA and SADC, Hon. Pen’Apala said that there was no problem in multiple membership to various regional economic communities (RECs), adding that all RECs in Africa were working in harmony to ensure that Africa becomes a real common market by the year 2063.
Hon. Pen’Apala was addressing journalists after the official launch of the negotiations between the EAC and DRC for the admission of the latter into the Community in Nairobi, Kenya.
Speaking at the media briefing, the Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers who is also Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for EAC and Regional Development, Hon. Adan Mohamed, said that the EAC and DRC negotiation teams were expected to conclude their negotiations within 10 days.
Hon. Mohamed said that the report of the negotiations would then be presented to the Council who would later submit it to the Summit of EAC Heads of State for consideration.
CS Mohamed said that the negotiations between EAC and DRC for the admission of the latter into EAC was good news for a continent that has been performing below its potential in terms of its share of global trade.
On his part, EAC Secretary General Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki said that EAC expects seamless negotiations with DRC that would result in increased trade and investment opportunities for the benefit of the people of East Africa.
The Secretary General said that substantial progress had been made since the Verification Mission visited DRC in the months of June and July 2020.
“As you are aware the 18th Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State, the summit received and considered the report of the Council on the Verification Mission on the Admission of the DRC to join the EAC and directed the Council to expeditiously commence and conclude negotiations with the DRC for admission to the East African Community and report to the next Summit,” said Dr. Mathuki.
Dr. Mathuki said that the negotiations were an important milestone in the entire roadmap of the admission of DRC into the EAC.
“Once this phase is successfully concluded, it shall pave the way for the accession phase which literally concludes the admission process and upon pronouncement of Summit on the matter, DRC will be admitted as the seventh member of the EAC,” said Dr. Mathuki.
“DRC’s intention to join the Community is not by default. DRC shares borders with five (5) EAC Partner States, namely Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan,” added the Secretary General.
Also present at the ceremony were the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, Hon. Ngoga Martin, the Judge President of the East African Court of Justice, Justice Nestor Kayobera, EALA Member Hon. Kennedy Kalonzo, Kenya’s EAC Affairs PS Dr. Kevit Desai and his South Sudan counterpart Hon. Andrea Ariik Malueth.
Leading the negotiation teams is Dr. Alice Yalla for EAC and Prof. Serge Tshibangu Kabeya for DRC.
Uganda Doubles Health Workers to Clear Trucks Backlog at Border Posts
Uganda said it was increasing health officers at the Busia and Malaba borders posts, from 50 to 100, as part of efforts to clear the backlog of trucks at the border posts.
Dozens of trucks laden with petroleum products and other goods have been stationed at these borders due to delayed covid-19 testing triggering a low supply of fuel in Uganda which has led to price hikes and immediate protests.
The delay of trucks was largely caused by Uganda’s rejection of Covid-19 test certificate issued by Kenya government. However, after the impasse, Uganda has agreed to recognise the Covid-19 test certificate that shall be issued by Kenya’s Ministry of Health with a validity period of 72 hours using either PCR or RDT testing protocols.
Kenya, on her part, informed the 3rd Joint Multi-Sectoral Virtual Meeting of Ministers of EAC Affairs, Health and Transport held on Friday of the availability of sufficient Covid-19 rapid diagnostic test (RDT) kits and staff to support Uganda in Covid-19 testing at the border posts.
Kenya affirmed readiness to immediately deploy 15 or more health workers and provide RDT test kits to enhance Covid-19 testing at Malaba and Busia border posts.
The meeting that was chaired by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for EAC and Regional Development, Hon. Adan Mohamed underscored the need to minimize administrative delays to enhance rapid clearance of the existing backlog at Malaba and Busia borders. They noted that the current trend of clearing truck drivers was not sufficient to clear the truck backlog.
The Cabinet Secretaries/Ministers commended the Republic of Uganda for progress made in implementing the directives made on 10th January, 2022 and urged Uganda to increase her capacity of testing truck drivers to facilitate faster clearance of goods.
The meeting urged the Republic of Kenya to support the process by providing additional workforce and equipment to expedite the testing and clearance process.
The Cabinet Secretaries/Ministers directed the Secretariat to convene a follow-up meeting of the Ministers/Cabinet Secretary of health to discuss the long-term solutions to easing cross-border movement.
The Friday meeting was a follow-up to the 2nd Joint Multi-Sectoral Virtual Meeting of the Ministers/Cabinet Secretaries responsible for EAC Affairs, Health and Transport that was held on Monday, 10th January, 2022. At the time, more than 4,500 trucks had stalled at the two border posts due to the mandatory Covid-19 testing requirements introduced by Uganda on 20th December, 2021.
The 2nd Joint Multi-Sectoral Virtual Meeting noted that this was a deviation from the 14 days Covid-19 testing period, previously agreed at the regional level and monitored through the Regional Electronic Cargo and Drivers Tracking System (RECDTS).
To mitigate future recurrence of the border traffic impasse, the 2nd Joint Multi-sectoral Meeting further directed Partner States to recognize certificates from accredited/national recognized laboratories with a validity of 14 days for fully vaccinated truck drivers and 72 hours for unvaccinated truck drivers moving goods across the region.
Further, they agreed that Partner States should implement the EACPass to fast-track verification of Covid-19 test results.
“The EACPass is a system that integrates all EAC Partner States’ negative test results for Covid-19 and those vaccinated, and can be easily accessed on mobile phone. It is set to ease the turnaround time at border points,” said EAC Secretary General Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki.
The 21st Meeting of the Sectoral Council of Ministers responsible for Health further approved the EACPass as a regional platform to facilitate movement of all persons in the region and beyond and also directed EAC Partner States to facilitate the implementation and use of the EACPass as a platform for quick verification of Covid-19 test certificates and vaccination status for travellers.
East Africans Mobilsed For Mass Vaccination Against Covid
East Africans have been called upon to turn out in large numbers and get vaccinated against covid as the only way to contain the further spread of the deadly pandemic.
Dr.Peter Mathuki the EAC secretary General said on Monday that resistance to vaccines was undermining efforts to jumpstart the regional economy after the damage caused by the virus.
He said that the global trend was that vaccination certificates would soon be required for travellers and those seeking to participate in meetings and conferences.
Dr. Mathuki hailed EAC Partner States for their on-going effort to integrate their systems with the EACPass, a digital system that would be used to track negative Covid-19 test results and vaccination certificates thereby easing cross-border travel and trade in the region.
The SG who was making his New Year Address to Staff of EAC Organs and Institutions through a hybrid format, said that synergy among EAC Partner States and other stakeholders was the best way to contain the pandemic.
“One of the most gigantic challenges of our time is how to manage our region with the current global pandemic. It is a daunting task to bring everyone on board in addressing Covid-19 related challenges, specifically to have a common understanding and appreciation of the risks, and to comply with preventive, containment and mitigation measures. I encourage that we pull together, notwithstanding that the situation is worsening with the emergence of the Omicron variant,” said Dr. Mathuki.
“We continue to operate under a challenging environment of Covid-19, which has and continues to affect every organisation and family. As a result of Covid-19, EAC as a region, has lost a number of leaders and citizens,” said the SG.
Dr. Mathuki reminded EAC Staff of their obligation to assist Partner States overcome diverse socio-economic and political challenges that face the region by developing relevant policies, strategies, guidelines and systems to address the challenges.
Dr. Mathuki hailed EAC Organs and Institutions for various achievements in 2021.
He disclosed that the East African Legislative Assembly had held eight (8) sittings during which it passed several Bills among them, ‘The East African Community Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2020’ and ‘The East African Community Integrity and Anti-Corruption Bill, 2021.”
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