University students from the region have called for a slow and systematic process in achieving the EAC political federation and warned that fast tracking it may be counterproductive.
The students made the observation during the first EAC students’ debate on integration organised by the Nyerere Centre for Peace and Research in Arusha, Tanzania.
They urged that the Partner States implement various agreements previously signed, and that greater authority be ceded to the bloc’s Organs/Institutions such as the Secretariat, the East African Court of Justice and the East African Legislative Assembly as building blocks to an empowered regional centre.
“We are not against a political federation but all we are saying is that it shouldn’t be rushed,” said James Tayebwa, a student from Uganda.
“There is need for partner states to cede more of their sovereignty, otherwise, how do you talk about a political federation when the EAC organs like the EACJ and EALA still lack powers to execute their full mandate?”
Frank Mbele, a student from Tanzania, said that there should be full implementation of the both the customs union and the common market protocols before the idea of a political federation can be thought of.
This, he argued, will drive faster integration once the region is positioned as strong trade partner with developed economies.
The debate, running under the theme, “Understanding the benefits and challenges of regional political integration in East Africa,” is being attended by observers from the ministries responsible for East African Community affairs in the member states as well as university lecturers.
The main objective of the debate is to promote continuous dialogue among the youth and interest them in advocating regional integration initiatives.
Jesse Kimani Mutua, a student from Nairobi, said that a well thought out strategy on the equal benefits of the integration process by all partner states should be spelt out first before a political federation comes into force.
“We should avoid a situation where some partner states may be turned into markets for others. There should be tangible benefits for all the states,” he added.
However, a section of other students expressed optimism that the political federation was on the right track.
By Gashegu Muramira, The New Times