Arusha. With a multiplicity of new programmes, activities and projects rolled out each other day, the East African Community (EAC) could surely be heading to the desired integration.
But analysts have for long emphasised all the activities at hand can be fully or effectively implemented if there was harmony and peaceful co-existence among the six partner states and other players.
Dr Suzan Kolimba, the deputy minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, is one of the regional officials who believes harmonised policies and laws can lead to full functioning of the EAC pillars.
In essence, these are the Customs Union and Common Market Protocol, already enforced since 2005 and 2010 respectively and the Monetary Union which has not taken off despite ratifiction of its protocol by all states.
Dr Kolimba said good governance was essential for the smooth implementation of the EAC Common Market protocol in particular. Why? It has four segments; movement of capital, goods, people and right of establishment.
“Good governance will mitigate possibility of instability in our region in implementation of these and ensure peace and security,” she said here during the recently held EAC 6th Annual Conference on Good Governance, adding:
“It is my humble belief that you will agree with me attaining standard threshold of good governance is the process and not an event. Its attainment is through adjustment of which is through learning the best practice from others.”
Dr Kolimba, nevertheless, said the EAC partner states are determined to enhance good governance, democracy and respect of human rights and to promote peace and security “in line with our history, culture and environment”.
However, she sees some challenges that is likely to remain a challenge that could delay the realisation of a more vibrant and robust economic and politically united community.
“It is a fallacy for one to simply wish regional integration into existence. The need to address governance challenges is at the core of whatever efforts are deployed to promote regional integration,” she pointed out.
The challenge facing the East Africans, she stressed, was how best can the region collectively address governance challenges “that confront our region in a manner that responds to the opportunities that surround us”.
She implored on the EAC partner states to collectively “iron out contentious issues” and finalise sooner or later the Protocol on Good Governance, as a framework on good governance. The document has been on cards for years.
Mr Charles Njoroge, the EAC deputy secretary general (Political Federation) echoed the remarks, saying good governance was not something entirely knew because it is well articulated in the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.
Article 6 (e), for instance, provides for good governance,, including adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law, accountability, transparency, social justice, equal opportunities and equality.
He said democracy must be strengthened for sustainable integration, citing a number of violent conflicts in Africa and political instability which he believes are associated with undemocratic practices and governance deficits.
“The resultant challenges thus have had negative implications to achieving human security, reducing poverty and realizing other general human development,” he told the conference held recently at the EAC headquarters.
He emphasized good governance was a vital ingredient in the integration process, saying alongside with democracy, good governance was cross cutting in all four stages of integration; Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union and Political Federation.
The former Speaker with the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) Daniel Kidega from Uganda once said there was a linkage between poverty and bad governance.
“If we don’t bring in laws which will enhance conducive laws for good governance, poor governance will accelerate poverty and will simply inflict more misery to mankind,”he said during a conference attended by parliamentarians in Nairobi.
He added: “In essence, therefore, unemployment is a key factor often leading to increased crime, radicalisation and terrorism. Insecurity further compounds the misery of inequalities.”
However, he admitted the web between bad governance, poverty and corruption was intricate such that fighting each of them was difficult due to the role normally played by the corruption vice which, according to him, has sunk deep in the society’s social fabric.