Wake Up Call or Lullaby? President Kikwete’s Speech on Tanzania and the EAC


After months of uncertainty and speculation about Tanzania being isolated within the EAC President Kikwete has made his statement before parliament: Tanzania, he explained, will neither pull out of the EAC nor is the country to be pushed into a hasty integration process it is not ready for.

For finally presenting Tanzania’s stand he got almost unanimous applause. Where others – politicians and media – had confused the public with misleading, exaggerated and irresponsible statements, the head of the country had once more acted as the voice of reason and moderation. So goes the story. But is this true and is it enough?

Has President Kikwete really addressed the underlying causes for the sometimes not so diplomatic wrangles between the “Coalition of the Willing” (Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda) and the alleged “laggard” in terms of integration?

Or did  President Kikwete “skip the issues where his client is in a bad shape”, as Ani Jozeni asks in the “Saturday Guardian” (9 November 2013).

And what would it take for Tanzania to address these underlying problems: “that Tanzania sticks to a the idea of a ‘state-based integration’, whilst the others prefer a market-based integration” (Jozeni). As reflected in the different attitudes and conflicts on the land question.

And “how long”, asks Kitila Mkumbo in the same paper,  “are we going to hide our incompetence by being protective and isolating, …where aggressive Kenyan and Ugandan youth could infect our young people with the attitudes of competitiveness, assertiveness and aggressiveness that are badly needed in this competitive world and that are seriously lacking in our workforce.” As reflected in Tanzania’s fear and reticence on working permits and tourist visa. 

In short, will Kikwete’s presidential speech wake up the “sleeping giant” of Tanzania or will it be taken as just another lullaby?

Anybody for comment, answers and further questions?