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?


  1. To my opinion, H.E President J.Kikwete did not put anything in the name of POSITION of Tanzania about EAC. He was simply complaining to be isolated from the fast going EAC. Tanzania is since then a member of EAC. The position could be eithr to withdraw from the union or allow the coalition of the wiling to continue peacefully. So to me no position has been ultered by Tz.

    It follows therefore that his speech was to inform Tanzanians continue to sleep, Haraka haraka haina baraka. We must walk while they are running. Will we reach??? Dilema.

  2. I think there is a big misconception in Tanzania’s approach in EAC issues !
    As a county it should have its own way, otherwise it wont be a union of independent countries with each and every one of them with different background history !
    Been cautious is taken to be fearful of so many things BUT the same is not said of the likes of UK who retained their Pound Vs Euro in EU, Norway not been a member of EU, etc !
    There are a lot of bias analysis of Tanzanian’s way of been in EAC and till there is a shift in this, Tanzania will be taken as coward of the progressive matters of the union wrongly !

  3. Kikwete, focus on changing mindsets of Tanzanians about their fear of their neighbors.

    The difference between a leader and the led is that the former tells the truth while the latter always prefers to hear good news that strikes a chord with his/her interests. I have known Kikwete to be a leader and therefore what he said was the truth, one that resonates with a good number of Tanzanians. However, it would also be important for the president to explain to the country and the region what plans he has both in-terms of policy making and diplomacy to ensure that the process progresses at a sustainable and “normal” pace. One would argue that his government has among others increased visa charges to keep expatriates at bay and protect jobs for locals but doesn’t this also rub free movement of people in a wrong way?For how long will Tanzania complain that the process is rushed and yet it does not propose alternatives to ensuring that integration will benefit both the current generation and those in the future?
    As regards pulling out of the integration, as much as Tanzania has not quit the block, its in activeness makes its presence just a formality. Go on the streets and ask Tanzanians how many currencies of other members of the block they have used, many will tell you that they haven’t but go to Ugandan, Rwandan and Kenyan streets, you will finds many mobile money outlets dealing in the various currencies of the region. This shows that there is more trade among the other three members-”coalition of the willing” than Tanzania and the entire region. People integrate not governments-if Tanzania prevents its people from mingling with others in the region, how will they overcome their fear of living with them (East Africans)?.
    Its okay for Tanzania to focus on empowering its people but is equally important for it to actively participate in the integration process because “it is the time of the idea”. Reforms should be made at the top and the relief is felt at the bottom.

  4. The current problems facing East Africa integration are the same problems that led to its collapse. We need to understand what values did our fathers stand for in their quest for unity and why did it fail as a block. but one thing we must note is that East Africa shall not be united on the basis of whether facing east or west but rather forward as Nkrumah had once said. economic integration stands to benefit a class of people who in my view are very limited. political integration is the way forward for us east Africans followed by economic. we even stand a better chance that we have one common local language that is spoken by most of us Kiswahili.

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