Tanzania is threatened by this pact.Threatens to set up rival pact with Burundi & DRC.
NAIROBI Tanzania was not represented in a single visa deal that was jointly announced on Tuesday during the ongoing World Tourism Market meeting in United Kingdom. Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda were represented during the deal which is set to come in force by January next year.
Through the single travel document, member country states will adopt a joint Visa to facilitate free movement of tourist and citizens alike. “Other EAC members will join us along the way since we have not locked any one out,” said Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Mrs. Phylis Kandie while responding to the press questions on the absence of Tanzania in the deal.
Tanzania is a competing country in Tourism and other economic pillars in the region. The country’s absence in key EAC meetings bringing together heads of states continues to raise eyebrows as per the regional integration. Tanzania’s minister for EAC Affairs, Samuel Sitta, recently told a charged Parliament in Dodoma that Dar es Salaam would not wait for a “divorce certificate” from Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, but would “shoot before we are shot”.
Thecitizen.co.tz reported that on Wednesday, East African Cooperation minister Samuel Sitta told Parliament in Dodoma that government officials had been advised against taking part in regional meetings until an explanation was forthcoming on the tripartite meetings championed by Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda.
Mr Sitta, who said Tanzania felt “shortchanged” by these meetings, revealed that a higher authority–implying President Jakaya Kikwete–had told Foreign Affairs minister Bernard Membe not to attend a ministerial council meeting held in Nairobi last week. The minister himself said he had directed his deputy, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, to give Thursday’s Bujumbura meeting a miss. It was not immediately clear if it was this same meeting that Mr Mkuchika attended. His statement made no mention of the current challenges in the bloc or Tanzania’s stand on the Coalition of the Willing–a name coined to describe the trilateral arrangement by Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. “East African cooperation will be attained by committing ourselves to implementing what has been jointly agreed,” he added.
Tanzania has been muting the idea of forming a rival coalition with Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo to counter the grouping of the other three partner states. Tanzania does not approve of a pact that exists between Kenya,Rwanda and Uganda. Leader of the Opposition Freeman Mbowe, also speaking in the same Parliament, cautioned against abandoning the idea of regional integration. EAC boss Richard Sezibera weighed in on the debate on Friday in Bujumbura, saying the concerns raised by Tanzania and Burundi did not necessarily mean a falling-out was on the cards.The secretary general was quoted implying that the secretariat had consulted the five partner states on the state of EAC integration. He added: “East Africans are urged not to be unduly be alarmed because the challenges are being addressed and will be further considered at the forthcoming high level meetings of the Community.
There have been persistent press reports, including misrepresentation of the matter.” Officials of the Arusha-based Secretariat have been reluctant to discuss the new developments in the region. But one of them confided in The Citizen on Sunday that a lot more would emerge during the coming Heads of State Summit in Kampala, which will be preceded by the ministerial and other meetings of senior officials. The minister spoke on the same day Presidents Uhuru, Kagame, Museveni and Kiir signed a host of protocols and agreements in Kigali, including free movement of goods and persons, infrastructural development and transformation into a Single Customs Union.
The pacts were signed on the sidelines of the three-day “Transform Africa Summit” to which Tanzania and Burundi, both EAC member states were not invited. Speaking after announcing the launch of the joint visa, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Mrs. Phylis Kandie, Uganda’s Tourism and Wildlife Minister Ms Agnes Egunyo andRwanda’s High Commissioner to UK Ambassador William Nkurunziza said deal was a major boost to tourism.
The EAC unity is under threat.Tanzania & Burundi have been boycotting the pact.Odinga has offered to mediate
“We have been in discussion over this matter for the last six months and we are proud to announce that we finally have a joint visa that has made the three countries borderless. This is an opportunity for us to increase tourist numbers as we will jointly offer diversified tourism products,” Says Kandie. Tourism products from the three countries, pointed Kandie are varied and with different tastes and noted that the single joint visa will now enrich diversity at the same time increasing the value of the product.
Rwanda High commissioner noted that the single joint visa was cost effective and will boost the strategy of repositioning tourism products in the region.
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