The East African Community (EAC), a regional bloc committed to attaining political federation, regards issues of good governance, especially democracy, essential components to its integration agenda, the regions Secretary General Richard Sezibera has said.
“This calls for engagement and consultations with policy makers and other stakeholders who contribute to efficience of democratic process and the legitimacy of its outcomes,” the EAC boss added.
He was speaking in Arusha over the weekend at the Eighth African Governance Forum organised by the EAC Secretariat, the African Union Commission (AUC), and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
He noted that many African conflicts were governance related and more specifically driven by flawed electoral processes and failure to appreciate diversity.
He said democratic governance was at the core of the initiatives aimed at laying the foundation for political federation, stating that it was one of the pillars of the proposed political integration.
Cooperation in defense, peace and security, foreign policy coordination, stakeholder mobilisation and mass sensitization were also needed, he said.
“The EAC Treaty under Chapter 23 also provides for cooperation, peace and security, defense, good governance and coordination of foreign policy.
“And as we move towards federation it is imperative we share information, agree or even disagree on best practices, be able to condemn bad practices and develop our own contextually suitable mechanism and benchmarks to guide our integration,” he said.
He lauded the enunciation of the African Governance Forum, saying it was resonating with signs of current times and blending with the EAC initiatives in laying the foundation for political integration.
The sub-Regional Forum for regional economic communities that ran under the Theme: 'Democracy, Elections and the management of Diversity in Africa,’ was opened by Tanzanian State Minister Good Governance, George Mkuchika, who stressed that regional integration as the only way to empower small nations against ‘economic threats’ from developed countries.
The two-day forum attracted about 200 participants, among them members of the East African Regional Electoral Commissions forum, Liaison officers to the AUC and representatives from Non-Government Organisations working at sub-regional levels.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative to Tanzania, Alberic Kacou and veteran media personalities Jenerali Ulimwengu and Makwaia wa Kuhenga were among the participants.