East Africa's political federation may not be realised if the five member states of the East African Community (EAC) do not fully implement the already agreed federation protocols, experts have cautioned.
Delegates to a recent meeting on the second EAC Dialogue on Political Federation said the protocols yet to be enforced include the Common Market Protocol that was signed in 2009 and the Customs Union Protocol signed in 2004, but came into force in 2005.
Speaking at the meeting held in Dar es Salaam, Prof Gilbert Khadiagala of the University of Pretoria said EAC federation will be achieved after success in the region's economy that would be obtained after executing the economic protocols.
“Economic integration is the foundation for political integration and political integration assists in the consolidation of economic integration, as such the two compliments each other”, Prof Khadiagala said, adding: “Economic and political integration happens only where the ultimate objectives of regionalism is to denude sovereignty and invest in strong regional institutions.”
He said for the EAC to transform into a political federation, member states should move from inter-governmental co-operation towards the supra-national level.
Prof Khadiagala said challenges to political federation include inadequate dialogue on the hurdles and lingering mistrust about economic gains.
Prof Sam Tulya-Muhika from Makerere University said it was imperative to eliminate all trade barriers in the region for the federation to be realised.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the civil society, academicians, political scientists and government officials from the EAC region. “Economic management is a primary function of the state and hence good economics is the best politics in this regard; political integration is key for successful economic integration,” Prof Tulya-Muhika said.
He called for the harmonisation of national policies and laws with regional ones as well as proper management of free movement of factors of production, saying they are the building blocks to monetary union and political federation. The meeting was unanimous on the need to broaden participation to cover more stakeholders, sectors and groups in the EAC dialogue on political integration.
A recent report of ‘Team of Experts on Addressing the Fears, Concerns and Challenges of the East African Federation’ indicated that there was still fear that partner states would lose power and independence of
decision-making while citizens are unaware of how political federation would modify the sovereignty of the partner states, and the kind of sovereignty that will emerge out of the federation. EAC political federation will be the last in the four stages on integration, including the Common Market, Customs Union and the Monetary Union..