The geographical expression known as East Africa, has had the big dream of one day becoming an integrated, economic, cultural, and political entity with a single military parade, since the creation of these republics as independent states in the 1960s. The African cultures and African languages spoken here are not identical, but from the beginning the leaders knew that these republics had real connections among their people – in fact some dreamed of an all-africa republic.
Why is it then, that these dreams have never been realised? Why is is that all the potential of an entity as big as that, lays wasted? All the regimes that come, they make some sort of attempts to form the one republic but fail flat.
The cause of this failure is that the state of politics – when you get down to the nitty-gritty of how governance is practiced in each of the East African Community intending countries, there in lies the seeds of discord, which have prevented the region from being a truly unified Geopolitical country. There are not rules the leaders stick to, everyone makes and breaks the rules as and when it fits, no proper rule of entrenched to follow.
Becoming a single-state, under a single political administration, covering six countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan) would be a monumental achievement, but the countries do not share a common and just political philosophy. The architectures and ideology in some of the countries are not based on popular beliefs, neither are they entrenched in human freedoms and rights, the people are ruled over
And yet the most interested countries, by expressions of their leaders, have leaders who have never conformed to civil rule. They have practiced from mild to full bloody military dictatorships. Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan fall in this trap. Tanzania and Kenya have had some basic common sense civilian leadership style, even though Tanzania’s socialist history may a big problem coming around to fly capitalist Kenya. These others, even though the leaders may tolerate each other for the duration of a conference or a state visit, that is about all, do not read much into it. Any moment the leaders, especially these ex-military, self-crowned generals, even if they put on suits, underneath they have camouflage. They used guns to obtain the power they have, and can only use military platoons to codon off political power here, extinguish competition there, and any form of real competition based on ideas, does not stand a chance.
Moreover it is these same leaders who clamour the most, and potend to love African unity. Maybe in their whitewashed brilliant image, they think they can compete favorably on a wider canvas, but not knowing that in real sense, having failed to compete favorably at home, renders them incapable of competing on a wider canvas for political power.
How then can they participate in a geo-political government, where the people and they system would not tolerate dictatorship?
Political integration, bringing together people across the cultures and political persuasions, this is the work of stable leaders, who are well practiced in common decency and democratic rule. It is not the work of former rebels or generals.
The countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan have never known democracy; presidents are propped by military, and run quasi-military governments.
Kenya and Tanzania, with poor their democracy but having managed to de-link military from politics, and better structured intelligence forces, from full time engagement in partisan politics.
As it stands, this dream is unrealistic under the current prop of leaders, owing to the very basic reality of their own leadership styles.