Assumed the chair of the East African Community from His Excellency John Pombe Magufuli today at the 18th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State in Dar es Salaam.
I thank H.E. Magufuli for his two-year leadership and appreciate the Summit’s trust and confidence placed in me. I pledge total commitment and will serve to the best of my ability.
Integration is about three key issues; prosperity, security and ‘Undugu’ (brotherhood). These explain why we seek regional integration.
Benefits of integration in our region were first seen in the union between Tanganyika & Zanzibar forming Tanzania in 1964. The fruits are still visible till today.
Countries like China, India have only prospered after they began trading with other countries or blocs. We must also follow suit and integration is key since we can leverage on our 170 million people.
About security, we can learn from the Second World War. It’s first victims were the highly advanced but small countries like Netherlands, Denmark, France, which Hitler overran.
Modernity alone was not enough to defend these countries. So, if we now think of strategic security with the likes of the US, China, India, Russia in mind, we must integrate for security.
You can have small countries with their security guaranteed by a big country like the US has been doing for some Western countries but who is the guarantor of African security? Tunaishi kwa bahati (we live on chance).
Finally on integration is the question of undungu (brotherhood). We have only four language groups in Africa which makes our communication easy. We also have the advantage of the non-tribal Kiswahili language.
Finally, the Summit tasked me to lead a delegation to Brussels to discuss EPA with the EU and the matter of sanctions over Burundi.
Even before I lead that delegation, I must say we object to threats to harm Kenya by the EU. We are harmonizing our stand on this matter and we ask that EU exercises patience.
Also, we don’t agree with the EU placing unilateral sanctions on Burundi. It’s part of why we have not signed the EPA. Burundi is our member and no action should be taken against it without our input. Our house is our house.