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The East African : July 7th 2014
The EastAfrican 18 OPINION JULY 5-11,2014 PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY THE NATION MEDIA GROUP Get a move on with Customs Te≥≥ito≥y THE ADVENT of the Single Customs Territory is a major step towards rebooting intra-regional trade and implementing the East African Common Market. Already, importers from landlocked countries using the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam have started reaping the benefits due to the short time taken to transport goods to various destinations. For instance, the pilot project reveals that transit cargo, which used to take 22 days on the road from Mombasa via Kampala to Kigali, now takes just six days, enabling the business community to save on operational costs and guarantee steady supplies to Kigali. It is good news for Rwanda, which will be sav- ing an estimated $98 million annually as the cost of transporting a single container drops by 32 per cent. Taxes are now paid at the point of entry and remitted to countries of destination, eliminating much of the red tape that has been such a major barrier to free flow of goods and intra-regional trade. However, countries in the region have failed to meet the deadline of a fully operational Single Custom Territory by July 1, mainly due to bureaucracy and hitches with technology. This means the Single Customs Territory will be implemented in phases. We want to see a fully functional Customs Un- ion and partner states that are still clinging to sovereignty should let go as a matter of urgency. They need to eliminate all duties, restrictive regulations and internal border Customs controls between partner states to allow the free movement of labour, goods and services. Child soldie≥s: Et tu, Amisom? Reports that child soldiers are being used in conflicts in Somalia, DRC, South Sudan and Uganda are alarming; the region as a whole must find ways of stopping this vicious practice. Most alarming is the news that the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) and the country’s army are also using child soldiers despite being funded by the United Nations, which outlaws the use of underage children in conflict. A new United Nations report says that Ami- som and the Somali National Army had 223 children fighting for them while Al Shabaab had 908 children by the end of last year. Forcing children to fight as soldiers in conflicts means they are subjected to a range of traumas. They are often forced to kill against their conscience and most of them are raped during their time as soldiers. While countries contributing to Amisom have no control over Al Shaaab, they can at least ensure there are no children in their ranks. A PUBLICATION OF THE NATION MEDIA GROUP LINUS GITAHI: Chief Executive Officer TOM MSHINDI: Ag. Editorial Director PAMELLA SITTONI: Managing Editor Nation Centre, Kimathi Street, P.O. Box 49010-00100 G.P.O. Nairobi. Tel. 3288000, 2221222, 337710, Fax 214531, 213946. E-mail: email@example.com © Nation Media Group Mountain gorillas, Lake Victoria’s fish and the wildebeest don’t recognise colonial borders.” Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo I attended the mountain gorilla baby naming ceremony in Rwanda, dubbed Kwita Izina, last Tuesday. It is a big deal, attended by thousands of people, and a fascinating event. The mountain gorilla, a large, strong ape inhabiting Africa’s volcanic slopes, has few natural predators. Yet due to detrimental human activity, such as poaching, civil war, and habitat destruction, the mountain gorilla has Rwanda, Uganda, and DRC have a system under which they share the spoils from gorilla tourism become the most endangered type of gorilla, with only around 700 mountain gorillas living in the wild. There habitat is limited to the Bwin- di Impenetrable National Park in western Uganda, and the Virungas mountain region of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Nearly 400 of the gorillas are in Rwanda. Anyway, I found myself wondering Revenue-sha≥ing in the mist: Go≥illas and SCT which were the most East African and integrationist animals in the region — the mountain gorillas, the fishes of Lake Victoria, or the nearly two million animals that make up the annual Great Migration from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the pastures of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya? The mountain gorillas, Lake Victo- ria’s fishes, and the wildebeest don’t recognise colonial borders. You could argue that they are the original and true pan-Africanists and the unacknowledged inspiration for the single East African visa. The fishes of Lake Victoria, however, are divisive. Every other week, you hear stories of Ugandan or Tanzanian authorities arresting Kenyan fishermen fishing “illegally” in their portion of the lake, and confiscating their nets. At a restaurant in Kigali, we inquired where they get their fish. They said Kenya. Surprising; I thought the main source would have been Uganda. The wildebeest too have caused division. Kenyan and Tanzanian nationalists have squabbled on social media over whom the animals belong to and such things. Enter the mountain gorillas. The Kinshasa government is always sparring with Rwanda and Uganda, accusing them of propping up rebels in the Rallies a≥e constitutional, so why this f≥enzy of fea≥? that the Coalition for Reform and Democracy’s Saba Saba rally is on. The confirmation is a relief. Be- W cause political rallies only tend to degenerate into chaos, harassment of motorists and passers-by and looting of businesses — and, more worryingly, clashes at the community level of supporters and non-supporters — when the police move in to break up demonstrators with their batons, teargas and water cannon. Or when organised supporters of the opposing side are allowed to disrupt rallies. This is one fact that all those calling for calm — from the United Nations to the private sector to religious organisations — have ignored in their diagnosis of and predictions for the Saba Saba rally. It is never the political rally that is the problem in and of itself. It is the reaction of the state security apparatus that is usually the problem. Together with unlawful attempts by supporters of the opposing side to disrupt the political rally. In short, CORD is within its consti- tutional rights to hold the Saba Saba rally. It is as should be expected that the state and its security apparatus appreciate and uphold those constitutional rights. That said, it is alarming to have witnessed the build-up to the rally. Flower farm and tea plantation work- ith the confirmation of the massive deployment of security personnel around Nairobi, it is clear ers who are not Gikuyu are streaming out of Naivasha and Kiambu. There are unconfirmed reports of a Gikuyu mobilisation in Nairobi’s low-income areas, as well as in Kiambu, Naivasha and Nakuru, evidenced in the circulation of leaflets warning Luo to leave. Why? What is Gikuyu mobilisation for or against? How has it come to this? Here we come to the other fact that those calling for calm have also missed. This is that the unrelenting belligerence, propaganda and shameless twisting of the facts by the Jubilant leadership and their supporters, including on social media, since It is alarming that flower farm and tea plantation workers are streaming out of Naivasha and Kiambu the general election has achieved an alarming climax. At the community level, many Gikuyu appear to believe that they have become the victims rather than the unwitting beneficiaries of our colonial and post-Independence systemic discrimination on ethnic grounds. The script has been flipped. History has been erased. Together with any possibility of rational discussion on how to reverse the impacts of this systemic discrimination. Or on who the real beneficiaries have always been — the political leadership. east of the country. A few weeks ago, DRC soldiers allegedly crossed into Rwanda and were killed, and there was a bit of sabre rattling between the two countries. But while they fight and quarrel about everything else, there is one thing they have total agreement on — the gorillas. Gorillas are the most expensive things you pay to see not just in East Africa, but also in Africa. Rwanda charges $750 a pop, Uganda asks tourists to pay $600 for a peek, and DRC is the least pricey – it will set you back only $465. Rwanda, Uganda, and DRC have a system by which they share the spoils from gorilla tourism, although Kigali has lately been getting the lion’s share, partly because its side of the mountains generates the most gorilla tourism money. So, we must call this in favour of the gorillas. They are the most integrationist animals. The Single Customs Territory (SCT) that has now been delayed is no different from how the gorilla revenue sharing scheme works. Some free advice to our bureaucrats; if you want to figure out how SCT can work, take a trip up the Virunga Mountains. Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo is the edito≥ of Mail & Gua≥dian Af≥ica (mgaf≥ica.com). Twitte≥:cobbo3 When people are made afraid, they react, but not sensibly.” L. Muthoni Wanyeki In relation to CORD’s calls for na- tional dialogue, the propaganda’s purpose has been to portray it as seeking nothing short of a civilian coup. Is that what CORD is doing? Does the Jubilant leadership believe its own propaganda? Or is it simply, through this propaganda — enthusiastically upheld by its supposed intellectuals — creating a buffer of support among its supporters? By whipping those supporters into a frenzy of fear? By creating group-think in a manner that will, ultimately, ensure its predictions become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When people are afraid, they react, but not sensibly. The country is unstable. It is so not because CORD is calling for national dialogue and holding rallies. It is so because the messaging from the Jubilant leadership — for a whole year — has been so over-the-top and way-outthere. It has to stop. At the community level, the costs are simply too high. L. Muthoni Wanyeki is Amnesty Inte≥national’s ≥egional di≥ecto≥ fo≥ East Af≥ica. This column is w≥itten in he≥ pe≥sonal capacity.
June 30th 2014
July 14th 2014