“It has, therefore, been long, ever since the NRM and its pre-cursors, started supporting the struggle for the realization of the dream of the East African Federation. If we had achieved that by 1963 as the elders had intended, this part of the World would be very far. Some of the political elite, let down Africa in 1963 by frustrating the effort. If the Federation had been launched in 1963, you can be sure that Idi Amin would never have taken power in Uganda, there would have been no genocide in Rwanda or the killings in Burundi, Congo would have stabilized long ago, the problems of South Sudan, would have been solved much earlier and the problem of Somalia may not have turned out the way it did. Even today, the sort of problems we are facing, would be easily solved” – President Yoweri Tibuhurwa Kaguta Museveni (09.10.2022).
Today on the 9th October 2022, yet again President Museveni held his Independence Day Speech, which he has year after year. These speeches are long and this year was no different. He held a two hour long speech at Kololo Grounds and certainly there was plenty of points or things to look into. However, in this here piece. I am only looking into the stories of the East African Federation.
President Museveni comes with strong claims and reasoning. He blames the ones in 1963 for not pushing through with the East African Federation. Nevertheless, the nations haven’t since then been able to agree or find the stipulations fitting for a federation. Neither has the nations been able to agree on an East African constitution. It has been plenty of stumbling blocks and this is why we are seeing an East African Community (EAC) in 2022.
Just read these insights here!
“It was mainly Uganda’s objection to the surrender of sovereignty, the desire to preserve its fragile internal unity, and the fear of Kenyan control over regional institutions which led to the failure of East African federation. In fact, President Obote had made a statement that the Nairobi declaration did not commit Uganda to federation and that the questions of relationships and powers were still in the ‘exploratory stage’. For the Tanganyikans and Kenyans, regional unity involved ‘the concept of a tightly constructed federation’” (…) “By the end of 1963 the failure of the federation was clear. The last session of the Working Party was held in Kampala in May 1964, but the three Presidents found that the political union they had advocated so wholeheartedly was no longer feasible. It can be argued that national interests developed guickly in East Africa during 1963, as President Nyerere had prophesied:
We shall be increasing the number of human beings who have a personal interest in disunity – and because they are human beings most of them will be more conscious of the advantages of the present situation and the difficulties of change than of the long-term benefits which could come” (John A. Mgaya – ‘REGIONAL INTEGRATION: THE CASE OF THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY’ P: 14-15, August 1986).
“Though the official start of the East African Community’s project lay at the beginning of the new millennium, the roots of the drive for East African unity actually extend much farther back. It began at the signing of the treaty of East African Cooperation in 1967, following the end of the British colonial period. While the treaty was abandoned a mere decade later due to faltering political will and disparate levels of development between the three nations, the idea would remain a powerful one. In fact, it was powerful enough for regional governments to revisit the possibility after the end of the Cold War” (Borgen Magazine – ‘The East African Community’s First Constitution’ 28.03.2020).
“The East African Heads of State signed the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community in Arusha, on 30 November 1999. Prior to re-launching the East African Community in 1999, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda had enjoyed a long history of cooperation under successive regional integration arrangements. These included the Customs Union between Kenya and Uganda in 1917, which the Tanganyika later joined in 1927; the East African High Commission (1948- 1961); the East African Common Services Organisation (1961-1967); the East African Community (1967-1977), and the East African Co-operation (1993-1999)” (UNESCO – ‘RELATIONS WITH THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY (EAC) AND DRAFT COOPERATION AGREEMENT BETWEEN UNESCO AND THAT ORGANIZATION’ 2006).
After reading these it is easy to see why it didn’t happen and Nyerere was prophetic about it. His words has been proven and righteous. Museveni who has had the time and could have pushed further. His never done so or tried that much. Since, he knows he would give way on the sovereignty and the rights of Uganda. We know that Museveni wouldn’t allow or accept being controlled by Nairobi or Dodoma for that matter. This is why Obote was reluctant and wasn’t willing in 1963.
It is interesting that later in the speech today that Museveni further said this about the subject:
“In the 1962 Independence elections, no Party could win by absolute majority because they had fragmented the electorate into sectarian groups that could never attract broad support. Guided by our principle of Pan-Africanism, when we won power, we worked with Mzee Hassan Mwinyi, Mzee Benjamin Mkapa, Mzee Daniel Arap Moi, supported by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who was still alive, to revive the EAC, which was re-inaugurated on the 30th of November, 1999.Guided by the same principles, we stood with the African brothers in South Africa, Namibia, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, etc. It is this principle, that educates us not to aim at building a Latin America in Africa but build a United States of Africa in Africa –to ensure the prosperity of our people and the strategic security of Africa” (Museveni, 09.10.2022).
Here Mgaya reasons differently than Museveni on the matter, especially the reasons around 1962, which he says this: “While people like Tom Mboya supported Nyerere, in Uganda the Kabaka’s government and Obote’s Democratic Party stated that Uganda was not ready for federation. Therefore, soon after Tanganyika’s independence in December 1961 Nyerere stated that federation would now have to wait until all three countries were sovereign” (John A. Mgaya – ‘REGIONAL INTEGRATION: THE CASE OF THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY’ P: 13, August 1986).
Here we see there is nothing about sectarianism or such. It was about the independence and becoming sovereign republic’s themselves. That is all natural that you wouldn’t the same minute your getting independence, become a part of another entity. The new nations would need time to assess and consider their foreign diplomatic ties and trading partners. That is just natural and this is the reason for the downfall of the East African Federation in 1963. As there was internal fears and speculations into the balances of power and losses of sovereignty to others. Parts, which Museveni doesn’t dwell upon. He only speculates of the salvation from the worst damages and suffering, which has happen since. However, he hasn’t spoken about his involvement in these and how he sponsored the violence and military operations in several of the neighbouring countries over the years. That’s why it’s epic that he doesn’t look into his interference there for personal gains.
Last part about 1999 has also been stated in the little documentation I found. That Museveni mentions in the second paragraph of EAC or East African Federation part of his speech. He takes pride in the moment of the 1999. Nevertheless, since then and the ills he mentioned. The EAC should have ensured that his nation didn’t interfere in the Democratic Republic Congo (DRC) or in South Sudan for that matter. Museveni has done this and been vital in it. Therefore, his own military activity across the borders has caused the pain and sufferings, which the EAC couldn’t deal with or had any say in. That’s why it’s really hypocritical of him. He wouldn’t have accepted their interference and totally blocking of it. We just know he wouldn’t have followed it anyway.
That’s why it’s interesting that he says this. We know the war to topple Mobutu and Laurent Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We know how Uganda supported the Rwandan Patriotic Front in the 1990s. There has been speculations for year in the Museveni involvement in the late death of Dr. Joseph Garang. We can also mention the involvement and support of Nkurunziza in Burundi. Therefore, he has interfered and ensured allies in the neighbour nation and done so deliberately. So, when he speaks of the ills of the people and the never ending troubles that needs to be solved. He has partook in the action and should take some blame in it. Since he has invested, used his armies and gained personal power by doing so. I doubt the East African Community or Federation could have stopped him. Within the time frame and the context, the nations involved wasn’t even signed up and would have been out of EAC/EAF. Peace.