Thursday, 25 April 2013

Museveni rallies for unified Africa


President Kagame receives President Museveni following East African Legislative Assembly yesterday. The New Times / Village Urugwiro
Africans can work together to improve their political and economic clout through deep political integration and common markets, President Yoweri Museveni said yesterday.
The Ugandan leader was addressing a special sitting of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) in Kigali, in capacity as Chairperson of the East African Community (EAC) Summit.
In his State of the EAC Address, Museveni pointed out that lack of strong political organisation in Africa, corruption, and poor infrastructure have kept Africans divided, poor, and vulnerable to colonisation and other foreign attacks.
When Africa was still under European colonisation, he said, Asian countries like Japan and China were successfully resisting western occupation, but it took long for Africa to free itself from colonisation because it lacked deep political integration.
“Now that the continent has survived colonisation and is considered independent, Africans can deal with the remaining issues of poverty and conflicts by working together through integrated political entities and markets on their own land,”he said.
He dismissed some people’s beliefs, especially those who are custodians of the colonisation of Africa, that the continent is too divided to work together.
President Museveni told an audience of lawmakers, regional dignitaries and diplomats that it is time for Africans to unite for their strength and stop being helpless people who always seek support from international groups like the United Nations to keep their security or feed them.
“If you keep yourself weak, you do so at your own is not a good idea to conserve weakness,” President Museveni said with a sense of humour.
EAC should be exemplary
President Museveni said that East Africans cannot develop unless they end a culture of corruption, work together as a political federation and build larger markets for regional businesses.
The President commended the EAC for doing a better job in matters of integration, noting that “without a big market, private business cannot develop”.
But he pointed out that a lot of bottlenecks remain in the process of unlocking the full potential of the bloc’s integration with poor energy infrastructure topping the list.
“There are a number of strategic bottlenecks which are hampering development in the region.  However, two main issues are with regards to the existence of small markets and inadequate infrastructure, especially the energy issue,” President Museveni said.
He pledged to prioritise infrastructure development projects such as regional railway networks and electricity projects during his tenure as the Chairperson of the EAC Summit.
The EALA plenary, which has been taking place in Kigali since April 12, will wrap up its business tomorrow.
The session held deliberations on regional trade policies such as the EAC Vehicle Control Bill and the One-Stop Border Posts Bill.
The Vehicle Control Bill would allow all partner states to have a harmonised load limit and modern weighbridge stations to protect roads and reduce the cost of transport in the region.
The One-Stop-Border Post Bill, which EALA MPs passed during this weekwill become an East African Community (EAC) Law if assented to by the five EAC Heads of State. It aims at providing the legal framework for the operation of border posts of partner states under one roof with a view to making them more efficient for Customs and Immigration checks.
The EALA members called for the swift implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol, with Speaker Dr Margaret Nantongo Zziwa urging member states to urgently revise their domestic laws to conform to the Protocol.
“We are yet to see real dynamism on the part of the partner states to facilitate the implementation of the protocol but we remain hopeful that they will act,” she said at the special sitting yesterday.
The Common Market Protocol was signed three years ago by the EAC Heads of State and calls for  free movement of persons, labour, goods and services among others.


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