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PAB on EAC: Participation, please. The Policy Advisory Board chairmen reflect on civil society's role in making the EAC a community for all.
Joining hands in democratization
By Dominic Walubengo
Having lived and worked in all 3 East African countries I am optimistic about the East African Community (EAC). However, I am concerned that we leave all the benefits of the regional integration to the politicians and the business people.
Civil society is ahead of the East African governments as regards to cooperation. We already have many links across the borders on e.g. trade and natural resources. But to utilize the potential of the EAC we need to expand and further develop the links that are already there.
The civil society must join hands in democratization and civic education in the region. We must engage in common advocacy activities directed at the EAC policies. And we must play a common role of watchdog in favor of the East African population.
Dominic Walubengo is the director of Forest Action Network (FAN) and a PAB member of MS Kenya
By Josephine Kimaro
The formation of the EAC is essentially a good idea since it aims at uniting the East African people and improving welfare.
A number of very important decisions have already been made in pursuit of political, economical, social and cultural goals. But the process has not been participatory enough.
The majority of citizens are not involved. Most people in the three countries live in rural areas or villages with no access to information. Even in urban areas few people are aware of developments in the EAC.
Now that the political leaders have decided to form an East African federation in 2010 and have a common president by 2013 it is crucial to get consent from the citizens. Only this will make the East Africans feel that they own and are part of the process.
Josephine Kimaro is a member of PAB in MS Tanzania
Any benefits for the citizens?
By Norah Matovu Winyi
The benefits of the EAC to the ordinary East African citizen seem to be evasive. The technocrats need to translate the potential of the integration into tangible benefits.
The EAC has to remain relevant to the day-to-day realities. It is critical that the citizens are involved in the integration through increased access to information on progress made. The information should be tailor-made for the different categories of people.
Social and cultural activities that contribute to the transformation of the prejudices that East Africans have towards each other should be encouraged. There is a need for raising feelings of solidarity and brotherhood and creating a sense of responsibility for a common destiny.
Norah Matovu Winyi is the MS Uganda PAB chairperson