Tanzania wary of free movement of people, labour By FRANCIS AYIEKO THE EAST AFRICAN August 23 2008 at 16:49 The issue of free movement of persons and labour remained thorny even as representative of member states of the East Africa Community gathered in Nairobi for the second round of negotiations on the protocol for a common market for the community. Apparently, the draft protocol has been modelled around the common market protocol for the Economic Community of West African States and the Caribbean Community and Common Market the two economic groups that allow citizens of member states to travel freely within the regional blocs. On paper, all the five EAC countries Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi say they are committed to the free movement of persons in the community. However, during deliberations at the Nairobi meeting, it was apparent that getting the countries to agree on the free movement of persons is not going to be easy. Already, there are signs that Tanzania is not comfortable with several aspects of the protocol. According to a position paper presented by the Tanzanian delegation, the country recommended that a provision be incorporated to specify when such freedoms can be enjoyed, denied or withdrawn including possession of a valid travel document, entry through an official entry point and proof of sufficient means of support in the case of tourism or self-employment. It further recommended that the freedom should only be exercised under lawful purpose in the form of taking up employment, self-employment or tourism. Yet Article 7, which Tanzania wants amended, outlines cases under which the right cannot be enjoyed as well as how to impose limitations to the enjoyment of such rights. According to the draft Common Market protocol, partner states are required to guarantee the right to free movement of persons, who are citizens of member states within the Community, by abolishing any discrimination based on nationality. This means that a Kenyan, for instance, will have the right to enter Tanzania or any other member country, without a visa. He or she will also be allowed, legally, to move freely and stay in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda or Burundi. Furthermore, the person will have the right to exit from a member state without restrictions. The person will enjoy full protection by the laws of the host partner state. Tanzanias comments were based on the report of the inaugural high level task force meeting in April in Kigali, Rwanda. Tanzania was not represented at the Kigali meeting. At the Nairobi meeting, Tanzania disagreed with a number of other key issues resolved in April, forcing the delegates to refer them for further discussions in the specialised committee. The other issues deferred for further discussion by the specialised committee were the free movement of goods, free movement of workers/labour, right of residence and right of establishment, all of which are the main pillars of a Common Market. Instead, the delegates only agreed with Tanzania on relatively mundane issues such as a need to ensure that the commitments made by the partner states under the Customs Union, especially the elimination of all non-tariff barriers to trade are fully implemented to lay a firm foundation for the Common Market and non-issues such as restructuring the preamble of the proposed Protocol on the EAC Common Market to reflect economic growth and development as the main pillar of the Common Market in addition to free movement of persons, labour, services, capital and right of establishment. Tanzania also appears to be non-committal on other issues. For instance, in the recommendations they presented to the delegates last week, Dar proposes the inclusion, in the draft protocol, of clauses that will allow the adoption of a general programme for the abolition of existing restrictions on the free movement of labour/workers within the Community. The programme, Tanzania argues, shall set out the general conditions under which free movement of labour/workers is to be attained. According to analysts, such generalisations do not bode well for negotiations on sensitive issues like free movement of labour. Tanzanias hardline position on key issues to be considered under the Common Market protocol are a reflection of the sensitivities and fears that have emerged over the past few years in the region. They also reflect the mindset of some of the partner states. In Tanzania, for instance, there is a perception that free movement of people and labour under the Common Market will mean that Kenyans will just walk into Tanzania, grab all the land and start agricultural production. There is also the view that Kenya and Uganda have had vibrant education systems over the years, and therefore have advantage over the other partner states. Tanzania particularly feesl that Kenyans would take over all the high paying jobs once the free movement is introduced. Such fears need to be addressed, said Dr Juma Mwapachu, the EAC secretary-general way back in June. The secretariat finds itself in a rather difficult position because these sensitivities are anchored at national levels. The leadership at the national level should play a critical role in allaying these fears and concerns, which are just psychological, says Dr Mwapachu. Under the Common Market, the second stage in the EAC integration process, there will also be the right of residence and establishment across the five member states of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. The Customs Union, the first stage in the integration process which came into force in January 2005, has seen the removal of internal tariffs and all non-tariff barriers on intra-EAC trade, introduction of a common external tariff regime and agreement on a list of products classified as sensitive and therefore requiring additional protection. The Common Market, which is a higher stage of the Customs Union, is considered of paramount interest and strategic significance since it is supposed to lay the basis for people-centered political federation envisaged in the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. The negotiations are being conducted on the basis of a draft Model Common Market Protocol which highlights the cardinal requirements of the EAC Common Market that is intended to accelerate economic growth and development of the regional bloc, serving 120 million people with a combined GPD of $50 billion. Launched in Kigali, Rwanda in April, the negotiations are expected to deliver a Common Market protocol by December this year, paving the way for the establishment of an East African Community Common Market by January next year. Under the provisions for the right of establishment, the EAC countries seek to establish the right for an EAC citizen to install oneself, either as an individual, firm or company in a host state, for purposes of performing activities of an economic nature , albeit within certain conditions or limitations as will be agreed. The self-employed or those engaged in any non-wage-earning activities of commercial, industrial, agricultural, professional or artisanal nature, all stand to benefit.