Monday, September 19, 2016
EAC member States consoles victims of Kagera earthquake
EXPERTS in diplomacy have described a move by three heads of state of the East African Community (EAC) to give relief aid to victims of Kagera earthquake as signal towards more cooperation and brilliant future in the bloc. Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Paul Kagame of Rwanda handed over their contributions to President John Magufuli on Saturday. Mr Museveni contributed a total of 200,000 US dollars (437m/-) and Mr Kenyatta provided a relief items including roofing sheets, blankets and mattresses worth 115m/-. The tremor, which occurred on September 10 and measuring at a magnitude of 5.7 on the Richter scale, killed 17 and left 440 others injured. The quake also destroyed 2,063 houses while 14,081 others were damaged. In separate interviews with the local media on Sunday last week, the experts on diplomatic issues and a member of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) called for continued such spirit among the members of the EAC of helping each other during hard times. They argued that the situation showed the real meaning of the Community. A Lecturer at the Centre for Foreign Relations (CFR), Dr Kitojo Wetengere, noted that being in the community means that the members need to support each other economically and socially. “When one member country faces trouble, others should provide help.
For these presidents to support Tanzania, it means that we are together during good and hard times. They have proved that our pain is theirs,” Dr Wetengere remarked. He said it was healthy for the EAC because by doing so; the three presidents have underscored more collaboration and unity among member states. “They have given us the real meaning and sense of the community. It’s my first time to hear this happening and I hope that such gestures would continue,” he said. Another expert in diplomacy at the CFR, Dr Bernard Achiula, remarked that what the three EA heads of state have done was crucial for the brighter future of the EAC. Dr Achiula even went far arguing that the relief aid from the three presidents could also explain how Dr Magufuli, as the new chairman of the EAC, has been able to win support from other member states and manage to unite them within a short period after he took over the chair. He further said that Tanzania has been in the frontline in helping other countries during times of trouble and, therefore, such a gesture has proved to other countries in the Community that a friend in need is a friend indeed. “I think helping each other in the Community before asking for support from western countries shows how the EAC is now matured,” he noted. A Member of the EALA, Mr Makongoro Nyerere, said the presidents’ move underlined the solidarity among member states. “Their response was unique since they made a quick response after seeing that their fellow EAC member has got problems,” he added. He proposed that the EAC should in future need to have a law that would guide them in collaboratively respond to disasters. He said the law would improve the current low capacity among the EA countries in responding and managing the disasters, which have caused deaths, injuries and loss of properties in the region.