PRESIDENT Benjamin Mkapa (Rtd) is , with former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, engaged in a very delicate diplomatic process in next door Kenya which faces another closely contested General election in 46 days, counting from January 19th, 2013.
The world, as the saying goes, is a global village, and today, unlike in the post-independence period, no single nation, not even the well developed 1st World can afford to live on its own ignoring or disengaging with events in its neighbourhood or, elsewhere in its further afield.
A close examination of the facts show that we are in one way or another, stakeholders in events even as they happen in places where we may have little or no direct control. This explains why America is concerned with Syria and Somalia, just as the African Union is indeed concerned about the goings on in Mali and the Central African Republic.
Indeed Amb. Augustine Mahiga, a Tanzania diplomat with extensive experience, is leading the United Nations efforts, as Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, to steer Somalia out of trouble that has kept the Horn of African nation, out of the community of nations since 1991.
It is not an easy task seeing as there are dissident warring groups, some whose stock in trade include lobbing hand grenades and negotiating with bomb-laden pickups (techniques) pointing at negotiators.
Yet, it is a task that has to be undertaken because quick thinking will tell you that insecurity in Somalia explains why, Tanzania is faced with so many illegal immigrants from Somali, Ethiopia and Eritrea who are running towards the Southern Africa region, hoping for a better life.
Amb. Mahiga, with the blessing of President Kikwete and SG Ban Ki- moon is putting his life on the line for the benefit not just of Somalia, but of Tanzania and the EAC as well as the World. Now turn to Kenya, the seemingly sick man of East Africa and the temptation is to agree with fellow columnist Mboneko Munyaga.
Writing in these pages last weekend, Mr Munyaga said if Kenya lapsed into violence after its March 4th General Elections, it should be expelled from the East African Community because "what use would Kenya be to the Community if it cannot guarantee the right to settlement and establishment anywhere under the Common Market Protocol?".
These, to my mind are the very reasons that the world finds it fit to organize under the United Nations, African Union and the East African Community of Nations among other common interest Organizations. Expulsion of Kenya from the EAC is the easy said seeing as the treaty which brought together the 5 member countries did not envisage and provide for it.
If anything, a relapse of Kenya into violence should strengthen the resolve of EAC to strengthen the treaty to provide for the EAC to be the mother hen that resolves conflict not just between states but also intervenes where it seems obvious that internal dynamics are in need of partners engagement & intercession for the greater good of the region.
It is in this context that one can understand why President Jakaya Kikwete has numerously held court with delegations of Kenya's Presidential candidates including Uhuru Kenyatta, William Rutto and Raila Odinga, the latter who spent the new year Holidays in Tanzania.
The parties may all have been keen on support but I am more certain Tanzania is repeating the same message to each delegation, that it is able to work with any of them as long as they get the peaceful mandate of the people of Kenya.
It also explains the efforts that The African Union Eminent Group of Persons led by Amb. Kofi Annan, and including Tanzanian former President Benjamin William Mkapa & Graca Machel are actively engaged in the political process to ensure the International community plays its part in ensuring Kenya holds peaceful and trouble free elections, an engagement which part of the Kenyan political establishment is seeing as external interference.
Here is what President Mkapa said at a Press Conference on Citizen TV last month: "We are not interested in interfering with internal affairs of Kenya. We come as friends and as Africans interested in our brother's welfare. When we do, we meet with civil society groups, lawyers, the clergy, Government officials and the political parties.
After these engagements we arrange for round table meetings where we express our opinions on whether the process is proceeding as best as could be expected". Of all the things Tanzania can bequeath on the rest of East Africa none would be as crucial as how to develop a cohesive nation that speaks one language -- Kiswahili and two, organizes political parties on the basis of agenda and policy and conducts party nomination primaries in which the losers support the winners.
On Monday 14th January former President Rupiah Banda of Zambia shared with Kenyans how he conceded after losing by just 180,000 votes yet he was the incumbent and could have held on and demanded a recount.
These shared lessons are useful for a country on the political brink like Kenya but more importantly, lessons are being learnt about how it is in the interest of Africans to ensure peace prevails on our continent.
The recent trends of invasion of police stations by members of the Public in Tanzania, the escape of 2000 Zanzibaris to Shimoni in Kenya after the 2000 elections, the murder of a journalist in Iringa and the on-going Uamsho religious conflicts that has led to loss of lives and burning of churches have not made Tanzania a pariah nation in the EAC.
These may seem smaller compared to political violence in Kenya, but the trend of Mtwara residents calling for 'our gas' and Uamso 'Our Zanzibar' all are hallmarks of what triggers violence that needs to be addressed just as the border dispute with Malawi both internally and at the regional clearing house that is EAC.
There is more to be gained, if we resolve these issues as a community than if we resort to expulsion and banning and internal sanctions. For Comments utafitinews@yahoo. com Twitter @motowntz