Your Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta,
Your Excellency President Mwai Kibaki,
Your Excellency President Daniel Arap Moi,
Your Excellencies, the Heads of State and government,
Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen.
On behalf of the people of Uganda, the people of East Africa, the COMESA Regional trade group and the ICGLR, I congratulate President Uhuru Kenyatta, Vice President William Ruto, the Jubilee Coalition and all the people of Kenya, on their victory in the Match 4, 2013 presidential and general elections. The people of Uganda congratulate you all, especially for holding peaceful elections.
Allow me also to thank the Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, together with the other Presidential Candidates who participated in this election, although they did not win, in the end. In reality, however, they too won because they enriched the process by offering clear options out of which the 14 million voters in Kenya could choose from. In particular, I would like to salute, Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga and Vice president Kalonzo Musyoka for the statesman-like manner in which they handled the election outcome. They took their grievances to court and accepted the verdict although this was not favourable to them.
I must also congratulate the Jubilee Coalition for being magnanimous and not provocative as they celebrated their victory. This is democracy – Democracy by completion. We also must salute the Kenyan Media for exhibiting a high standard of professional integrity and maturity throughout the exercise. This maturity exhibited by different actors in this Kenyan electoral process, is a source of pride for all the Africans. I congratulate all of you!
President Uhuru Kenyatta, the people of Kenya have given you the mantle of leadership at a time when great opportunities exist for the East African Region. There is total peace and harmony in the entire Region and, as you know, that was not always so. By concerted actions and sacrifice, we are together forcing all chauvinistic and wrong ideologies to retreat from our Region, especially in Somalia. This will mean full peace and focus on programmes that ensure real prosperity for East Africans, the people of Somalia and the people of South Sudan.
Our Region has also discovered substantial quantities of oil and natural gas. All the member countries of the EAC have varying levels and amounts of deposits of these natural resources. Uganda, in particular, discovered oil in 2006, but has not been able to start the extraction process owing to a battle our country has had with oil companies. Some of them had the usual stereotype impression about Africa, of being unable to understand our needs and let alone develop our resources in a correct manner. We rejected those schemes and are now about to conclude an oil and gas extraction plan that will be equitable to Uganda and the oil companies. Time has come, therefore, for our Region to coordinate policies that will optimize the use of our natural resources and make efficient use of their exploitation for the transformation of our communities.
As you all know, African nations have been struggling, begging and borrowing from external sources, to develop infrastructure that allows them a steady path to industrialization. On account of this coordinated effort and unity of purpose, we will meaningfully exploit our resources which God has given us, add value to them and fully grow our economies to maturity and begin an irreversible break from poverty. This will be the true independence that African nations fought for.
East Africa is not about oil alone. It is also about first and foremost, trade and the exchange of goods and services – utilizing the integrated market of East Africa. These newly discovered natural resources, therefore, are only catalysts to enable us move quickly and develop other sectors; sectors that are more durable and sustainable than minerals including oil and gas.
Among the areas that must be aggressively developed is the trade within and outside the Region for Africa; so that the oil and gas found does not divert us, important as it may be. Our inexhaustible source of wealth is in agriculture, industry, services and the human resource that consumes what is produced and in turn produces items of trade. We need to improve the atmosphere for the East African producers (the business people) by completing the economic integration of East Africa. East Africa intra-trade, for example, stands at a paltry of 13% of all total trade volumes. The European Union (EU) and the North American trading blocks on the contrary, stand at 60% and 48% respectively. Removing infrastructural barriers (using our discovered natural resources) and tackling production capacity constraints (skilling our labour force), therefore, will enhance productivity at household and enterprise levels, end poverty and make Africa much stronger. We should also remove completely the phenomenon of non-tariff barriers such as numerous weigh bridges, police road blocks, delays at border crossings, etc.
in the scriptures, there is the Lord’s Prayer, which teaches us: “thou shall not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil”. By remaining weak and fragmented, Africa tempts the greedy to try and dominate her. Africa has a duty to stop tempting others. Africa must integrate and strengthen herself. An integrated market makes it easier for companies to make a profit because they have more buyers.
This is my own opinion now. Before I was speaking on behalf of the people of East Africa, the COMESA regional trade group and ICGLR…this is my opinion. Furthermore, I want to salute the Kenyan voters on one other issue – the rejection of the blackmail by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and those who seek to abuse this institution for their own agenda. I was one of those that supported the ICC because I abhor impunity. However, the usual opinionated and arrogant actors using their careless analysis have distorted the purpose of that institution. They are now using it to install leaders of their choice in Africa and eliminate the ones they do not like. What happened here in 2007 was regrettable and must be condemned. A legalistic process, especially an external one, however, cannot address those events. Events of this nature first and most importantly, need an ideological solution by discerning why they happened. Why did inter community violence occur? Was it for genuine or false reasons? Even if you assume they were genuine reasons as a hypothetical argument, why should villagers attack one another? Would the villagers have been responsible for whatever mistakes that would have occurred? Instead of a thorough and thoughtful process, we have individuals engaged in legal gymnastics!
In Uganda’s case, between 1966 and 1986, we lost about 800,000 persons killed by the leaders who were in charge of the country. How did we handle that sad history? Have you ever heard us asking ICC or the UN to come and help us deal with that sad chapter of our history? We only referred Joseph Kony of LRA to ICC because he was operating outside Uganda. Otherwise, we would have handled him ourselves. Equally, Kenyan actors are the ones best qualified to sit and delve into their history in order to discover the ideological stimuli the Kenyan society needs.
I, therefore, use this opportunity to salute the Kenyan voters again, rejecting that blackmail and upholding the sovereignty of the Kenyan people. The people of Kenya extended hospitality to Ugandans when they had to run out of their country because of criminal rule in Uganda. I thank the people of Kenya and their leaders for this.
Finally, I salute His Excellency Mwai Kibaki with whom I worked so closely and who has served Kenya for the last 50 years in political leadership. He also contributed to the struggle for Uganda’s independence when he was a lecturer and student at Makerere University in the 1950s and 60s. May his retirement be enjoyable.
………………………………………………………………………On a lighter note, a Member of Parliament from West Pokot was given to me as courtesy. The People of West Pokot used to steal my cattle. I urge President Uhuru to stop them from stealing my cattle. (added as he was concluding speech).
Nairobi, Kenya - 9th April, 2013.