Nearly four years after Kenya's first multiparty elections since the 1960s, World Statesman talks to veteran leader Daniel arap Moi about the prospects for regional integration

Do you support the restoration of the East African Community with Uganda and Tanzania?

Yes. I believe that the destinies of our three countries are strong and closely linked. We share a common history, a common culture and indeed our aspirations are in common. We, the people of East Africa, are one. The East African people have been looking forward to an opportunity to be as they were before the collapse of the first EAC. In particular, our people want to be able to move freely across national borders.

Furthermore, the emergence of global trading blocs (the European Union, NAFTA and ASEAN, for example) has compelled us to re-examine the issue of regional integration as a means towards creating a larger market and a stronger negotiating basis for the prosperity of our region.

The original EAC was short-lived. Do you believe that the East African political and economic environment this time round gives the 'second' EAC a greater chance of success?

Yes. The present EAC charter emphasises the role of the private sector in its operations and discourages major government involvement, thereby reducing the likelihood of adverse political interference. The decision-making mechanism has been simplified and vested in a committee of ministers rather than involving the three Presidents.

Past lessons have been learnt, and the ideological differences which contributed to the collapse of the first EAC do not exist today. There is now a real political commitment to avoid past mistakes and to create the modalities required to realise the aspirations of our people.

What would be the economic benefits to Kenya of a re-established EAC?

We in Kenya have recently undertaken far-reaching economic reforms. The combined population and resources of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania offer a more attractive environment for trade, investment, employment and faster economic growth. Moreover, sharing of information will lead to improved regional security, weather forecasting, research, disease control and environmental protection.

If all the above are realised, I would expect closer political ties in the future - possibly a Federation of our three states.

Kenya has had a sometimes difficult relationship with foreign donors. How do you assess current relations?

Kenya is currently enjoying excellent relations with its donors. The growth in donor confidence is evidenced by their agreement in April this year at the IMF Board in Paris to proceed with the IMF Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility and related funding. The subsequent three-day official visit by Michael Camdessus, the IMF managing-director, further attests to the confidence of the Bretton Woods organisations in Kenya's commitment to economic reform.

How much of a threat does opposition politician Richard Leakey pose to your party, KANU?

Minimal if any. One area of threat is racialism. He seems to have the support of the international media. Racial biases brought into play by the international media could in some ways adversely affect our economy. Richard Leakey is a 'paper tiger' creation of the media and does not have much local support, even from fellow whites. He is being used by other members of the opposition only as a fund-raiser for their cause.

Ethnic violence has been an issue in the Rift Valley. Do you see a resolution to this problem in the near future?

Ethnic violence in Rift Valley was ignited by opposition politicians in an effort to destabilise the strong support enjoyed by KANU there before the 1992 elections. The clashes were also used by the opposition to create a case of human rights violations by the KANU government and thereby quickly raise funds internationally for their own ends. Since the last general elections, the problem has fizzled out and the euphoria which characterised the political climate in the run-up to those elections no longer exists. The issue of ethnic violence is unlikely to recur as people are now more aware of those dirty opposition election tactics.

Finally, where do you see Kenya at the turn of the century?

I see Kenya as a bustling and vibrant economy taking its rightful place amongst the newly industrialised countries. Indeed, the current economic reforms have put Kenya on a brighter - and irreversible - path to sustainable growth that has already led to single-digit inflation rates and significant growth (set for 8-10 per cent with GDP per capita at US$1,100). Most of this is generated by the manufacturing and industrial sectors. By the turn of the century, the economy should be able to rely more and more on an efficient private sector that is producing quality goods for the local and international markets, with a reduced dependence on foreign aid.

To TopTo Archive IndexTo Contents
©Kensington Publications 1996