The East African Community Secretary General (SG), Ambassador Liberat Mfumukeko has won praises from the East African Community Heads of State for implementing radical reforms that have resulted in a major reduction in travel expenditure in the Organization.
Despite commendations by the Heads of State, donors and other stakeholders, he has ironically received a lot of criticism from technocrats who do not see anything positive about what he is doing.
Mfumukeko’s appointment in March last year came a surprise to due to several reasons. One, he was already an EAC staff and such a transition was unprecedented. Two, he was a Burundian and there were a number of people who did not and still do not believe nor appreciate that Burundi could produce an competent candidate for the Secretary General position. This perception has to a very large extent complicated his reform agenda because most people are still biased against him terming him as “incompetent”.
Despite this challenge Mfumukeko has since his appointment been very focused on cleaning up the organization especially the Secretariat and redeeming the image of East African Community that had come to be known as a traveling organization. To achieve this he developed reforms aimed at reducing travel and streamlining and sealing off loopholes procurement processes. These two areas are hot wires that the previous SGs have not dared touch. He has managed to implement these reforms, which have evidently registered remarkable successes.
The Heads of State and donors have time and again praised and commended Mfumukeko for his outstanding work. However, in the midst of all this he has created many enemies across the board, most of who have been affected by the reforms being implemented. These enemies include some of his deputies who used to spend a lot of time traveling and would time and again seek to influence procurement processes for their personal gains and interests. These persons have now resorted to sabotaging his activities and have launched a hate campaign against him.
Lately, the hate campaign has been so intense, leveling countless accusations and allegations against him aimed at discrediting him and portraying him as an ineffective leader. The Permanent Secretaries from the Ministries of East African Community Affairs went as far as carrying out an investigation to substantiate the authenticity of these accusations and allegations. Many have termed this move by the Permanent Secretaries as malicious and as a political exercise meant to settle scores and punish Burundi as a country and as such the Secretary General, Mfumukeko. This is explained by the fact that the report of the investigation was leaked out and circulated to the media, donors, EAC staff and other stakeholders before being submitted to the Council of Ministers and the Heads of State Summit. This has resulted in very negative publicity about East African Community.
The truth that should be told is that the East African Community has not lost its reserve funds as alleged. No money has been embezzled or lost from the East African Community coffers nor has there been any illegal transactions with ECO Bank in Burundi as alleged. This has been confirmed and evidence on the same has been presented. The East African Community is very transparent in it operations. It has also established systems that are there to enhance efficiency and ensure accountability.
The Community has a statutory body called the Audit Commission, which audits the East African Community accounts every year and presents its reports to the East African Legislative Assembly, the oversight body of the Community. This Commission is made up of Auditor Generals from the all the Partner States. If any money had been lost or there had been illegal transactions as alleged, this Commission would have raised a “red-flag”.
It is now time for the East African Community to shift focus from all this negativities and direct efforts on the real issues facing East Africa and the integration agenda. All East African Countries should also be respected as sovereign states and should be respected despite their financial capacity if the dream on integrating is to be achieved.