East African Community’s Response to Coronavirus: Old Habits Die Hard
The coronavirus response divulged how EAC partner states prioritize national interests over regional ones and exposed widening cracks within the community. After detecting the virus in the region, individual countries deployed varied approaches against the pandemic despite the indication of a joint response from the EAC secretariat. On the outset, the secretariat called for harmonized surveillance and reporting of the pandemic at all border points, control and prevention materials distribution, and joint training of the EAC mobile laboratory experts. Contrarily, each country acted unilaterally by imposing restrictions and border checks. Some concealed Covid-19 cases and issued non-harmonized Covid-19 certificates at regional border points. While the absence of regional solidarity might have been motivated by the need to contain the spread of the virus, lack of collective action was greatly influenced by simmering differences among EAC member countries. Before Covid-19, tensions revolved around Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. No wonder the region’s responses to the pandemic laid bare the simmering disagreement within the community. This paper employs discourse analysis to examine how Covid-19 revealed cracks in the community reminiscent of the one leading to the collapse of EAC I.
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