Governance and Development of the East African Community : The Ethical Sustainability Framework

Abstract: The pursuit of sustainability of governance and development has become a major challenge in contemporary times because of increasing realization that: various ecological and social systems are interconnected; and the complexity of our natural and constructed environs requires holistic approaches to avoid catastrophic fissures in the systems on which humans depend. As regional governments such as the East African Community (EAC) become important in Africa (and other regions), they present opportunities to generate cross-national approaches to achieving sustainability albeit success in that direction is limited and sporadic. In order to mitigate the underlying causes of that situation, we need to reconceptualize and reconstruct sustainability thinking and policy. From an applied ethics perspective, the study set out to explicate the value of and constructively generate a more viable conceptualization of sustainability in relation to the EAC. The study used qualitative methodology; designed as an atypical regionalization case-study and an analytical-constructive research; compatible research tools were employed in interrogating and analyzing secondary sources relating to member states of the EAC and the research was executed between 2011 and 2014.The research found a divergence between the two main conceptual approaches to sustainability in Africa, namely, the ‘Market inspired sustainability’ (MIS) logic and the ‘Traditional African sustainability’ (TAS) logic. The study also uncovered colonial Social Darwinism as a major underlying governance philosophy that motivated the EAC’s former colonial rulers; which became a key ingredient in the application of a colonial-functionalist approach to the region’s earlier integration project (EAC-1).This was traced as a major premise on which the unsustainabilities within the contemporary regionalization project (EAC-2) were crafted. The research also found some acceptable levels of competence in regional governance within the individual EAC member countries in terms of: i) hierarchical, ii) network, and iii) market styles of metagovernance. However, closer analysis revealed: i) an inverse relationship between transfer of capabilities from colonizers to natives (TCCN) and the sustainability of postindependence states (SPIS); and ii)a directly proportional relationship between colonial governance style (CGS) and the economic performance of post-colonial (EPPC) East African countries. It also revealed an ambitious but inadequately grounded drive to expand the EAC project without due attention being given to existing faultlines of possible disintegration such as: perpetuation of colonially-initiated injustices, citizens’ incapacity to partake of the benefits of the integration, and low levels of integrity, among others.The EAC faces a risk of turning into colonial victimization and villainization writ large; which is unsustainable due to the social laws of victim-disaffection (ViD) and villain-encumbrance (ViE). Further analysis showed that these faultlines of disintegration could be exasperated internally by the governance styles and stances taken by the ruling regimes of the core member states: Kenya’s Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP) has to balance between the forces of ethnically inspired devolution and multicultural capitalism; Tanzania’s Chama Cha Mapimduzi (CCM) still has to overcome a socialist single-party hangover and manage the political marriage between the mainland and the island; and Uganda’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) has chosen a governance philosophy of hybrid Marxism. From a justice point of view, the study advocates for establishing a Regional Basic Structure (RBS) that uses a ‘one-step original position’ as a mitigation measure. The RBS should befounded on universal egalitarianism so as to minimize misrepresentation and diminish the political elitist culture of betrayal of the electorate at all levels of representative leadership.In a reconstructive fashion, the research amplified the classical philosophical position that ethical values within society (the ethical fabric) provide the foundation on which other dimensions of sustainability are built. On the basis of that premise, the study generated and proposes the Comprehensive Ethical Sustainability (CES) frameworkas a scheme of axiomized ethical principles designed to be used towards the realization of the sustainability of systems and processes. The CES scheme is a principlistic recasting of selected intuitively valuable dominant approaches to development; designed to be convertible into a comprehensive program of action (or sets of regional policies) towards the attainment of governance and development sustainability in an integrated EAC. The CES framework is fashioned as a reorganized, multi-dimensional cocktail of i) compound, ii) compatible and iii) complimentary principles of: i) Justice, ii) Capabilities, iii) Ubuntu and iv) Integrity, whose application would make the regional bloc sustainable. These principles are considered and proposed as pillars in the: i) theorization of sustainability; and ii) policy formulation, structural arrangements and individual action aimed at sustainability.