The East African military expenditure (milex) has been on the rise in the recent past according to the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and recently Kenya and Tanzania announced their intention to increase military spending citing terrorism. What is however worrying is the fact that despite such increases in milex, the East Africa region has been among the restive regions in the African continent with cases of instability and insecurity on the rise bringing into question whether such increases in milex translate to safety and security for all East African citizens.
Globally Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have been marking the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) in the month of April since 2011 calling on the world governments to reduce military spending and support other critical areas like public service delivery. GDAMS initiative was co-founded in 2011 by the International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and is now being coordinated by the Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS) which a global campaign whose main objective is to ask the world governments to reduce their military expenditures.
Closer home, in Kenya, activists under the banner of the Coalition for Constitution Implementation (CCI), Bunge la Mwananchi (BLM), La Vie Foundation, Hapa Extension Providers (HEP), the Unga Revolution, the Nubian Human Rights Forum (NHRF) and the Super Ethnic Minority Rights Forum (SEMRF) have been marking the day since 2011 calling on the Kenyan government to reduce milex.
On 13 April 2015, the groups under the banner of GCOMS-Kenya marked the day by releasing a detailed report on the Kenyan milex in comparison with select East African countries and African countries. Members also planted trees at Freedom Corner Nairobi in memory of the victims of Garissa University attack.
In 2013/2014 Kenya allocated a whooping KShs74.4bn on military issues which was far more than the spending in other critical sectors like Agriculture which received KShs38.1bn, Environment, Water, Irrigation and Housing which received KShs55.4bn, Preventive and Curative Health Services which received KShs34.7bn and Social Protection, Culture and Recreational that received KShs57.2bn. In 2012/2013, Kenya allocated the military sector close to KSh70 billion compared to other sectors like irrigation that was allocated a paltry KSh8 billion, Welfare of orphans, which was allocate KSh4.4 billion and KSh1.1 billion to the elderly persons of the society. Youth Development Fund and Women Development Fund were allocated KSh550 million and KSh450 million respectively.
At the East African level, in 2012, Kenya was ranked top in East Africa in terms of military expenditure importing more weapons than other peers in the East African region over the same period. According SIPRI, the total expenditure of Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi combined still fell below the Kenyan total expenditure in 2012 while in 2013 Kenya’s spending dwarfed the spending of other East African Countries. Table 1 shows the East Africa Countries Comparative Military Expenditure for the period beginning 2009 – 2013 ($USD Million).
Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)
This therefore means that between 2009 and 2013, the East Africa region has spent a whooping USD7556.7mn on issues related to military yet issues of safety and security of people at the grassroots are still arising. Yet in East Africa, military budgets are often “classified” meaning that they are considered state security secret locking out scrutiny from the lawmakers, members of public and CSOs. This classification of milex has paved way for corruption networks who embezzle the money at the expense of the intended use.
For example in Uganda in 2013/2014 lawmakers raised a red flag of possible corruption as the portion of milex under the “classified expenditure” almost tripled compared to the previous years. While appearing before house Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Ugandan Chief of Defense Forces, Gen Katumba Wamala, failed to explain to the PAC how almost a third of the country’s expenditure that was hidden under the classified expenditure were spent citing laws that do not allow lawmakers to discuss classified expenditure due to state security.
The situation is the same in Kenya as the parliament is not allowed to view some military expenditure due to national security. For example immediately after the Westgate at attack, top military officers could not divulge details of the operation due to national security. CSOs are also not allowed to discuss military expenditure again due to state security.
Zinduka is a Kiswahili word which literary translates to a re-awakening of Consciousness. Zinduka East African Festival is a catalyst that compliments other ongoing as well as future efforts by state and non-state actors to build a sustainable East African Community by making it a people-driven-process as opposed to a political process.
As we head towards Zinduka Festival 2015, the GCOMS Kenya calls for an increased voice of the East African CSOs under the banner of Zinduka on matter of East African milex. Zinduka can help in mobilizing and mainstreaming the voices of East African CSOs, media, academia and private sector so that they can be more vocal on matters relating to military expenditure, they can mobilize public participation by organizing community forums to discuss military spending, they can push for more allocations on issues of climate change, public service delivery, peace processes and post 2015 development agenda, monitor use of resources allocated on issues relating to military call for declassification of milex so as to allow for public scrutiny as there are issues of accountability regarding milex.
Zinduka can also help mobilize CSOs in the region to:
- Ask the East African governments to declassify military spending so as to allow the public and CSOs to interrogate military expenditure.
- Ask East African Anticorruption agencies to investigate milex in the East Africa region to ascertain whether such allocations are prudently used or they end up in people’s pockets
- Ask East African Governments to be more vocal at the regional and Global Arena in pushing for regional and world powers and states to move the money from military and invest more in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, public service delivery, post 2015 development agenda, and peace processes which are more popular with the masses.
GCOMS has been calling on the world governments to “Move the Money” from Military to other critical areas that are key to humanity survival. The IPB has proposed alternative areas where the money can be moved to as:
- Peace: with a focus on disarmament, conflict prevention and resolution, human security;
- Sustainable development and anti-poverty programmes;
- Climate change and biodiversity loss focusing on climate change mitigation and adaptation;
- Social justice/welfare focusing on strengthening human rights, gender equality and green job-creation.
Could we have East African Military Spending as one of the thematic areas during Zinduka 2015?
 Global Day of Action on Military Spending, GDAMS. Available from:<http://demilitarize.org/global-day-action-military-spending/>. [11 April 2015]
 International Peace Bureau, About IPB. Available from:<http://www.ipb.org/web/index.php?mostra=content&menu=about%20ipb&submenu=History>. [11 April 2015].
 Institute for Policy Studies, About ISP. Available from:<http://www.ips-dc.org/about/ >. [11 April 2015]
 Global Campaign on Military Spending, About GCOMS. Available from:<http://demilitarize.org/global-campaign-on-military-spending/>. [11 April 2015]
 Global Campaign on Military Spending, Events, Reports and Photos 2015 – Africa. Available from:<http://demilitarize.org/event-reports-and-photos-2015-africa/>. [2 May 2015].
 ADILI, The National Budget in 2013/2014 at a glance. Available from:<http://www.tikenya.org/phocadownload/userupload/adili%20newsletter%20issue%20142.pdf>. [2 May 2015]
 Global Campaign on Military Spending, What we do. Available from:<http://demilitarize.org/global-campaign-on-military-spending/outreach/>. [29 April 2015]