Zanzibar President H.E. Dr. Shein opens EALA sitting
East African Legislative Assembly; Zanzibar, Tanzania; 11 October 2016:
The President of Zanzibar and the Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, H.E. Dr Ali Mohammed Shein opened the Second Meeting of the Fifth Session of the Third Assembly with a call to re-double efforts towards strengthening the integration process.
In his remarks, H.E. Dr Ali Mohammed Shein, said the move would ensure the region continues to benefit immensely. He remarked that a number of achievements had been realized by the implementation of the Customs Union and the Common Market Protocols, the challenges notwithstanding.
“Through the Custom Union Protocol, we have enormously enhanced the volume of trade within the Community. The Bloc has been rapidly emerging as a magnet for Foreign Direct Investment. We are on the right track in our quest to improve agriculture which is one of East Africa’s most important sectors, with about 80% of the population of the region living in rural areas and depending on it for the livelihood”, H.E. Dr Ali Mohammed Shein said.
The President called for accelerated efforts to improve the infrastructure to spur development.
“It is inspiring to see that we have many infrastructure projects in progress. However, we still need to accelerate our efforts to improve our roads, railways, waterways, aviation and communication system. It is the high-quality and robust infrastructure systems that will facilitate the movement of goods, persons, capital and services. In addition, having modern and sustainable infrastructure will make us closer together and become more inspired in developing other sectors”, he said.
He maintained that United Republic of Tanzania was keen on focusing on industrialization as the game changer in the integration process.
“As you are all aware, since the coming of the Fifth phase of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, the President, His Excellency Dr. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, has asserted an impressive industrialization focus. At the same time, Zanzibar is in the process of reviewing its industrial policy targeting improvement of its industrial sector. We hope to raise industrial productivity and secure market within the East African Region and beyond”, H.E Dr Ali Mohammed Shein said.
He urged the EAC to take advantage and to explore the opportunities that make it (region) an economic strong-hold noting that a strong industrial powerhouse would shore up Gross Domestic Product (GDP) across board.
“We need to move from where we are now, where the contribution of manufacturing to GDP in East Africa is estimated at 8.9%, which is considerably below the average target of about 25% that all the Partner States have set for themselves to achieve by 2032. It is through the industrial development that we can eliminate the current unemployment challenges that exist in all Partner States”, Dr Shein stated.
On tourism, the President called for more efforts to see the sector, which is a mainstay of Zanzibar improved.
“It has been reported that the region receives less than 5 million tourists and holiday makers from abroad a year out of over one billion, which is the world’s total. This number, in fact, does not reflect the global popularity and fame of our tourist attractions. We can do better as a bloc”, the President said.
The President hailed EALA for its continued role in sensitizing the citizens of the region saying many stood to gain from the initiative.
“Sensitization programmes are a costly affair but the benefits outweigh the costs. Sensitization and outreach remain extremely fundamental if the EAC is to be wholly owned by the people and for the people”, the President added.
In attendance at the Special Sitting were the 2nd Vice President of the Zanzibar, H.E. Seif Ali Iddi, the Chief Justice, Lordship Omar Makunga, senior government officials and diplomats. Also gracing the occasion were former Members of EALA from Zanzibar.
The President congratulated the Assembly for promoting Kiswahili in the region.
“Mr. Speaker, the recent resolution by EALA on the envisaged promotion and use of Kiswahili is very commendable. As the lingua franca, Kiswahili is set to strengthen our brotherly bonds even further”, he said.
He remarked that the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar would support the EAC Kiswahili Commission to the hilt.
“I am delighted by the East African Community’s decision to choose Zanzibar as the headquarters of the East African Kiswahili Commission (EAKC). This is a very important institution of the Community. You have made the right decision, taking into account of the fact that the standard Kiswahili is spoken in Zanzibar. We thank you sincerely for the decision and pledge our full support”, H.E. Dr Ali Mohammed Shein said.
The President further informed the regional legislators the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) had broadened its Kiswahili curriculum, offering special Kiswahili courses at various levels to foreign students and Ph.D. courses to both local and foreigner students.
In his remarks, the Speaker of EALA, Rt Hon Daniel Kidega, termed as absolute, the need for political will to ensure realization of integration.
“In this exciting time of integration, we need to maintain the tempo as we implement the Customs Union and the Common Market and concretize the next steps towards the Monetary Union and ultimately, the Political Federation. In so doing, the EAC should address existing bottlenecks such as NTBs, free movement of persons and goods”, Rt Hon Kidega said.
He urged Partner States to keep on track with the region’s 10-year Infrastructure Development Strategy, which among other things, lays emphasis on Public-Private Partnership investments in railways, roads, ports and energy.
Zanzibar, the Speaker remarked, had the potential of becoming the unprecedented “Dubai of Africa” owing to the existence of a free port. The Speaker remarked that peace and security were key components of development. Rt Hon Kidega remarked that the Inter-Burundi dialogue currently chaired by the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Benjamin William Mkapa, needed all the support to ensure normalcy is restored in the East African nation.
“Peace is key so that citizens of Republic of Burundi and Republic of South Sudan carry on with their lives without fear of any more loss of life, injury or destruction of property. And they can enjoy benefits from the integration process”, Speaker Kidega noted.
This is the first time the 3rd Assembly is meeting in Zanzibar as part of its rotational principle. The 2nd Assembly on its part held a Sitting in Zanzibar in December 2007.
Over the next two weeks, EALA is expected to dispense with three key Bills, the EAC Trafficking in Persons Bill 2016, the EAC Polythene Materials Control Bill 2016 and the EAC Gender Equality and Development Bill 2016.
The House shall also be furnished by a number of reports. They include Reports of the Committee on Communication, Trade and Investments, the Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution and the Committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges. The Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources and the General Purpose Committee shall also be tabling their reports.
On his part, the Speaker of the Zanzibar House of Representatives, Rt Hon Zubeir Ali Maulid asked for the enhancement of the Common Market Protocol to have a more robust integration.
“Partner States are expected to gain a lot of benefits through free movement of labour among other things”, he said.
The Speaker affirmed the tradition of rotational principle saying it brought the Assembly closer to the people. He called for the amendment of Article 50 of the Treaty to enable the direct election of Members from Zanzibar to the EALA and added that Zanzibar House of Representatives would be interested in participation in a number of fora organized by EALA for mutual benefit between the two Parliaments.
In the vote of thanks, Hon Leonce Ndarubagiye, said the people of Zanzibar had shown much enthusiasm in the integration process. He remarked that Zanzibar was entry of point to the region and a melting pot of cultures and religion.
EALA Sittings are held under the principle of rotation in line with Article 55 of the EAC Treaty. EALA meets at least once in every year at its headquarter in Arusha, Tanzania.
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About the East African Legislative Assembly:
The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is the Legislative Organ of the Community and has a cardinal function to further EAC objectives, through its Legislative, Representative and Oversight mandate. It was established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.
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