Assembly adopts key Report on Sensitisation Activities
East African Legislative Assembly; Nairobi, Kenya; 25 November 2016:
The Assembly is recommending that Sensitisation and awareness on the integration process be institutionalised as a continuous activity on its agenda. This is in addition to a raft of resolutions it adopted late yesterday as it debated a key Report on Sensitisation.
The report follows the sensitisation activities carried out by the Assembly between October 27th 2016 to November 7th, 2016 in the Partner States. The sensitisation, the third such series this year for EALA, targeted various stakeholders in outreach and was anchored on the theme: “EAC Integration Agenda: Accessing the gains”
In the report, the Assembly urges the Partner States to fully implement the Common Market Protocol which provides for free movement of people, capital and services among others, to allow citizens of East Africa to enjoy their rights. With it comes the need for the Partner States to eliminate Non-Tariff Barriers which impact negatively on intra- Regional trade activities.
On matters of peace and security, the Assembly wants the matters prioritised for people to appreciate the benefits of integration. This includes the fastracking of the implementation of the EAC Peace and Security Protocol.
The Assembly is also urging EAC Summit of Heads of States to put more efforts to fast track the on-going peace negotiation for the Republic of Burundi.
Other areas include issuance of work permits to facilitate those who wish to work in EAC Partner States as well as addressing the issue of Certificates of Rules of Origin to facilitate cross border trade.
In a bid to foster integration, the Assembly is urging the Summit of Heads of State to upgrade Kiswahili to be one of the official languages of the Community.
The sensitization programmes targeted Parliamentarians, youth groups, representatives of the business community and local government authorities. Other groups include Government officials, students and media in the respective Partner States.
The objectives of the Sensitisation activities included creating awareness amongst the people of East Africa on the integration process; gains and challenges of integration and enhancing the mutual relationships and sustainable networking between EALA and the people of East Africa.
In Rwanda, the EALA Chapter toured the Rwanda Standards Board to hold discussions with the stakeholders. Also visited were the Nemba One Stop Border Post on the Rwanda/Burundi border as well as a tour to the Rusumo One Stop Border Post bordering Rwanda and Tanzania and at Gatuna on the Rwanda/Uganda frontier.
The Uganda Chapter on its part, met with students at the Kyambogo University before meeting with representatives of the Chamber of Commerce. The Chapter also held talks with the Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, Rt Hon Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga. They later visited the Uganda Heart Institute which is an EAC Centre of Excellence and the Uganda Cancer Institute. The Chapter also visited the Kyambogo University, before holding Public Hearings on four Bills. The Bills are the EAC Gender Equality and Development Bill, 2016, EAC Prohibition of Female and Genital Mutilation Bill, 2016, the EAC Whistle Blower Protection Bill, 2016 and the EAC Retirement Benefits for Specified Heads of Organs Bill, 2016.
In Burundi, the EALA Chapter paid a courtesy call on the President of the Burundi National Assembly and the Minister for EAC Affairs before heading to Muyinga Province. There, the Chapter met with the Governor before proceeding to the Kobero One Stop Border Post. The Chapter also held talks with the Business communities living at the border, where discussions on the benefits of integration took centre stage. The EALA Burundi also held discussions in Ngozi Province with various stakeholders as well as public hearings on a number of bills.
The Chapter in the United Republic of Tanzania toured the Immigration Department in Dar es Salaam. They also paid a courtesy call on the Chama Cha Mapinduzi Secretary General and EALA Speaker Emeritus, Rt Hon Abdulrahman Kinana, as well as sensitisation of different stakeholders in the coastal areas of Dar, Tanga and the environs. The Chapter led by Hon Makongoro Nyerere, further visited the border post of HoroHoro, which neighbours that of Lunga-Lunga on the Kenyan side where they sensitised citizens who reside on both sides of the borders.
In Kenya, EALA visited Government authorities including courtesy calls on the Immigration department and its parent Ministry of Internal and Co-ordination of National Government. The Members similarly met with the Directorate of Immigration where key matters on the e-Passport and border management were discussed and at the Communications Authority of Kenya.
The report presented to the House also cites a number of challenges of the integration process. They include the overlapping of RECs Memberships by Partner States which continue to pose harmonisation and co-ordination challenges and lack of political commitment among Partner States. Weak institutions that lack the capacity to enforce sanctions against Partner States that fail to implement Protocols are also cited. Other challenges include Non-Tariff Barriers, poor infrastructure and energy shortages and corruption.
Hon Isabelle Ndahayo acknowledged that the sensitization programmes were a success and remarked that Burundi was safe and welcoming, contrary to sections of the report. She however said the issue of certificate of origin was least understood and that there was need for more attention to be given to the matter.
Hon. Shyrose Bhanji supported the report stating unity in the region could only be achieved if there was awareness. “EAC integration is not exclusive to politicians and corporates in the region, but it is a matter for every citizen of the EAC,” she said.
She stressed the point that senistisation is about communicating with stakeholders about what is happening in the Community.
Hon Dr Odette Nyiramilimo on her part, said sensitisation was playing a key part in bringing the Assembly closer to the people.
Others who rose up in support of the report were Hon Dr Martin Nduwimana, Hon Maryam Ussi, Hon Jean Marie Muhirwa, and Hon Oda Gasinzigwa. Others were Hon Martin Ngoga and Hon Yves Nsabimana, Hon Judith Pareno and Hon Pierre Celestin Rwigema.
The Assembly resumes its Sitting on Monday next week.
- ENDS -
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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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