The curtains have closed on the 133rd Inter-Parliamentary Union General Assembly and related Meetings in Geneva, Switzerland.
Adopting a resolution on democracy in the digital era at the 133rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the MPs have set new standards on protecting democracy and digital freedoms in an age of mass surveillance.
The resolution urges Parliaments to review national laws to prohibit the interception, collection, analysis and storage of personal data without informed consent of concerned individuals or valid court order.
Legislators further reiterated the need for fairer and more humane migration. The resolution outlined a set of measures that MPs could take to protect migrants and maximise the full potential of the world’s oldest human phenomenon.
They further committed to working towards the ratification of various international conventions that protect migrants’ and refugee rights. The President of the IPU, Hon. Saber Chowdhury said that IPU had embraced an open door policy and was keen to continue collaboration with the national assemblies, regional and international bodies.
EALA was represented by the Speaker, Rt Hon. Daniel F. Kidega and Hon. Straton Ndikuryayo. In his remarks, Rt Hon. Kidega underscored the importance of focus on part of legislators towards ensuring countries undertake more humane migration.
He said the refugees’ problem would probably be a thing of the past in the EAC region once it attains the Political Federation. He however lamented that the refugees’ problem had continued to affect the region owing to instabilities in Somalia, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, and that it was larger than anticipated a few years ago.
The matter, he remarked, was more complicated given the entry of the Common Market Protocol which anticipates free movement of the citizens. The General Assembly was attended by over 90 Speakers and 600 Members of Parliament from 130 Parliaments globally.
Parliament of Uganda was represented by a delegation led by Speaker, Rt Hon. Rebecca Kadaga while the President of the Senate of Burundi, Rt Hon. Révérien Ndikuriyo led his team. Rt Hon. Ekwee Ethuro and a number of legislators from both Houses represented Kenya while the Deputy Speaker of Rwanda Senate, Hon. Jeanne D’Arc Gakuba led the team from Parliament of Rwanda.
Parliament of Tanzania which was dissolved at the end of the term in July 2015 sent a Senior Parliamentary staff, Owen Mwandumbya. 133rd Assembly approved the re-admission of Fiji into the IPU in a move welcomed by the Organisation as a significant step forward in ongoing efforts to cement democracy in the country and in IPU’s engagement with parliaments from Pacific Ocean Island nations.
The re-admission at Fiji increases the Organisation’s membership to 167 national parliaments. Fiji had first joined IPU in 1997 but was expelled from the IPU following a military coup in 2007.
The 133rd Assembly further convened several IPU bodies including the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians, IPU’s Forum of Young Parliamentarians, the Committee on Middle East Questions as well as the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.
The next (134th) IPU General Assembly shall be held in Lusaka, Zambia in March 2016.
EALA Speaker Rt Hon. Daniel F. Kidega is calling on legislators in Burundi to go the extra mile to help cement calmness in the East African country.
Rt Hon. Kidega said peace in Burundi was vital to enable the nation to realise any meaningful progress. The EALA Speaker made the call when he held talks with the President of the Senate of Burundi, Rt Hon. Révérien Ndikuriyo on the sidelines of the 133rd Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.
“As representatives of the people, you have a role to play in ensuring stability of the nation is maintained”, Rt Hon. Kidega told the Speaker of the Senate. “As Parliamentarians, you are not just the representatives of the people, but you are their voice also and are capable of instilling confidence in the populace”, he added.
The Speaker added that EALA would continue to stand firm with Burundi and that its position on the situation in the country was firmly aligned with that of the Summit for the EAC Heads of State.
The EALA Speaker informed the Speaker of Senate that the regional Assembly had in May-June this year, undertaken a goodwill mission to assess the situation of the refugees from Burundi in Kigoma, United Republic of Tanzania and in the Eastern Province of the Republic of Rwanda. The report he noted, was further debated and adopted at its recent sitting in Nairobi, Kenya (2nd meeting of the 4th Session of the 3rd Assembly).
Present at the occasion was the Deputy Speaker of the Senate of Burundi, senior diplomatic officials of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Burundi to the UN Office and other international organisations in Geneva led by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, H.E. Pierre Claver Ndayiragije and the EALA Senior Public Relations Officer, Bobi Odiko.
The President of the Senate, Rt Hon. Révérien Ndikuriyo, lauded EALA for the support so far shown to the Republic of Burundi. He maintained that all stakeholders were committed to finding a lasting solution to take the country forward.
“The Head of State has called for national dialogue”, he remarked and “this shall help realise national consensus”, he added.
Rt Hon. Ndikuriyo maintained though that Burundi was largely peaceful. “Ideally, I have been to eleven of the seventeen Provinces in the country so far. I want to report that in a number of places visited, the situation is calm”, the Senate Speaker added.
“The authorities continue to do all that is possible to restore calm in some of the areas that may still be tense if any”, he added. He stated the leadership of Parliament of Burundi was keen to meet with their counterparts from the Parliament of Rwanda as well to help inspire confidence between citizens of both nations.
On his part, the Deputy Speaker of Senate, hailed the Summit of EAC Heads of State for their mediation efforts. “I congratulate H.E. Yoweri Museveni who is heading the peace efforts on behalf of the EAC”, he said.
The 133rd Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) General Assembly and related Meetings commenced in Geneva, Switzerland with sustained calls for fairer and more humane migration.
The General Assembly brings together over 50 Speakers and 600 Members of Parliament from 130 Parliaments globally over the next 5 days in discussing key thematic areas on migration. The theme this year is “the moral and economic imperative for fairer, smarter and more human migration”.
Addressing the Assembly, EALA Speaker, Rt Hon. Daniel Fred Kidega said that migration was a predominant and persistent characteristic of humanity, and that it occupied a central place in human history and current affairs.
The Speaker pushed for the uptake of the Political Federation in the East African region saying such move would demystify the refugees’ problem. “At worst, under the Political Federation, we can only be talking about internally displaced persons and not refugees”, he remarked.
He therefore urged Parliamentarians and Parliaments to concert individual and collective efforts in ensuring countries undertake more humane and smarter migration. “As Parliamentarians, we need to focus on the migration challenge by probing the root causes of international migration, particularly global processes that are unprecedented in their power to encourage the crossing of borders”, he said.
The Speaker noted that insecurities in the neighbouring countries of the EAC similarly resulted in the migration inflows and the refugees’ problem arising from instability in Somalia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi was larger than anticipated a few years ago.
The matter, he remarked, was more complicated given the entry of the Common Market Protocol which anticipates free movement of the citizens.
The Speaker said the EAC was working towards attaining a sustainable and stable region that boosts and respects the UN agenda, particularly on matters of peace, development, challenge of migration and human rights.
“The Parliaments must take their role of legislation, representation and oversight in the areas”, Rt Hon. Kidega remarked. Rt Hon. Kidega also urged Parliaments / Assemblies to enact effective law against traffickers and smugglers.
The Speaker is leading a delegation of EALA consisting of Hon. Straton Ndikuryayo and two EALA staff. The top leadership of the Parliaments of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi are in attendance while Parliament of Tanzania is represented by senior staff.
The issue of humane migration is taking central stand following the recent Syrian crisis among others. According to the IPU, although the more than 230 million migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the world today represent a small percentage of the global population, rising xenophobia combined with the ongoing impact of the global economic crisis continue to warp any reasoned debate and policy response on the migration phenomenon.
The President of IPU, Hon. Saber Chowdhury said it was necessary for IPU to consider better migration in order to impact on people’s lives. “This is a critical agenda that we must engage in”, Hon. Chowdhury said. He noted that IPU and the UN were working closely together and that more collaboration was expected in the coming year.
The Director of ILO said that migration was a major trend given that 1 in every 7 persons globally are migrating. He cited degradation of environment, demand for labour and instabilities as some of the reasons for migration. He maintained that Parliaments can also pass legislation on diaspora and ensure policies on the same are effected.
The 133rd Assembly has also considered and approved the re-admission of Fiji into the IPU in a move welcomed by the Organisation as a significant step forward in ongoing efforts to cement democracy in the country and in IPU’s engagement with parliaments from Pacific Ocean Island nations.
The re-admission of Fiji today increases the Organisation’s membership to 167 national parliaments. Fiji had first joined IPU in 1997. However, a military coup in 2006, the fourth since 1970, had led to the dissolution of parliament and Fiji’s formal expulsion from the Organisation in 2007.
The 133rd Assembly will also convene several IPU bodies including the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians, IPU’s Forum of Young Parliamentarians, the Committee on Middle East Questions as well as the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians. Cases involving the violations of the human rights of nearly 120 MPs from 21 countries will be examined by the IPU Committee, which will also hold up to 12 hearings with parliamentary authorities, victims and others who could assist in investigations.
The curtains closed on the 2nd Meeting of the 4th Session late last week, with the Assembly adjourning debate on a Bill and a motion respectively.
EALA adjourned debate on the Forest Management and Protection Bill, 2015. The adjournment at Committee stage followed the successful Motion for the same tabled by the Chair of EAC Council of Ministers, Hon. Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, seeking for more time to enable the United Republic of Tanzania to make input.
Hon. Dr Mwakyembe informed the House that the United Republic of Tanzania would go to the polls in the next few days and said it was necessary that the debate be put on hold until such time the incoming Government is in place to effectively enable the Partner State to make input.
Though majority of Members rose up to support the Motion for adjournment, they however noted that the practice should not be encouraged. “We committed to the EAC as Partner States and not based on tenure of sitting Governments, it is important that the records of the House state so”, Hon. Martin Ngoga said.
Hon. Judy Pareno told the Assembly to check the emerging trend of the Council of Ministers taking over Bills and then stalling them over periods of time, citing the EAC Disaster Risk Reduction and Management and the EAC Cross-Border Legal Practice Bill as examples.
“The Executive should not be seen to be torpedoing the function of the Assembly”, she noted.
Hon. Dora Byamukama also lamented that the Assembly should not stall when there are elections in Partner States saying it would set a bad precedence. Hon. Adam Kimbisa and Hon. Mukasa Mbidde also voiced support for the Bill, whose mover is Hon. Christophe Bazivamo.
The Speaker, Rt Hon. Daniel F. Kidega ruled that the debate on the key Bill be brought back on the Order Paper when the Assembly resumes in Kigali, Rwanda in November.
The EAC Forestry and Management Protection Bill, 2015 hopes to promote the development, protection, conservation, sustainable management and use of the forests in the Community, especially trans-boundary forests ecosystems, in the interest of present and future generations.
It further wants to espouse the scientific, cultural and socio-economic values of forests and harmonise national forest laws. Also put on hold was debate on Motion for a Resolution to ratify and deposit the required instruments of the amended Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union. The import of the Resolution whose mover is Hon. Mike Sebalu is to enable Pan-African Parliament to achieve the important pillar of legislation.
Hon. Dr Odette Nyiramilimo moved the motion to adjourn debate to enable Members acquaint themselves with the said Protocol. Earlier on, the Chair of the EAC Council of Ministers responded to a number of questions posed by Hon. Dora Byamukama and Hon. Shyrose Bhanji.
On Tuesday, the Assembly passed a Report of the Goodwill mission by the Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution Committee to visit Burundi Refugees in Kigoma, Tanzania and in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. The Members stressed the need to tackle the root causes of the refugee situation in the region rather than addressing the symptoms.
The Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution Committee led by the Chairperson, Hon. Abdullah Mwinyi was dispatched to Kigoma and Eastern Province of Rwanda in late May and early June 2015 to appraise itself with the humanitarian situation on the ground and to assess the amenities available.
During debate, Hon. Twaha Issa Taslima noted that the situation in the refugee camps visited were disturbing. He noted that the Nyarugusu camp in Tanzania was already congested with other refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) also taking refuge there.
Hon. Chris Opoka-Okumu urged the host countries to put in place mechanisms under which refugees who have stayed long can be absorbed into such states through naturalisation.
Hon. Mukasa Mbidde informed the House that refugees interviewed at the camps maintained they fled - fearing threats due to what they described as organised violence and arbitrary arrests by militia and other armed groups.
Hon. Christophe Bazivamo told the House that experience in the region has shown that refugee crisis are closely associated with the elections due to violence before, during and after the polls.
He pleaded for the EAC States to adhere to the principles of good governance, democracy, human rights and rule of law to minimise the crisis. Hon. Shyrose Bhanji called on all players in the Burundi politics to preach peace and avoid further violence, adding that the EALA mission had established that peace dialogue was the best way to end the political crisis there.
Presenting the report, the Chair of Goodwill Mission, Hon. Mwinyi said over 100,000 Burundians have fled their country since April this year to Tanzania, Rwanda, DRC and Uganda following violence precipitated by disagreement over the interpretation of the Arusha Accord and the Burundi Constitution on the issue of presidential term.
The next Sitting takes place in Kigali, Rwanda in November 2015.
Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera, Secretary-General of the East African Community (EAC) yesterday paid a courtesy visit to the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST). He was accompanied by Mr Aloysius Chebet, EAC Principal Education Officer and Ms Alice Maro, EAC Communications Expert.
At the occasion, Prof. Burton Mwamila, NM-AIST Vice Chancellor, expressed his gratitude to the Secretary-General for taking time off his busy schedule to visit to the Institution. After his opening remarks, Prof. Mwamila gave an overview presentation on NM-AIST to the EAC delegates, and some 150 attendees comprising of NM-AIST faculty staff members and students.
During his keynote address, Amb. Sezibera commended the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania for investing in the establishment of the Institution.
He further urged leaders of other EAC Partner States to also support NM-AIST, so as to “further develop it into a Regional Hub where brilliant and great minds of East African sons and daughters can experiment and transform their innovative ideas into real solutions and products for the economic transformation of the region and the continent at large”.
Further into his speech, the Secretary-General talked about alarming numbers of science and engineering graduates in Africa, currently standing at 35 scientists and engineers per million inhabitants. He attributes this low figure to the ever-growing brain drain of the well-educated and skilled populations, as well as to the low GDP spending by African governments on Research and Development (R&D). Only three countries in Africa spend one percent of their GDP on R&D: Uganda, Malawi and South Africa.
The Secretary-General was taken on a campus tour of NM-AIST where he visited the laboratory complex to further identify areas of collaboration for the two institutions.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has today addressed EALA, calling on the Assembly to consolidate its work for the furtherance of the integration process. President Kenyatta further said the citizens of the region were yearning to freely move, work and enjoy the tangible benefits of integration.
The President was addressing a Special Sitting of the 2nd Meeting of the 4th Session of the 3rd Assembly which commenced in Nairobi last week.
The President reiterated his commitment and that of his Government to the integration process. “I will begin by repeating my Government’s complete commitment to East African integration. I know that the future of each of us in the region is bound up with the fate of all the rest. Leaders must create the laws, the institutions, and the framework that will help us face that future together. Kenya will play its part in that great task”, President Kenyatta said.
The President further urged stakeholders in the integration dispensation to go the extra mile and create awareness to the citizens of the region. He remarked that citizens of the region needed to be fully aware of the integration process. He said this was a role to be undertaken by both politicians and the ordinary people as well.
“I wish to make a point that we who are convinced of the imperative of integration must communicate it better to our people. Too often, the integration of East Africa is taken to be merely a political matter - a job for politicians, not ordinary people. True, leaders must lead. But we have failed to spark the imaginations of East Africans when it comes to integration”, the President remarked.
The President maintained that the Summit of EAC Heads of State was committed to ensuring the region’s infrastructure is improved for the betterment of their lives. “Some of you will recall that several of my brothers came to the signing and witnessing of agreements for the Standard Gauge Railway, some time ago. Others – perhaps more, given that it was earlier this month – will recall that my brother President Jakaya Kikwete of United Republic of Tanzania visited Kenya to commission the Taveta-Arusha road”, President Kenyatta said.
“These projects are representative of the hard work that has gone into knitting the nations of the community together by road, rail and air”, he added. The President lauded the Assembly for its enhanced performance and challenged them to go the extra mile in realising its mandate.
“A key issue if I may speak directly to the Assembly, Mr Speaker, is on the performance. Your mandate ends soon. In the last few months, under the wise leadership of Speaker Kidega, you have done much: new Bills, reports, and resolutions have flowed at a steady pace. But if I may say so myself, we would all like to see you leave a legacy: a set of measures that will be remembered as long as this Community lasts”, the President said.
On sustainability matters, the President was emphatic that direct funding of the Assembly would strengthen the capacity for EALA to deliver its mandate. “Direct funding would strengthen the capacity of the Community to deliver its mandate. It would also hasten the day of complete integration. Now, there remains the matter of sustainability. It has been proposed that Partner States of the Community show their commitment to your goals by funding you directly”, President Kenyatta said.
“It has my complete support, and I will be happy to consult with you to see it introduced quickly and effectively”, the President added.
The President also gave a nod to the request by the EALA Speaker to change the mode of Assent of Bills from the rotational mode to be a function on the sidelines of the Summit of EAC Heads of States meeting in order to enhance efficiency.
The Head of State further lauded the EAC Secretary-General, Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera for the role played in effective leadership of the Assembly. In his remarks, the Speaker of the EALA, Rt Hon. Daniel F. Kidega noted that East Africans were interested in seeing more tangible benefits of integration.
The Speaker called on the Partner States to ensure its full implementation of the Customs Union and the Common Market Protocols stating that bureaucrats in governments were causing unnecessary red tape in the processes.
“Whereas there is political goodwill and commitment to strengthen integration, citizens in the region continue to demand to see the tangible benefits. Somewhere along the way, there is always some disconnect of some form. As politicians, we sometimes see the technocrats in Government as the persons hindering progress by instigating red tape and unnecessary bureaucracies”, Rt Hon. Speaker said.
He called on government officials to follow procedures in a manner that facilitates rather than encumbers integration. The Speaker called on the Summit of EAC Heads of State to intervene to ensuring the Institutional Review of the EAC is finalized. He lamented that the Institutional Review process was an expensive affair to taxpayers and time consuming.
“This is none other than the Institutional Review which has been on the cards for the last six years and has cost tax payers – an estimated, yet astronomical figure of USD 2 Million! The process has been through a full round in circles much to the detriment of the EAC. On the one side, the Secretariat and other Organs remain under-capacitated and under-funded. On the other side, the EAC is unable to realise its full potential”, Rt Hon. Speaker said.
“I appeal to you and through you to the Summit to intervene in the matter”, he said. He reiterated the need for the mode of Assent to be enhanced by taking opportunity of the EAC Summit of Heads of State. “We are of the view that the region takes advantage of the Summit sittings which can create opportune moment for the Summit Members to exercise their mandate as stipulated under Article 63”, Speaker Kidega said.
The Speaker also called for the full autonomy of the Assembly which he said was necessary to enable it realise its mandate. “At the moment, the Assembly has a semi-autonomous status – the ideal scenario would be full autonomy including the direct funding by Partner States. It is key that we sit down with the Executive in the near future to find a lasting solution to the matter”, he remarked.
The Speaker hailed the progress in Kenya as commendable. He remarked that the country was on the verge of transformation. He commended the Government of Kenya’s new procurement policy of allocating quotas to the youth as laudable.
“With regards to youth empowerment, the Government has supported establishment of over 20,000 youth enterprises, trained over 200,000 entrepreneurs and set aside a programme supplemented by a new policy that ensures allocation of 30 per cent of all Government procurement to enterprises owned by the youth, women and people with disability. Such drive / commitment to see the youth aspire to move out of the poverty bracket is commendable”, Speaker Kidega said.
“Since the Session began, we have successfully debated and enacted the EAC Electronic Transactions Bill, 2014. This is a key Bill which paves way for the growth of e-transactions in the region by enabling the corporate world and the public sector to transact business using the digital means in a safe and secure environment. A key Report on the Goodwill Mission of EALA to the Burundi refugees in Kigoma, Tanzania and Rwanda was also debated and passed. Before we conclude, we hope to pass the EAC Forest Management and Protection Bill 2015 and the EAC Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Bill, 2015 and to pose key questions to the Council of Ministers.”
Moving the vote of thanks, Hon. Martin Ngoga noted that Kenya had progressed following the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta. Hon. Ngoga lauded the President for reminding EALA on the obligations. “It is important for us to walk with the people at their pace”, He said. The member further thanked H.E. Margaret Kenyatta for her contributions towards reducing mortality of the young children in the country.
The EALA Sitting ends on Thursday, 15th October 2015.
A 55 member EAC Election Observer Mission is due to arrive in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Sunday, 18th October 2015, to observe the General Elections slated for 25th October 2015 in both the Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar.
The EAC Mission is a response to the invitation of the National Electoral Commission of Tanzania as well as the decision of the EAC Council of Ministers on observation of elections in the Partner States. The Mission’s mandate is to observe the overall electoral environment, pre-election activities, the polling day, the counting and tallying of results.
The Mission, which is being led by H.E. Awori Arthur Athansius Moody, former Vice President of the Republic of Kenya, will first undergo a pre-deployment training from 19th to 21st October 2015 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania before deploying to the regions.
The Mission is preceded by a pre-elections assessment team that was deployed from 4th October 2015 to assess the level of preparedness by key stakeholders and prepare a report that will inform the Short Term Election Observation Mission.
The members of the EAC Election Observer Mission has been drawn from different but complementary disciplines and includes, members of the East African Legislative Assembly as well as Members of National Assemblies from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, National Electoral Commissions, National Human Rights Commissions, Civil Society Organisations, and youth representatives from EAC Youth Ambassadors Forum.
The exclusion of members from the United Republic of Tanzania is consistent with the adopted practice on the Principles of Election Observation and Evaluation which precludes nationals of the host country from participating as Election Observations in their own countries.
Commenting ahead of the deployment, the EAC Deputy Secretary-General in charge of Political Federation, Mr Charles Njoroge says the Mission is being undertaken pursuant to Article 3 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community which requires “…adherence to universally acceptable principles of democratic governance and in line with the EAC Principles of Election Observation and Evaluation”.
The EAC Deputy Secretary-General asserts that “as the region moves deeper in the integration process with the ultimate goal of having a Political Federation, EAC Partner States need to standardise their governance practices and should take keen interest in each other’s political and electoral processes”.
Mr Njoroge contends that successful and peaceful elections in the United Republic of Tanzania is of paramount importance to the Partner States and the region as a whole because lack of peace and stability in any Partner State will definitely undermine the outstanding milestones the region has so far achieved through regional integration.
“Therefore, we expect a successful mission and we very much hope that they will further strengthen the democratic process and advance development in the region”.
The Mission is expected to prepare a Report that will be submitted to, among others, the National Electoral Commission of Tanzania, through the EAC Council of Ministers for consideration and implementation. The Mission will leave Tanzania on 29th October 2015.
EALA yesterday passed the EAC Electronic Transactions Bill 2014 paving way for the business and corporate world to transact business using digital means.
Debater after debater supported the Bill saying it would grow the economies of Partner States and the region. The Bill had a number of clauses revised and or inserted to reflect relevancy and consistency.
The Electronic Transaction Bill, 2014 seeks to meet the need of exploiting electronic transactions in the modern day business transactions. The Bill further wants to promote technology neutrality in applying legislation to electronic communications and transactions and to develop a safe, secure and effective environment for the consumer, business and the Governments of the Partner States to conduct and use electronic transactions.
Debate on the Bill was adjourned at the 1st Meeting of the 4th Session of the 3rd Assembly held in August 2015 in Kampala, Uganda to pave way for stakeholders to make additional input.
The adjournment came after a request for deferment of the debate by the Chair of Council of Ministers, Hon. Dr Abdallah Saadaala was approved. The Chair of Council of Ministers reiterated total support of the Bill but added there was need for more time for the consolidation of further inputs and comments by stakeholders.
At the same time, consultations are been called to allow for enrichment of the Report of the Committee of Communication, Trade and Investment.
In his ruling then, Speaker Rt Hon. Daniel F Kidega directed that the Bill, whose initiator is Hon. Dr James Ndahiro, be brought back to the Order paper during the Nairobi Sitting.
On Wednesday this week, the debate was adjourned a second time to avail the Committee time to look through the comments received from the Monetary Affairs Committee (MAC). When debate resumed yesterday, several members rose up in support of the Bill. Hon. Nancy Abisai, Hon. Fredrick Ngezebuhoro, Hon. Mike Sebalu, Hon. Shyrose Bhanji, Hon. Zein Abubakar and Hon. Susan Nakawuki gave a firm nod to the Bill.
Others were Hon. Patricia Hajabakiga, Hon. Martin Ngoga, Hon. Sarah Bonaya, Hon. Leonce Ndarubagiye, Hon. Valerie Nyirahabineza and Hon. Adam Kimbisa. Also supporting the Bill were Hon. Joseph Kiangoi, Hon. Twaha Issa Taslima, Hon. Abdullah Mwinyi, Hon. AbuBakr Ogle, Hon. Bernard Mulengani, Hon. Peter Mathuki and Hon. Chris Opoka.
The Members urged Partner States to embrace the Electronic Transactions Bill and harmonise their laws to the regional law to create a proper environment for all possible users and beneficiaries of ICT in the region and beyond.
The debate was preceded by tabling of the revised report of the Committee on Communication, Trade and Industry on the public hearings of the Electronic Transactions Bill, 2014 by the chairperson, Hon. Mukasa Mbidde.
The Chair of Council of Ministers, Hon. Dr Abdallah Saadaala reiterated the support of the Bill saying all Partner States were of the same frame of mind when it comes to the tangible benefits of electronic transactions.
EALA yesterday administered the Oath of Allegiance of the EAC Treaty to two new Members as the 2nd Meeting of the 4th Session of the 3rd Assembly commenced.
The Assembly swore in the re-appointed Minister for EAC Affairs in the Republic of Burundi, Hon. Leontine Nzeyimana as an ex-officio Member of the House and Hon. Dr Francois Xavier Kalinda, the new Member from Rwanda.
The Oath of Allegiance to the House was administered by the Clerk of EALA, Kenneth Madete before the EALA Speaker, Rt Hon. Daniel F. Kidega. Both legislators took the oath in accordance with Rule 5(4) of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly. The Rules of Procedure say in part that: “No Member can sit or participate in the proceedings of the House until the Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance to the Treaty is taken”.
Rule 5(5) specifically states that “when a Member first attends to take his or her seat other than at the first sitting of a new House, he or she shall be brought to the table by two Members and presented by them to the Speaker who shall then administer the Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance”.
Hon. Nzeyimana who was recently re-appointed Minister for EAC by President Pierre Nkurunziza following the elections in Republic of Burundi, was ushered into the House by Hon. Emerence Bucumi and Hon. Isabelle Ndahayo. She previously served in the same position.
Hon. Dr Francois Xavier Kalinda was escorted in by Hon. Valerie Nyirahabineza and Hon. Dr Odette Nyiramilimo. Hon. Dr Kalinda was elected by the Parliament of Rwanda to EALA on 15 September 2015, replacing Hon. Celestine Kabahizi who tendered in his resignation from the Assembly in June 2015.
The Legislator garnered 79 votes to beat his rival Pelagie Uwera, who got 12 votes, out of 91 lawmakers of both chambers of Parliament. Dr Kalinda assured Parliament that he would diligently take his expertise to EALA and work with colleagues in a bid to find solutions to the region’s problems.
Prior to his election, Hon. Dr Kalinda was the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Rwanda. Hon. Dr Kalinda, 53, holds a Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Business Law obtained from the University of Strasbourg, France, in 2010. After graduating from the then National University of Rwanda in 1996, he pursued a Master of Law in Intellectual Property Rights at the University of Ottawa, in Canada, completing in 1999.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is calling on the region to concert its integration efforts, showcase the fruits of integration and facilitate the incremental approach of the pillars ultimately leading to the Political Federation of the region.
The Head of State maintained that the Summit of the EAC and his Government were committed to the integration agenda as evidenced by accelerated approach towards the development of infrastructure among other benefits.
President Kenyatta’s remarks were delivered by the Speaker of the Senate, Rt Hon. Ekwee Ethuro at the commencement of the 2nd Meeting of the 4th Session of the 3rd Assembly at the Kenya National Assembly this morning.
He reiterated that the Standard Gauge Railway which a couple of years back was a pipe-dream was now a reality. “There is increased focus towards the development of the Northern corridor. There are also plans to develop an oil and gas pipeline from Uganda trough north-western Kenya (Turkana) to the port of Mombasa to ease transportation of crude oils and to enhance exportation of mineral oils. I see no wavering by our Summit towards this process and I am assured that in the near future, the fruits of these efforts will come to bear”, Rt Hon. Ethuro said. Rt Hon. Ethuro remarked that it was vital for the Common Market Protocol to be fully implemented and devoid of Non-Tariff Barriers to enable citizens reap the full benefits.
“While this Protocol was ratified and came into force almost 6 years, the people of the region are still not enjoying these freedoms. Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), for instance, are one hindrance to the enjoyment of these freedoms”, the Senate Speaker said.
“We strive towards the elimination of NTBs to ease movement of people and goods while adhering to the Rules of Origin,” he added. The Senate Speaker rooted for amendment of the Treaty in response to a request by his EALA counterpart, Rt Hon. Daniel F. Kidega.
“Mr. Speaker, I am not suggesting that the 1999 Treaty is obsolete; but I believe it is time to consider some amendments to the Treaty in order keep up with changing times. Amendments that we should consider include those that allow citizens to play a more active role in the management of the affairs of the region. Public participation has become a critical pillar in our modern constitutions”, Rt Hon. Ethuro said.
He further hailed EALA for its efforts to ensure peace prevailed in the region. Rt Hon. Ethuro further commended EALA for its legislative performance. “Mr. Speaker, turning to your legislative performance, I want to commend you and Honourable Members because in the last nine months or so, you have managed to pass 7 Bills, published 13 Reports and passed 7 Resolutions. This is evidence of hard work considering that your sessions last short periods compared to sessions of National Assemblies and Senates of Partner States”, Rt Hon. Ethuro said.
In his welcome remarks, the Speaker of the EALA, Rt Hon. Daniel F. Kidega noted that East Africans were interested in seeing more tangible benefits of integration. He noted that with the coming into force of the fully-fledged Customs Union, it was necessary for products to be sold within the ambits of the Customs Union Protocol and without barriers.
“It is in this regard that we as an Assembly, are keenly watching the issue of Sugar given that the Customs Union is now fully-fledged and promotes intra-EAC Trade. We plead that a divide between politics and integration be wedged”, he remarked.
With regards to the Common Market Protocol, the Speaker called on the EAC Partner States to ensure its full implementation saying that East Africans wanted to enjoy full benefits. He cited the process of acquiring work permits as cumbersome. “The Common Market Protocol was entered into in 2010. Yet still today, only few of the EAC citizens would work in another Partner State because they feel and face too many obstacles. The acquisition of work / resident permit is one of the major challenges and the processes need to be harmonised”, Rt Hon. Kidega said.
The Speaker noted that EALA was now stronger and more united in serving East Africans. He called for the amendment of the Treaty to reflect the current times in the integration process.
The Speaker cited challenges facing the Assembly as that concerning the Assent of Bills stating that it was necessary to speed up the processes.
We are of the view that the region takes advantage of the Summit sittings which can create opportune moment for the Summit Members to exercise their mandate as stipulated under Article 63”, Speaker Kidega said. The Speaker also called for the full autonomy of the Assembly, which he said was necessary to enable it realise its mandate.
“At the moment, the Assembly has a semi-autonomous status – the ideal scenario would be full autonomy including the direct funding by Partner States. This is absolutely necessary for the betterment of the EAC. It is key that we sit down with the Executive in the near future to find a lasting solution to the matter”, he remarked.
The Speaker hailed the progress in Kenya as commendable. He cited the economic growth under the mantra of Umoja, Uchumi na Uwazi and progress of infrastructure including the world’s largest Geothermal Plant commissioned in Naivasha last year, which adds 140 megawatts of power to the national grid, effectively bringing down electricity costs as game changers in the development process.
At the EALA Session, the following is the notable business:
The EAC Electronic Transactions Bill, 2014 – 2nd and 3rd Reading
The EAC Forest Management and Protection Bill, 2015 – 2nd and 3rd Reading
The EAC Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Bill, 2015 - 2nd and 3rd Reading
Debate and adopt Reports of various Committees of the House.
The Chair of the Summit of EAC Heads of State is also expected to deliver a Farewell Address to the House next week. Moving the vote of thanks, Hon. Mike Kennedy Sebalu noted that Kenya had progressed following the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
He remarked that EALA Members would continue to spread the integration message. He acknowledged the role and vital contributions of Speaker Ethuro at the Bureau of Speakers Forum. Hon Sebalu said the Senate was successful so far with regards to its continuation to its mandate.
Hon. Sebalu further thanked the Speaker Emeritus, Rt Hon. Abdirahin Abdi and the former Members who were present for their support.