Our attention has been drawn to issues raised in a story by The East African Newspaper edition of 10th – 16th August, 2019 headlined “EAC Staff desert stations over pay.” At the outset, I wish to clarify that this is a newspaper that we have a lot of respect for at the Community. However, there were glaring errors of fact and accuracy in the article. We wish to clarify the issues raised by the paper as follows:
1. Alleged Desertion by Staff of their Duty Stations due to non-payment of salaries
We can confirm that staff salaries for all EAC Organs and Institutions for the month of July 2019 have been fully paid.
On the issue of some members of staff being out of duty station, we wish to clarify that in accordance with Article 71 of The Treaty, EAC Programmes and Projects are coordinated by the EAC Secretariat with staff undertaking official missions within the Partner States. Judges of the East African Court of Justice and the Members of the East African Legislative Assembly come to Arusha as and when there is business to be transacted as per the respective Organ’s approved Calendar of Activities.
Staff who are out of station are either on annual leave or on official duties in the Partner States. Out of the 400 members of staff at the three EAC Organs based in Arusha, 14 are on annual leave, one is on maternity leave, while 11 are on official missions in the Partner States. It is therefore not true that some members of staff have moved back to their home countries due to non-payment of salaries. Contrary to the claims by The East African, the entire Community is operating normally with all staff of Organs and Institutions on duty.
2. Delay by Partner States in remitting their annual contributions to the Community
We wish to clarify that the EAC normally starts receiving disbursements from the Partner States from the month of August each financial year. This is occasioned by the budgeting processes such as debates in the National Assemblies and approvals for disbursements in the Partner States which in some cases takes up to three months after the commencement of the Financial Year.
At the start of every Financial Year, the Community usually experiences liquidity challenges as it awaits the finalization of the budget approval processes by the Partner States which dictates the disbursement of funds to the EAC through the Ministries responsible for EAC Affairs.
Partner States are expected to make their respective disbursements after the finalization of their national budget approval processes. Further to this, the EAC Financial Rules and Regulations require that Partner States should have disbursed the total financial year contribution by the end of the 2nd Quarter of the Financial Year (31st December every year).
3. The Community is on track towards attaining its vision of an integrated East Africa
The EAC Partner States with the foresightedness of the Heads of State are fully committed to the success of the regional integration agenda. The 19th Summit of the EAC Heads of State held in Kampala, Uganda on 23rd February, 2019 deliberated on the status of the EAC integration and directed the Council of Ministers to take appropriate measures to: fully implement the Single Customs Territory; fast-track full implementation of the Common Market Protocol; fast-track implementation of the Monetary Union, and; make preparations for the drafting of the Constitution of the EAC Political Confederation as a transitional model to the Political Federation. The commitment of the Heads of State has enabled the EAC to attain several achievements including:
a) good political will and climate within the EAC region;
- the EAC regularly holds key statutory meetings of her governance Organs. The Heads of State Summit meets twice in a year, the Council of Ministers meets on a quarterly basis to give policy guidance, Sector-Specific Sectoral Councils meet twice a year
- at the bilateral level, Heads of State within the region meet to commission and launch regional projects e.g. the One Stop Border Posts, roads and railways, ports, energy, health, etc.
- joint cooperation initiatives in defence, small and micro enterprises (SMEs); arts and culture; sports; East African International e-passport; EAC One Area Mobile Network, etc.
b) the continued financial support from Partner States –despite the financial challenges faced by each Partner State, Partner States have continued to fulfill their financial obligations to the EAC;
c) continued collaboration and support from various Development Partners across all the four pillars of the integration process.
d) the strides taken in attaining the four pillars of the integration process, namely Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union and Political Federation;
- Customs Union – EAC is now a Single Customs Territory, 15 One Stop Border Posts operationalized, Authorised Economic Operator, Time-bound removal of Non-tariff Barriers, leading in the implementation of the EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area in addition to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
- Common Market – health projects, education, food security, international e-passport, Mutual Recognition Agreements, Single Tourist Visa, promotion of cultural industries, trade in services
- Monetary Union – enactment of two regional laws to support the establishment of institutions to implement the Monetary Union by 2024 (East African Monetary Institute and East African Statistics Bureau), Financial Sector Development and Regionalization, Payments and Settlements Systems Infrastructure in the Partner States ongoing in all Partner States
- Political Federation – the EAC is in the process of drafting a constitution for the EAC Political Confederation as a transitional model to the Political Federation. The 20th Summit of the EAC Heads of State held on 1st February, 2019 in Arusha, Tanzania appointed 12 Constitutional Lawyers (three from each Partner State) to draft the constitution for the EAC Political Confederation within a period of six (6) months. The Committee of Experts to draft the Constitutions for the Political Confederation will be launched in Kampala, Uganda on 19th August, 2019 by President Yoweri Museveni. The Summit further directed the Council of Ministers to report back to 21st Summit of Heads of State.
e) growth of EAC to accommodate an expanded mandate – establishment of new institutions and Centres of Excellence e.g. the East African Health Research Commission, East African Science and Technology Commission, EAC Competition Authority, East African Kiswahili Commission, East African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, among other institutions.
It is because of these many achievements that the EAC has been rated as the best performing regional economic bloc in Africa by the African Development Bank (2018) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (2017).
The strides and successes the EAC has achieved over the years will be celebrated during the Community’s 20th anniversary which will be marked on the 30th November, 2019 under the theme EAC @ 20: Deepening Integration; Widening Cooperation.
The EAC therefore holds an indispensable and critical position in leading the region to attain the Community’s Vision 2050, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063. Hence, the EAC will continue to lead the integration agenda in Africa.
The EAC integration process as enshrined in the Treaty is therefore on track.
Eng. Steven Mlote, DSG
Deputy Secretary General
(Planning & Infrastructure)
For: The Secretary General