FRIDAY February 25, 2022
By Joe Mhawi
The Tranquility News Reporter, Tanzania
Three bills, a paper and two committees’ reports failed to see the light of the day in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) on Thursday following all members of the East African Council of Ministers absconding the regional House session.
The Council of Ministers was scheduled to lay down for the first reading the East African Community (EAC) Financial Services Commission Bill, 2022; Community Surveillance Compliance and Enforcement Bill, 2022; and the Standardisation, Accreditation and Conformity Assessment Bill, 2022.
Going by the Orders Paper of the day, the Chairperson of the Committee on Accounts was supposed to table a paper on the oversight activity to assess the status of institutional development of the Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA) and the level of enforcement of safety and harmonisation of Civil Air Transport Policies and Civil Aviation Rules and Regulations in the region.
The House would then debate a report on the progress made in integrating South Sudan custom administration into the EAC Custom Union. The Chairperson of the Committee on Communication, Trade and Investment last week moved a motion for the House to adopt the report in question.
The Chairperson of the Committee on Accounts would, in turn, move a motion for the House to adopt a report on the oversight activity to assess the status of institutional development of CASSOA and the level of enforcement of safety, harmonisation of civil air transport policies and civil aviation rules and regulations in the region.
However, neither the Burundi Minister for the East African Community Affairs, Youth, Culture and Sports, who doubles as the Acting Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Mr Nibigira Ezechiel, nor any member of the council was, to the astonishment of the EALA members, present at the bench to lay down the bills and listen to recommendations of the lawmakers on the reports.
The EALA Speaker, Mr Martin Ngoga, last week officially announced in the House that the Kenya government had asked Burundi to execute responsibilities of the Chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers pending the appointment of a new Cabinet Secretary for EAC and Regional Development.
Mr Adan Mohamed, the former Kenya Cabinet Secretary for the docket and chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers, resigned from the posts a fortnight ago ahead of the country’s August 2022 General Election. Mr Mohamed is running for the post of a governor in Mandera County.
On Thursday, the House was informed that Kenya already had appointed Ms Betty Maina, the Cabinet Secretary for Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development, new Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers.
Ms Maina though was following up the EALA members’ complaints virtually, has to be introduced to the EAC partner states and to be sworn in before she officially steers business of the council along with fellow ministers and the EAC Secretariat.
Poor attendance of the members of the EAC Council of Ministers in the 4th assembly meetings and sessions has been begging more questions than answers lately with some EALA members believing the council was apparently casting a vote of no confidence to the bills.
The EALA member, Mr Paul Musamali, suggested the House to convene a meeting for all ex-official lawmakers to explain their motive behind their failure to attend and listen to recommendations of the assembly which was representing ordinary East Africans.
“The Council of Ministers is testing the patience of the House; we are wasting resources to come here only to waste our precious time,” he regretted.
His colleague, Mr Adam Kimbisa, recalled that the absence of a single member of the Council of Ministers in regional the House had never happened in the immediate past assembly.
“It is either today or never, we send a strong message to the people of East African. Should we continue with this trend, we shall be speaking to ourselves,” he cautioned.
Dr Hasnuu Mkame Abdullah said it was a bad day for EALA, EAC and the people of the community they were representing, as the bridge linking the House and the Heads of State Summit was broken in absence of the Council of Ministers.
Contributing virtually to the poor attendance of the members of the Council of Ministers last week, the Rwanda Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Professor Nshuti Manasseh, said it was time instruments were put in place to hold people to account for not performing their responsibilities in the integration agenda.
“Each council member should be given assignments to deliver and report to EALA. He should also be told consequences of the failure,” he suggested, leading the Speaker, Mr Martin Ngoga, concluding the debate by ruling that the assembly would be adjourned in absence of a single member of the council and the EAC Secretary General.
Basing on Mr Ngoga’s ruling, the EALA member, Mr Kennedy Makulia, moved a motion before the interim Speaker, Mr Abdikadir Aden, to adjourn the House to Tuesday when the Council of Ministers, according to the Council to the Community, Dr Anthony Kafumbe, would be presentΩ