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Assembly passes report on Sensitization, calls for promotion of Kiswahili in the region

East African Legislative Assembly; Arusha, Tanzania; 25 August 2016:EALA late yesterday passed a key report of its outreach and sensitisation activities and with it, called for more awareness among the people on the benefits of EAC integration.

The Assembly further wants the specific interest groups including youth, women, civil and co-operative societies to be fully involved in the integration process and the pillars of integration including the Political Federation, fast tracked.

The growing stature of Kiswahili also did not escape the attention of the legislators. During the sensitisation activities in the Partner States, Members observed the growing interest of the stakeholders in embracing and learning the Kiswahili language. Besides promoting unity among the EAC populace, the Kiswahili language is a critical medium of communication that will facilitate trade in the region.

The Sensitisation report presented by Hon Patricia Hajabakiga, Chair of EALA Rwanda Chapter, is a culmination of outreach and sensitisation activities carried out in the Partner States by the various country Chapters of EALA in June 2016. The activities held between June 9th to 28th, 2016 were anchored under the theme: EAC Youth Agenda: Accessing the Gains.

At the same time, the Assembly also recommended that the EAC Anthem and the flag should go hand in hand with respective national ones (flags) at all times.

The sensitization activity followed the previous one undertaken in April 2016. The activity, emanated from the policy guidance by the Summit and the decision of the Assembly’s Commission to reach out to the people of East Africa as part of their representatives, on the one side. On the other, the move is in accordance with EALA’s Strategic Plan (2013-2018) that is based on a people-centered approach.

Members set out among other things to sensitize the people of East Africa on the integration process; create awareness among the people of East Africa on the gains and challenges of integration and enhance mutual relationships and sustainable networking between EALA and the people of East Africa.

During the sensitization program, EALA country chapters engaged several stakeholders including media, local Government authorities, institutions of learning, Private Sector, women, Youth Councils, Civil Society, Members of Parliament and embassies. Other targeted groups were the border communities, Government institutions as well as Ministries. The Ministries responsible for EAC Affairs in all Partner States coordinated the activity.

In Burundi, the Members called on the Ministers for EAC Affairs and Justice respectively, the EAC Ambassadors situate in Burundi and the President of the Burundi Senate. The Chapter also had interactive sessions with the media and university students before visiting the Rumonge port and the Manyovu border post to hold discussions with stakeholders.

In Kenya, the Chapter visited a number of institutions including BIDCO Africa, Kenya Plant Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and the Capital Markets Authority.

Several interactions took place in Rwanda. The Chapter held meetings with the National Council of Persons with Disabilities, the Private Sector Federation, Rwanda Association of Local Government Authorities (RALGA), National Youth Councils as well as the Women and civil society groups. The Chapter also held discussions with stakeholders at the Cyanika One Stop Border post, Ruhwa One Stop border post, Kagitumba One Stop Border post. The Members also delivered cows they had previously offered to the elderly widowed genocide survivors in Rwamagana, Eastern province of Rwanda.

In the United Republic of Tanzania, the activity was conducted in Dodoma, Morogoro and Zanzibar. The team held discussions with the academia as well as small and medium scale traders.

In Uganda, the Members paid a courtesy call on H.E. Edward Ssekandi, the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda and the Speaker, Rt Hon Rebecca Kadaga. Other meetings included that with the Third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs, Rt Hon Kirunda Kivejinja and his counterparts, the respective Ministers of Trade, Finance, Justice and Constitutional Affairs. The Chapter further held series of meetings with traders and transporters association, clearing industry association agents and shippers’ association before calling on district leaders in Lyantonde, Rakai and Sembabule.

Contributing to the debate, Hon Chris Opoka said traders in the region would benefit if the Common Market protocol is fully embraced. The legislator added that the issue of multiple membership of regional blocs needs to be analysed to assess benefits thereof.

“The Council of Ministers need to critically look into the rationale whether it is really necessary for Partner States to be members of multiple blocs and to spread the resources further, or if they should be co-ordinating their efforts at EAC”, Hon Opoka said.

Hon Joseph Kiangoi underscored the importance of sensitisation saying if the citizens were informed, then full integration was bound to be achieved.

“We share a common history and it should be easier for us to achieve full integration”, Hon Kiangoi said.

Hon Maryam Ussi urged the House to ensure sensitisation is institutionalised in the calendar of activities of EALA.

Hon Mike Sebalu, rooted for Kiswahili as a key language that bonds and enables citizens of the region to communicate effectively and efficiently.

On her part, Hon Dora Byamukama called for amendment of the Treaty to cater for the dynamic process of strengthening integration. She said it would be important if the regional Assembly can be constituted into a constituent Assembly to look into the Political Federation.

Third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs, Rt Hon Kirunda Kivejinja lauded the Assembly for undertaking sensitisation and said the Council would ensure institutionalisation and adequate financing.

Hon Frederic Ngenzebuhoro called for total removal of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and said unfortunately, the removal of some NTBs always led to introduction of new ones.

Hon Dr James Ndahiro, Shyrose Bhanji, Hon Abdullah Mwinyi, Hon Abubakar Zein, Hon Peter Mathuki all rooted for the adoption of the report.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Bobi Odiko Senior
Public Relations Officer
East African Legislative Assembly
Arusha, Tanzania
Tel: +255-27-2508240
Fax: +255-27-2503103
Cell: +255-787-870945, +254-733-718036
Email: BOdiko [at] eachq.org
Web: www.eala.org

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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East African Kiswahili Commission
Maisara Street
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Tel: +255 024 2232704/
+255 024  2232722
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