Sat. May 18th, 2024

By Godfrey Olukya 28-11-2012

President Jakaya Kikwete today opened the Third Meeting of the First Session of the Third East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

In his speech, President Kikwete called on the Assembly to harness the synergies between itself and the National Assemblies so as to strengthen the integration dispensation.

The Head of State remarked that it was imperative for the region to determine how the Assembly could utilize legislation to harness, mobilize and leverage the participation of the people in the
integration process.

‘The principal responsibility towards sensitizing the publics lie squarely on the head and shoulders of the political leadership in the region. We must address questions that arise including legislation necessary to support the private sector and media among others’,
President Kikwete stated.

The President’s speech was anchored on three key messages, comparative advantage, synergy building and effectiveness and further highlighted the rational use of resources.

President Kikwete cited the consolidation of the Customs Union towards a single Customs Territory, implementation of the critical activities of EAC Food Security and Climate Change Master Plan and the implementation of grand Community oriented projects such as those
under the Lake Victoria Basin Commission as priorities of the Summit of EAC Heads of State.

The President also termed the comprehensive implementation of the Common Market Protocol and the completion of the negotiations on the EAC Monetary Union Protocol as essential in the dispensation.

The Head of State challenged the Partner States to rise to the occasion and to domesticate their laws to ensure the uptake of the Common Market Protocol. “To date none of the Partner States including the United Republic of Tanzania has fully embraced the Common Market Protocol and there is need to do so expeditiously”, President Kikwete remarked.

The Head of State pledged the Summit’s commitment to addressing various challenges facing the integration process so as to enable the citizens to reap from its full benefits. He cited existing challenges as the Non-Tariff Barriers, bureaucratic processes in decision making
and the misuse of the Rules of Origin, which he noted, continue to undermine the integration agenda. He remarked that the region was en-route to establishing the One Stop Border Posts (OSBP) which is expected to facilitate ease of clearance of goods and monitor the elimination of NTBs.

President Kikwete called on the region to delicately address matters of the Monetary Union to avoid making mistakes.

‘We must avoid making mistakes in this important pillar. We must learn from history where the first Community was bedeviled by the Monetary Union leading to its eventual collapse’, President Kikwete stated.

He called on EALA to regularly hold public hearings and consultations with key national leaders as it espouses its mandate to the citizens.

On sensitisation, President Kikwete urged the EAC and the respective Ministries to re-double their efforts and called for the promotion of information sharing amongst the legislators and the executive.

In attendance were Members of EALA, Speakers of National Assemblies and their Representatives, former Speakers of EALA, Parliamentarians, the EAC Secretary General, government officials and other stakeholders. The EALA Plenary runs from today to December 6th, 2012.

In her welcome remarks, the Speaker of EALA, Rt.Hon. Margaret Nantongo Zziwa, urged the region to speedily uptake the Common Market Protocol which she added, spells a number of benefits for the citizens.

‘Your Excellency, the General Purpose Committee has just returned from an oversight visit in the Partner States on the promotion of citizens involvement in the EAC. At the same time, their counterparts on the Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution Committee undertook an on-spot assessment of the EAC projects related to the implementation of the Common Market Protocol. While they shall be reporting back in detail on the floor of the House, a cursory look into their findings suggest that we as a region should do more especially with regards to realizing the tenets of the Common Market Protocol which is soon approaching the 3rd year of implementation’ the Speaker remarked.

The Speaker congratulated the Summit of EAC Heads of State following the successful completion of the EAC Headquarters. The new headquarters is set to be officially inaugurated tomorrow by the Summit.

The occasion also witnessed the taking of oath of allegiance to the Assembly by the Minister for State, Ministry of East African Community Affairs, Republic of Uganda Mr. Shem Bageine. Mr. Bageine is an alternate EALA Member to Rt. Hon Eriya Kategaya, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister in the same docket.

Over the next two weeks, the Assembly is expected to receive Bills from the Council of Ministers, debate motions, reports aimed at deepening and widening the integration agenda. The Program of activities has been interspersed with other EAC activities including the laying of the foundation stone of the One Stop Border Post at Namanga and the official opening of the Arusha-Namanga-Athi-River road.

EALA Member, Hon. Mike Sebalu moved a vote of thanks applauding President Kikwete and the people of the United Republic of Tanzania for the continuous support to EALA. Hon Sebalu thanked President Kikwete for fulfilling the Presidential address and termed the content
vital and educative.

‘The speech today was relevant, insightful and relevant. It analysed issues deeply and had a rich content,’ Sebalu remarked, thanking the Head of State for his hospitality, reliability and availability.



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