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Puzzle of EAC bills that are passed but not effected

Monday November 23 2020
eala pic

East African Legislative Assembly Speaker Martin Ngoga reads the opening prayer when the regional legislature began it latest sitting. PHOTO | FILBERT RWEYEMAMU

Arusha. Dozens of bills passed by the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) have yet to be assented to by the partner states.

The Treaty for its establishment provides that a head of state who withholds assent should refer it to the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) for reconsideration.

However, it emerged last week during an Eala sitting that rarely does the Assembly receive returned bills with such requests.

“As a result most of the bills are not assented to,” said Ms Pamela Maasay, a lawmaker from Tanzania when tabling an EAC Annual Report for 2016/2017.

She told the virtual session of the House that the trend has negatively impacted on the legislative function of the Assembly.

In particular, private members’ bills are mainly affected, she said when presenting a report which drew the ire of some MPs as being outdated.

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The report, obtained by The Citizen, said during 2016/2017, seven bills (not mentioned) were passed by Eala but only two were assented to by the heads of state. Five others passed during the period, were not assented to, meaning they could still be re-submitted for assent or risked being lapse.

Senior officials of the Arusha-based EAC Secretariat declined to discuss the matter but promised to elaborate on the issue later.

According to the EAC Treaty, if the Assembly discusses and approves the bill, it shall be re-submitted to the heads of state for assent.

If a headsof state withholds assent to a re-submitted bill, the proposed piece of legislation becomes lapse.

The report by Eala’s General Purpose Committee could not reveal the number of bills ‘withheld’ by the regional leaders since 2016.

However, the report painted an equally worrying picture on the draft bills which were raised for the first reading before tabled before Eala.

Their debate has been delayed for what the Committee described as “insufficient human and financial resources that are required during the public hearing”.

The four pending bills are The EAC Protection of People with Albinism Bill, 2017 and the East African Youth Council Bill, 2017.

Others are the EAC Cross Border Trade in Professional Services Bill, 2016 and the EAC Mining Bill, 2016.

There was also no clear information on the implementation of Metrology Standardization Bill and Lake Victoria Transport Bill, among others.

The lawmakers, however, wondered as to why Eala was debating a report for 2016/2017 and wanted reasons for such a long period of delay.

“Where are the reports for 2017/2018, 2018/2019 and 2019/2020?” asked Mr Habib Mohamed Mnyaa from Tanzania.

Mr Christopher Nduwayo, an Eala member from Burundi, called on the EAC secretariat to use the heads of state summit to push for assent to the bills.

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Zephania UbwaniTheCitizenTz [email protected]

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