EAST African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has revolved to have the East African Community (EAC) member states accelerating harmonisation of laws, policies, curricula and certifications to equally treat the region’s citizens.
The EALA members passed the resolution after receiving and debating a report on sensitisation activities in partner states, themed: ‘EAC Integration Agenda: Accessing the Gains.
Under Speaker Dan Kidega, members from the five countries adopted, with few amendments, the general recommendations put before them by the team that issued the joint report after each country had compiled its anecdote.
The members of the report compilation team are Tanzania’s Nderakindo Kessy, Kenya’s Judith Pareno, Ugandan Chris Opaka-Okumu and Ms Patricia Hajabakiga of Rwanda.
Moving the motion in the House, Ms Hajabakiga argued that a conclusion was needed on the report annex regarding the harmonisation and mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications. The EALA called for the synchronisation of immigration laws in all partner states in terms of work permits and free movement of persons.
“There is need to provide similar Certificate of Origin at all EAC custom border posts to ease trade and avoid forgeries. Let the Summit of Heads of State upgrade Kiswahili as one of the EAC official languages,” she said.
The MP further underscored the need to address fear of loss of employment through deliberate measures like facilitation of skilful nationals in Kiswahili, English and French languages to take up teaching positions in the needy partner states and develop specific programmes for unskilled labour and small and medium entrepreneurs.
“We have to develop an EAC strategy for development of skills and competitiveness to boost productivity through vocational training, science and technology as well as expedite harmonisation of curricula and certification across the region,” said Ms Hajabakiga.
EALA Chapters met and discussed with each member state’s stakeholders, including members of the media, local government authorities, learning institutions, private sector, women and youth councils, civil societies, members of parliament, border communities, governments’ institutions, high level dignitaries in governments, embassies and some ministries.
The exercise emanated from a policy guidance by the EAC Summit and the decision of the EALA Commission to reach out to people of East Africa as part of their representatives and in accordance with EALA’s people-centred strategic plan, 2013-2018.
In Burundi, stakeholders raised concerns over the sour relationship between some states, demanding the adoption of French and Kiswahili as the EAC official languages and claiming that Burundians were ill-treated when seeking to cross borders.
They therefore asked for full and effective implementation of the Common Market Protocol. Kenya received accolades for its Department of Immigration and Registration of People doing all it could to enhance EAC integration and for issuance of work permit to EAC citizens.
Harmonisation of national laws, policies and systems to allow smooth implementation of community legal instruments and mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications were cited as serious challenges in Rwanda.