A section of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) members have rejected a proposal by the EAC Committee on Fiscal Affairs (CFA) to reduce the number of MPs from each partner state from nine to five.
The CFA is a sub-committee of the Council of Ministers that handles finance and administration of the East African Community (EAC).
The CFA, which meets under the Sectoral Council on Finance and Economic Affairs (SCFEA), proposed the reduction of the number of MPs in a move to reduce the budget.
But in a quick rejoinder, EALA MPs, led by their Budget Committee, General Purpose Committee chairperson Denis Namara from Uganda, have termed the proposal unrealistic.
“First of all it is in bad faith because those who have proposed are members of CFA. These are people from partner states and they are from ministries. They have no powers to meddle in the issues of the EAC Integration,” he said.
“The Summit has not given anyone powers. Even the Council of Ministers cannot propose amendments to the Treaty unless the Summit gives them a directive.”
He termed the move an attempt to muzzle the voice of the Assembly.
“This is intended to blackmail the Assembly because they know the Assembly has been given powers to oversight; it is very tough on the secretariat; it is tough on institutions. It is also fighting corruption and bribery. So they are trying to fight the Assembly by threatening that they are going to reduce their numbers,” Mr Namara added.
Kenya’s EALA MP Abdikadir Aden termed the move malicious.
“I have seen claims that it is costly to run EALA. It is absolute fabrication. I chaired the budget committee and the amount allocated to EALA is only a fraction of the total EAC budget,” said Aden.
“EALA takes away a very small portion of the total EAC budget. When the community’s budget is at $110 million, EALA is about $16 million and now it is $13 million, we are talking of a percentage of less than 16 at any given time.”
He said one of the successes attributed to the EAC made by other regional bodies is because it has a very vibrant legislative organ.
“It is ridiculous, unrealistic and ill intended. EAC is one of the best models of regional cooperation in Africa,” said Aden.
“Any attempt to weaken the legislative arm of the EAC is aimed at nothing other than undermining the progress achieved by this community.”
The EALA model has only 54 MPs now made up of nine MPs each from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan. With the imminent entrance of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the number is likely to rise to 63 MPs.