Press Statement by Rt. Hon. Margaret Nantongo Zziwa – Speaker EALA
Ladies & Gentlemen of the Press
I welcome you to the media briefing convened here today – the first since my election as the Speaker of the 3rd East African Legislative Assembly.
On behalf of the Assembly and on my own behalf, allow me to salute His Excellency, Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, the Government and the citizens of Uganda for the warm support accorded to EALA throughout the tenure of the 2nd Assembly. EALA appreciates the wise and able leadership of President Museveni in steering Uganda and the EAC to greater heights.
I wish to thank the EALA Members for duly electing me as their Speaker and in the regard, bestowing confidence in me. I wish to reiterate that I shall strive to serve all East Africans with dedication and commitment and based on the ethos Our Unity is our Pillar (Umoja Wetu ni Nguzo Yetu).
Permit me to also thank my sponsoring Party, NRM for encouraging competition particularly that of women in its cadre to contest the Speakership of the regional Assembly. This is attributed to good leadership and support of the Chairman, H.E. Yoweri Museveni.
I also want to thank all Assemblies in the Partner States for the due process of electing new Members to the Assembly. The process in all Partner States was by far, the most competitive in the history of the Assembly in recent times thus reflecting upon the growing stature of EALA. We applaud the fact that the handover to the 3rd Assembly was very smooth and devoid of challenges.
Like I mentioned during my campaigns, my leadership shall be in consultation with the Members and various stakeholders in order to steer the integration process forward. The goodwill of the EAC Summit requires strong Organs to deliver. EALA has an important mandate in the integration dispensation to oversee legislation, oversight and representative functions. As the legislative Assembly, we are poised and capable of ensuring we realize the objectives of the Community.
My vision for the Assembly is to consolidate on the gains of the second Assembly that performed tremendously well. Over and above that, under my watch:
- EALA shall strive to continue to enact relevant legislation
- EALA shall sustain its advocacy on the benefits of integration to the citizens of the region through increased awareness
- Hold the Council of Ministers and other stakeholders on account to ensure we remain on track with the decisions and passed legislation
- Uphold the gains of the 2nd Assembly under the Speaker Emeritus Rt. Hon Abdirahin Abdi, while exploring avenues of resolving existing challenges. Some of the successes include: enactment of 36 pieces of legislation, bringing the Assembly closer to the people by institutionalizing rotational Sittings in the Partner States and increased and focused oversight of programs and projects to ensure the Community remains on track.
- Remain independent, strong and true to the ideals of East Africans.
It is important to note that the laws enacted by the EAC have the full force of law and take precedence over similar laws in the Partner States on matters related to the Community.
The first Assembly was keen on institutional set-up while the 2nd Assembly took the Assembly to the people through awareness creation. I hope that we can take it to the next level and enable citizens to fully identify with the EAC. Here we are looking at changing perceptions, branding and the aspirations of our people. It is important for citizens to look, feel and think ‘East African’. This is my rallying call but one that we can only achieve in tandem with all cadres of persons across board.
There is need for buy-in so that citizens meet their aspirations in the Common Market Protocol as well as in smoothening the path for the Monetary Union and the Political Federation. During my tenure as Speaker, I shall work tirelessly to ensure the Monetary Union and the Political Federation become a reality.
EALA is also cognizant of the outstanding challenges the Community is grappling with. Such include the bottlenecks faced in doing business including Non-Tariff Barriers, challenges of implementing the integration pillars and the slow-uptake of the agenda of the EAC in the national policy networks. We shall continue collaborating with all the Council of Ministers and other stakeholders and in carrying out of our mandate as stipulated by the Treaty to ensure the economic bloc is strengthened.
While in Uganda over the next few days, I shall be meeting various stakeholders as I begin to lay my strategy for the Assembly. I am proud to note that we have already rolled up our sleeves and commenced work.
Immediately after the swearing in last week, the Assembly nominated and approved Members to the House Business Committee as well as:
- The Committee on Accounts
- The Committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges
- The Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources
- The Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution
- The Committee on Communications, Trade and Investment
- The Committee on General Purpose
EALA Members were privileged to be inducted and orientated by the Institute for Regional Integration and Development (IRID) on the procedures and modalities of work. We learned about the workings of the EAC and its respective Organs and Institutions as well as the processes of legislation in order to arm us with the necessary tools to effectively carry out our work.
During the first week of July 2012, we shall undergo our planning to come up with a calendar of activities.
Finally, I appeal to the media as the Fourth Estate to follow and cover our proceedings during this period and to disseminate the necessary information to the various publics thus propagating the regional integration process.
I thank you for listening to me.
June 12, 2012
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