Opinion

The historical development of the East African community [Part 2]

By Remijo Lasu Peter (MP)

The Court of Justice: The Court comprises ten Judges; two from each member state and with the entrance of South Sudan, the number will increase to twelve. It ensures compliance with the Treaty and correct interpretation and application of the laws of the Community. The court has jurisdiction over disputes between the Community and its employees; and may arbitrate on agreements that the Member States or the Community are party to. The Summit has directed to widen and structure the Court of Justice, to have two chambers, the Court of First Instance and the Appellate Court.

The Assembly

The mandate of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is to oversee all matters related to the Community, these includes: approval of EAC budget; approves the Commissioner; approves the Staff of the Assembly; considers Annual Community Reports and Audit Reports. It can sanction a Partner State; and can decide on the freedom of movement of goods, people, services and capital. It consists of 54 Members; 9 from each Member State. The National Assembly of each Partner State elects, not from among its members, nine members of the Assembly, who shall represent as much as it is feasible, the various political parties represented in the National Assembly, shades of opinion, gender and other special interest groups in that Partner State, in accordance with such procedure as the National Assembly of each Partner State may determine. The budgets for the Member States are passed in one day by their respective parliaments. The tenure of office of elected members shall be five years and be eligible for re-election for a further term of five years.

The Commission:

The functions of the Commission are to administer the implementation of the Treaty; it is the custodian of EAC records; and coordinates and monitors the implementation of Council decisions and directives. The staff comes from the member States who initiates and monitor policies and programs of the Community. This is part of job creation to the member States, to send qualified staff to work in the Secretariat as well as in the rest of the organs of the community.

The advantages and disadvantages of joining the East African Community:

A] The customs union protocol:

The Protocol on the Establishment of the East African Customs Union was signed in March 2004 and came into effect in January 2005. The Customs Union Protocol extends trade liberalization in the region. The main elements of the Protocol are as follows:

1] Removal of Internal Taxes:

The removal of internal taxes on intra-East African Community trade; that means all the member States don’t charge the imported products originating within the East Africa Community, and goods originating from other States outside the East African Community shall be charged uniformly in the same tariff by all the member States.

The disadvantage to this protocol is that, since the production rate in South Sudan is minimal; the State will be predominantly a consumer and a market place for the producing States. The way forward is that South Sudan needs to import electricity power chiefly from Uganda, with the same cost as in Uganda and guarantee peace and security to attract Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) in an effort to produce and sell to the region as well. This will be possible when South Sudan ratifies the Customs Union Protocol and remove taxes including visa fees.

2] Removal of Non-Tariff Barriers:

The non-tariff barriers to Intra-East African Community trade includes: lengthy customs procedures or bureaucratic delays at customs; Inspection procedures; levies; police check points etc. Some non-tariff trade barriers are permitted in very limited circumstances, when they are deemed necessary to protect health, safety and sanitation while others will have a significant impact on foreign-economic activity and foreign trade between States. As a result makes goods expensive to the consumers. The East African Community shall ensure a balanced, orderly, consistent and fair system of taxation; create competition in the market and reduce the cost of prices to the consumers.

3] Agreement on sensitive products:

The Protocol includes an agreement on a list of products classified as sensitive and therefore requiring additional protection. These include green vegetables such as cassava, sweet potatoes, okra, milk, and cabbages which need to be sold faster, because their life span is short.

4] Telecommunication Services:

Telecommunication services shall be uniform, no one will carry multiple sim cards of different networks in the region and it is chief to communicate: on businesses, with friends and with family members across the region with minimal costs, replacing the expensive International calls. Currently, regional networks function everywhere in the region.

5] Circulation of currencies:

Currencies shall be convertible within the member States; currently the South Sudan Pound is convertible in Uganda and in Kenya, though in a law rate, that shows the content of the current economic strength of the State. But in the long run the rate will grow high when South Sudan will be able to produce abundantly.

6] Security arrangement:

Another area of co-operation include security arrangement where there will be both Human Security (personal, food, health) and State security policies and arrangements to combat Complex Emergencies, Rebellions and Coups d’états. No Member State will harbor rebellions and War Lords against a partner State. Any rebellion or Coup d’état shall be handled by the whole region. The region will only believe in development, building strong Democratic Principles, Democratic Institutions and the Rule of Law.

  1. B) The common market protocol:

The common market Protocol was established under Article 76 of the Treaty for establishment of the EAC, 1999 and the primary objective of this protocol is creation of a single internal market, in which there is free movement of goods, labor, services and capital. The freedom created within the regional market shall increase economic efficiency, widen consumer choice, and leads the community to compete in the worldwide markets.

The other elements of the Common Market Protocol includes; Co-ordination of Macroeconomic Policies, Co-operation in Monetary and Fiscal matters, Cooperation in Environment and Natural Resource Management, Combating drug trafficking, Cooperation in Standardization, quality assurance metrology and testing; and Cooperation in East Africa Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight. It gives chance for South Sudan to control its air space and the overhead flight charges.

1] Free Movement of Goods:

The free movement of goods is achieved through removal of internal tariffs and non-tariff barriers. This will enable South Sudan to import electricity power in very minimum charges and enable South Sudan to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), boost its production and collect revenue for building its own electricity power plant. Again since South Sudan is a land locked State, it will benefit from the services through Kenyan and Tanzanian ports.

2] Free Movement of Workers

The rights granted to workers under Articles 16-20 of the Common Market Protocol are to workers and their families. The families’ rights derive from their relationship with the worker. By way of definition, the essential characteristic of a worker is that during a certain period of time he/she performs services for and under direction of another in return for remuneration. The rights only attach to those who perform an activity of an economic nature. The worker and family are entitled to a residence permit which will be valid throughout the territory of the State which issued it. It must be valid for a given period and renewable. It may not be withdrawn from a worker solely on grounds that he/she are no longer in work.

3] Free Movement of Services:

Free movement of services under the Customs Union Protocol includes free movement of people within the region without Visa fee; the citizens of the Partner States traveling within the region may use either the East Africa Community Passport or National Identity Cards or any other document from Chiefs, Local Councils (LCs) etc. But some of services like: health, road transport, telecommunications and air transport may have few restrictions.

4] Free Movement of Capital:

In the context of cooperation under the East Africa Community, there is a need to liberalize the flow of capital in the region. Exchange rates in the Community are determined by the market and all currencies shall be convertible. There shall be no restrictions between the Partner States on the movement of capital based on the nationality or on the place of residence of the parties or on the place where such capital is invested.

The disadvantages to this free movement of people are as follows: there will be porous borders for cross border crimes; free movement of thieves, robbers, sex workers, diseases, free movement of counterfeit products, dumping of waste products which could be harmful to the environment and, depletion of forests due to growing population. This need South Sudan enacts better policies and laws to counter such threats. States such as Uganda and Kenya with a population growth rate of one million per a year would get it a chance for its citizens to migrate into the region.

Environment protection:

Finally, there is a concern for protection, preservation and improvement of the quality of the environment so that it contributes towards the protection of human health while securing prudent and rational utilization of natural resources, ratification of the damages at source and reparation for the damages caused by the polluter and the destroyer.

The author is a Member of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly representing Constituency no.13, Morobo County. He can be reached via email: p.lasu@yahoo.co.uk

 

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