The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA yesterday unanimously passed a vote of appreciation to the government for adding Swahili as one of its official languages.
Kiswahili has been fronted as the language of identity within the East African Community (EAC), with key symbols of integration like the bloc’s anthem in the language.
“Rwanda passed a draft law granting the addition that the Swahili language becomes another of its official languages. We applaud government on that and we hope it will receive a positive response from Parliament,” Shy Rose Bhanji an EALA member from Tanzania said to applause from the House.
Legislator after legislator had earlier countered remarks by Kenya’s EALA member Abubakar Abdi Ogle who said that Swahili should only be used in the market, at funerals or political rallies.
Uganda’s EAC affairs Minister, Julius Wandera Maganda said that his government has stepped up efforts in having all teachers re-tooled to effectively teach Swahili in schools.
Meanwhile, Rwanda’s minister of Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs, François Kanimba was yesterday sworn-in as an Ex-Officio Member of EALA.
Kanimba replaced Valentine Rugwabiza who in October last year moved to New York as Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
He took the Oath of Allegiance to the EAC Treaty, before the EALA Speaker Dan Kidega, in accordance with Rule 5 of the rules of procedure of the assembly.
The rules of procedure say in part that: “No Member can sit or participate in the proceedings of the House until the Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance to the Treaty is taken.”
While opening the assembly on Tuesday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni called on EAC governments to reduce imports from foreign nations, emphasising that its better when foreign companies are forced to open shop in EAC partner states in order to boost trade.
“If there is wealth of the East African region, which many do not talk about often – this is the population of the region. It is one of the most important factors given that it has 162 million people, including Republic of South Sudan,” President Museveni said, urging the region to take advantage of its population which he termed a resource for the EAC.
He suggested a “Make EAC, Buy EAC” initiative in order to protect jobs and stimulate investments in the market.