The East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers has appointed 31 East Africans – including six Rwandans – to various positions at the EAC Secretariat.
This comes after conclusion of the 35th meeting of the Council at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, which started end last month and concluded last week.
A statement said the Council appointed three members of staff to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), one to the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), four officers to the Lake Victoria Basin Commission, one officer each to the East African Science and Technology Commission, and the East African Health Research Commission.
“The appointments to the Secretariat will address a biting staff shortage at the Secretariat which was occasioned by the departure of 26 members of staff due to retirement, either on attaining the mandatory retirement age of 60 years or the expiry of their contracts,” reads the EAC statement.
“The appointments were made after interviews conducted by the EAC Ad Hoc Service Commission, which draws Commissioners from Public Service Commissions in the Partner States.”
The Council resolved that the appointments take effect from April 4, 2017 and directed the Secretariat to conduct due diligence for the successful candidates before confirmation of their appointments.
The Council further directed the EAC Secretariat to ensure that an induction programme is conducted before the appointed staff assume office.
The appointees include Kenneth Apollo Bagamuhunda as the Director General, Customs and Trade to replace Peter Kiguta who retired on December 1, 2016. Bagamuhunda was previously the Director of Customs at the Secretariat.
Kamugisha Kazaura is the new Director of Infrastructure, replacing Philip Wambugu whose contract expired on February 1, 2017.
Professional staff at the EAC are recruited on a five-year term, renewable once, and subject to a mandatory retirement age of 60 years.
During the third EALA’s last sitting in Kigali last month, regional lawmakers feared that contracts for senior staff of the Community were expiring and no replacements had been recruited, a situation they feared would jeopardise activities at the bloc’s headquarters.
During their last plenary, EALA adopted a resolution by MP Susan Nakawuki (Uganda) urging the Council of Ministers to show the Assembly interim measures to address the impending staffing gap.
Among others, lawmakers also wanted the Council to devise a recruitment policy for the Community.
Meanwhile, the Council also considered amendment of the EAC Treaty to include Kiswahili as one of the official languages of the Community.
The Council then directed Partner States to formulate national Kiswahili language policies and enhance the use of Kiswahili in official domains as well as initiate the process of institutionalisation of Kiswahili as one of the EAC official languages through the establishment of National Kiswahili Councils and National Kiswahili Associations.
Last August, EALA passed a resolution urging the EAC Summit to amend the Treaty to provide for Kiswahili as one of the official languages of the Community.
Adopting Kiswahili as the second official language within the region, seen as a step towards uniting the people of the region.