EAC top organs in recruitment row

KIGALI - Barely months after the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and the bloc’s Secretariat publicly clashed over the suspension of the legislative session, the two organs have again disagreed over recruitment of staff at the assembly.
L-R :  EALA Speaker Abdirahin Abdi; EAC minister Monique Mukaruliza
L-R : EALA Speaker Abdirahin Abdi; EAC minister Monique Mukaruliza

KIGALI - Barely months after the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and the bloc’s Secretariat publicly clashed over the suspension of the legislative session, the two organs have again disagreed over recruitment of staff at the assembly.

The misunderstandings mainly stem from a U-turn by the Secretariat on three senior positions earlier on approved by both the legislative and administrative organs.

According to a strongly worded letter by EALA Speaker, Abdirahin Abdi, a copy of which The New Times has obtained, the assembly is contesting a decision by the Council of Ministers to re-advertise the positions even after the assembly had endorsed that the applicants to be appointed to the posts. 

“The Assembly would like to know on what basis the Secretariat was directed to re-advertise the positions of clerk and Deputy Clerk. These positions are not for the Secretariat but for another distinct organ of the Community--the Assembly,” the Speaker’s letter reads in part.

The development has once again put both organs in the spotlight for lack of cohesion and common understanding as recommended by an EAC Strategy Retreat for key organs and institutions which was called by the EAC Chairperson President Paul Kagame last year.

EALA insists that the Council was wrongly advised by the Counsel to the Community (CTC) on re-advertising the positions, although some EAC officials claimed the Assembly only wants to usurp the powers of the Secretariat.

“Much as it is independent, EALA has no autonomy to recruit staff.  Secondly, the CTC is required by the EAC treaty to give advisory opinion to different organs of the Community. If he found it fit to do so, his decision was based on factual reasons,” said an EAC official who preferred anonymity.

The Assembly has also demanded that its position be tabled before the next Council of Ministers meeting scheduled to sit this month in Arusha, Tanzania.

An EAC senior official contacted yesterday described the misunderstandings between the two organs as ‘unfortunate’, adding that it would be sad for the two organs to finally seek an advisory opinion from the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) on an issue like that.

“It is a cold war that has been on for sometime between those organs. The Kigali retreat provided a way forward in terms of inter-organ relationship but it is surprising that this still persists,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Contacted for a comment yesterday, EAC Affairs Minister and Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers, Monique Mukaruliza, said that the contentious issue is not on the agenda of regional bloc’s policy-making organ.

“That item is not on the agenda but may be discussed in the Council meeting if it not addressed in other forums that precede the Council, like the Inter-organs meeting scheduled for 12th November, 2009,” Mukaruliza said.

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