The First Instance Division of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) overruled the objections of the EAC Secretary General, Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera, blocking former regional Assembly Speaker, Margaret Zziwa, from giving evidence in her case without seeking leave of the Assembly.
Zziwa, still serving as a lawmaker in the regional parliament, was censured as Speaker end last year after two thirds of the 45 members, accused her of poor governance and leadership skills, abuse of office, in addition to disrespect and intimidation of MPs and House staff among other things.
In her case versus the Secretary General, she alleges that the process of her censure was illegal and an infringement of Articles 53 and 56 of the Treaty for the establishment of the EAC.
In its last week’s ruling Court said that, it would be premature to adjudge the Applicant’s evidence and prevent her from testifying in her matter, according to a court statement.
Following the ruling, Court went further and re-scheduled the matter for hearing on November 18 and 19.
Case on expulsion of the Rwandans from Tanzania
Meanwhile, the same Court also last week heard a matter against the Secretary General concerning the alleged failure to take action in implementation of the Council’s directive to Tanzania and Rwanda to resolve the issue of the Rwandan citizens who were expelled from Tanzania’s Kagera region in 2013.
The Applicant, the East African Law Society (EALS), represented by their lawyer Prof. Fredrick Sempebwa, submitted that the Secretary General’s failure to comply with the Council’s decision was a breach of the EAC Treaty.
Prof. Sempebwa contended that the citizens expelled from Tanzania are citizens of a Member State of the Community and therefore infringes the Treaty because they are entitled to the right of residence and the right of establishment and other rights within the Treaty and the Common Market Protocol of the Community.
He said it was the duty of the Secretary General to carryout investigations and find out the truth of breach of the Treaty.
The lawyer is seeking for remedies if the Court rules in favor of the Applicant.
But Dr. Anthony Kafumbe Counsel to the Community representing the Respondent submitted that, the matter is time barred because it occurred in August 2013 and the case was filed on September 8, 2015 which is beyond two months time limit to file the case.
Dr. Kafumbe said the decision being contested about is a decision directed to the Partner States, Tanzania and Rwanda, but not directed to the Secretary General.
He added that Article 16 of the Treaty Partner States have an obligation to implement directives of the Council, so it does not require the Secretary General once the directive is issued.
The matter is still before the Council of Ministers expecting to be deliberated on in the upcoming Council meeting.