The East African Community Whistleblowers Bill, 2016, is among nine draft laws EAC parliament is set to discuss and finalise as it was not completed when the third Assembly wound business last June.
The East African Legislative Assembly, now sitting in Arusha, Tanzania, on Wednesday, set the ball rolling by passing a related resolution moved by MP Amb Fatuma Ndangiza (Rwanda).
Lawmakers approved the move, underlining the importance of helping the region fight graft.
MP Aden Abdikadir (Kenya) said: “The Whistleblowers Bill is a very important piece of legislation that will be helpful in the event that there is anything out there that needs to be put in the light as regards the misuse of public funds.”
At the time of expiration of the term of the third Assembly in June, 2017, there were nine Bills that had been introduced in the Assembly which were not passed due to the expiration of the term of the third Assembly, said Ndangiza, Chair of the Assembly’s Legal Rules and Privileges Committee.
Her motion was for a resolution to save, retain and continue work on the pending Bills, in the fourth Assembly.
Recalling that no work of the second Assembly was carried forward, MP Susan Nakawuki (Uganda), who was in the third Assembly, said continuation work on the Bills is “a noble cause” given the importance attached to all the Bills.
She added: “The Assembly spent a lot of money working on these Bills. Members of civil society, during our consultations, highlighted very many important issues and I would like to request that we work on them and conclude the work. In that way, we will be doing good for the people of East Africa.”
Without guaranteeing the availability and safety of whistleblowers, MP Simon Mbugua (Kenya) said, “we won’t ably know about the bad things happening in EAC. We need whistleblowers protected.”
Some partner states – including Rwanda – have a whistleblower’s law. The corruption perception index of 2017, released by Transparency International, indicates that graft remains a major challenge in the region. A regional Whistleblowers Act, it is hoped, will go a long way in enabling the region to further and jointly fight corruption.
Other Bills being considered by the fourth Assembly include: the Retirement Benefits for Specified Heads of Organs Bill, 2016; the Sexual and Reproductive Health Bill, 2016; the Trade Negotiations (Repeal) Bill, 2014; the Youth Council Bill, 2017; and the Mining Bill, 2016.