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The East African : Nov 3rd 2014
The EastAfrican 20 OPINION NOVEMBER 1-7,2014 PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY THE NATION MEDIA GROUP EALA must end unseemly squabbling There is growing concern that the current members of the East African Legislative Assembly are losing their focus by engaging in trivial personality clashes that could be detrimental to its crucial mandate as an organ of the community. The continuing push by some members to remove Speaker Margaret Zziwa that began in March, is now threatening to overshadow the key role of the Assembly in the regional economic integration process. It is worrying that the campaign to oust the Speaker shows no signs of ending; when the Speaker, who is the overall head of the Assembly, is targeted, there is a danger that various functions will be affected. The regional legislature’s core functions are legislating, oversight and representation. It is needed to enact legislation to consolidate the Customs Union and the Common Market as well as the realisation of the monetary union and ultimately, the political federation. The basic interest of the 140 million people of East Africa is to realise tangible benefits from cross-border trade and investment opportunities and the Assembly is the best organ to take the lead in this by deeds and actions. It is the only organ where all partner states have equal representation with the mandate to discuss issues affecting the Community. Some members accuse the Speaker of nepotism, favouritism and abuse of office, but these issues can be addressed by relevant institutions without interrupting operations. Worse, they seem to have emanated from internal problems within the Uganda Chapter, raising the risk of the whole affair being perceived as an inter-chapter feud. It is within their right to seek to profession- alise the institution of the Speaker and make the Assembly more effective and beneficial to the region, but with the differences having taken on a personal dimension, the mandate of the Assembly is being derailed. There is a need to harmonise the process through which the members are elected to the Assembly in all the five member states. After the First Assembly put together the guidelines and objectives of the regional parliament’s work, and the Second Assembly implemented them, the Third Assembly should be guiding the integration process at every step. Admittedly, the East African Legislative Assembly as an institution is still relatively young compared with those in oldr economic blocs, and it is still struggling to find its footing regarding its role as an organ of the Community. Still, the squabbles are likely to overshadow some key legislation it has already prepared and passed, such as the Bills relating to non-tariff barriers, work permit and border posts. It is time the Assembly turned its attention to implanting its Strategic Plan 2013 – 2018. A PUBLICATION OF THE NATION MEDIA GROUP LINUS GITAHI: Chief Executive Officer TOM MSHINDI: Acting Editorial Director PAMELLA SITTONI: Managing Editor Nation Centre, Kimathi Street, P.O. Box 49010-00100 G.P.O. Nairobi. Tel. 3288000, 2221222, 337710, Fax 214531, 213946. E-mail: email@example.com © Nation Media Group Compaore’s fate has revived the debate about why leaders cling to the job.” Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo A fter 27 years as president, most regular politicians would be satisfied. Rarely so in Africa. The latest Big Man to try to amend the Constitution to change term limits and allow him stand again is Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaore. His attempt to extend his 27-year rule exploded in angry protests on Thursday, with rampaging protestors setting parliament and the ruling party headquarters on fire. They ran- The ‘Africa Rising’ hype has left young people confused and angry that they aren’t sharing in it sacked the state TV, and also torched some MPs’ houses. Dozens of soldiers also joined the protest. The government resorted to Twitter to announce that it was calling off the bid to amend the Constitution. At week’s end, late breaking news indicated that Compaore had resigned. P≥esidents stay in powe≥ to stay out of the t≥a∞c Although he worked hard to rein- vent himself as a regional statesman, as African strongmen come and go, Compaore was one of a kind. He was the only serving leader on the con- tinent who killed a close friend and predecessor for the job. In 1987, Compaore masterminded the assassination of his buddy and president, the charismatic Capt Thomas Sankara. Compaore’s fate has revived the old debate about why African leaders cling to the job so desperately even after being in it for decades. The common argument is that they are greedy for power and want to continue “eating.” But even that is hard to believe, because a corrupt president who cannot steal enough over 20 years doesn’t deserve the job. In my more flippant moments, I think the only compelling reasons for a president to seek to grow old in the presidency are the traffic jams. After sitting in the traffic for four hours on a journey that would ordinarily take 14 minutes, I really envy presidents when they fly past with sirens and outriders clearing us plebian motorists out of the way so they can get through. That is a perk worth having. In any event, overstaying their welcome has brought presidents like Compaore to a complex pass. These Ou≥ kings have no clothes, so why this UN cove≥-up? Ki-moon was here, accompanied by the World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, together with the African Union Commission’s deputy chair, senior representatives from the African Development Bank, the executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. And even the senior representatives of the Islamic Bank. Their collective purpose? The UN A SG was ostensibly to launch a global anti-female genital mutilation campaign. About which next to nothing was reported, beyond basic statistics. And, together, the multilaterals were pledging about $8 billion towards the Horn of Africa Initiative. About which also next to nothing was reported beyond a visit to Dabaab refugee camp for the first-hand emotionally moving experience enabling reiteration of the obvious: That “development” is contingent upon peace and security. For the government of Kenya, no doubt a satisfying endorsement of the executive’s legitimacy. And Kenya’s return to its role as a respectable anchor state. Not to be marred in any shape or form by references to “neocolonialism” and “Western imperialism.” The UN and the Bank are multilaterals to which we belong. The African multilaterals are ours in an ll roads led to Kenya this past week. At least for the multilaterals. United Nations Secretary-General Ban even deeper sense. All of which can be expected to understand the havoc that refugees — particularly from Somalia — have wrought with our own security, our vegetation cover and our water table. And thus the need for them to all go back “home.” So why then did the whole visit feel more than a little surreal? Like so many versions of the emperor having no clothes? The endorsement of our executive’s legitimacy? The Supreme Court’s decision on the presidential petitions may have been accepted. But that acceptance has not erased all the questions posed within those petitions. Especially in light of the recently released audit of the same by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. Kenya as a respectable anchor state? The African Union Mission in Somalia may have recovered territory from Al Shabaab. But that hasn’t prevented Kenyan troops from being continually implicated in enabling the continued arming and financing of Al Shabaab through the charcoal trade — even in reports as recent as this past week. Loss of territory doesn’t mean that Somalia is safe for refugees to return to. The idea that the government of Somalia has effective control over its territory is a fig leaf. As for Igad’s mediation of the South Sudanese conflict, not a single ceasefire or cessation of hostilities days, despite the small setback of Ebola and some stubborn conflicts that refuse to go away, Africa is still considered the happening continent; the next exciting economic frontier. Now previously wonkish things like rebasing economies have become the flavour of the day as countries announce that their economies have become bigger with balloons and lights. Yet, clutches of recent reports, in- cluding one by Oxfam, have noted that inequality is growing as Africa mints more billionaires. In a country like Burkina Faso, nearly 65 per cent of the population is under 25 years of age, with no opportunities. It would seem the cacophony of “Africa Rising” is producing a new set of expectations, and leaving the continent’s army of young people confused and angry that they are not sharing in it. Yet, you cannot be a serious African country or chieftain today without a prosperity story, mineral resources in your soil that you brag about, and a rebased economy. Bragging rights have never been more costly. Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo is edito≥ of Mail & Gua≥dian Af≥ica (mgaf≥ica.com). Twitte≥:@cobbo3 It was a satisfying endorsement of the executive’s legitimacy.” L. Muthoni Wanyeki agreement has held. The GoK may be clear as to what needs, rationally, to happen for the mediation to progress. But it’s been completely unable — to date — to ensure that it does. Calls for Uganda to remove its troops are undone by the Government of South Sudan’s military co-operation agreement with the country. The GoK has no position on this. As for neo-colonialism and West- ern imperialism, not a whiff of those allegations from the GoK. But those allegations certainly underscored the just-released proposed amendment to the Public Benefits Organisations Act that all PBOs receiving more than 15 per cent of its budget from external grantmakers must declare themselves as “foreign agents.” Fig leafs and myths. The emperors in the region truly have no clothes. And last week’s visit in the end, did nothing but place a stamp of approval on that unity. So much for the multilaterals. L. Muthoni Wanyeki is the Amnesty Inte≥national’s Regional Di≥ecto≥ fo≥ East Af≥ica, cove≥ing East Af≥ica, the Ho≥n and the G≥eat Lakes.
Oct 27th 2014
Nov 10th 2014