Regional assembly decries failure by leaders to assent to Bills

Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) have decried failure by the regional presidents to assent to Bills passed by the House.

“We appeal to our Heads of State to assent to the pending Bills because they are critical to the people of East Africa,” pleaded Tanzanian lawmaker Shy-Rose Bhanji.

She spoke during a debate on the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) project that the regional Parliament was increasingly getting concerned by the trend and wants something done to rectify the situation.

According to Ms Bhanji, there were at least 22 Bills which have been passed by Eala in recent years but were yet to be assented to by the presidents of the five partner states of the East African Community (EAC).

Among them is the EAC OSBP Bill which MPs who spoke during the presentation of the project said was delayed in implementation, especially completion of the structures that are being built in key border areas across the region.

READ: Fast-track one-stop border posts, urges EALA

Other Bills include the EAC Vehicle Load Control Act, 2013, the EAC Customs Management Act and the EAC Non-Tarrif Barrier (NTB) Bill 2015, among others.

Ms Hafsa Mossi, an Eala member from Burundi, said the delay in assenting to the Bills has raised concerns on the commitment of the governments of the member countries to regional integration.

According to the Chairperson of Eala Committee on the Legal, Rules and Privileges, Peter Mathuki from Kenya, some member countries sat on the Bills sent to them for assent for long periods resulting in some getting lapsed.

The outspoken legislator has been pushing for an amendment in the EAC Treaty so that any partner state delaying to assent to a Bill without valid reasons is taken to task.

According to the Treaty, a Bill that has not received assent within three months from the date it was passed by the Assembly shall be referred back to the Assembly giving reasons and with a request that the Bill or a particular provision thereof be reconsidered by the legislators.     

This story was first published on The Citizen