Friday, February 11, 2011



By Bobi T. Odiko

Corporate and Communications Department

EALA, Arusha, Tanzania

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is perturbed by an article titled: “The EAC needs Autonomy from Regional Politics” recently authored by seasoned journalist and media analyst, Jerry Okungu. The said article dated Wednesday, February 2, 2011 was published in the online edition of the Africa News and in the New Vision Newspaper, on 3rd February, 2011 headed: What is the EAC dragging its Feet?

In the article, the writer states that, at the recent third meeting of the fourth session of the second Assembly, held in Nairobi, Kenya on January 24, 2011 to February 4, 2011, the matter of the EAC Secretary General came up for debate. He goes on to further say that “the Speaker and the Clerk of the Regional Assembly would have known that the post of Secretary General was not open to debate either by National Assemblies or EALA, because the Treaty is clear and that it is rotational and the prerogative of the Summit Members to make such an appointment”. According to Mr. Okungu, the debate thus opened a genuine weakness within the EAC structure.

EALA wishes to correct the false impression as stated by the article because it is not based on any facts, nor does it indeed portray what transpired in Nairobi during the sessions. At no time, did the issue of the Secretary General come up for debate in the August House as Mr. Okungu depicts. It is not clear from where the author derives the information. The particular section of the article as authored by Mr. Okungu not only misses important and vital points, but has been viewed at this end as rather a direct attack and an affront on the integrity and capacity of the two offices to steer the Assembly correctly.

For Mr Okungu’s information, the Speaker and Clerk of the Assembly
are indeed up to the task and their mandate as per the Treaty and on that basis, are aware of what type of business to put to the House for debate. It is our humble advice that Mr Okungu sticks to where his competencies are strongest and that he consults with the offices when in doubt.

EALA states that the sessions were open to the public and the press to attend and report. The programme of deliberations and the Order Papers were disseminated to the media and official press releases dispatched to the media houses at the close of the sessions. EALA also held a press conference on the opening day of the session where it expounded on the matters before the House. None of the above indicated that the issue of the next Secretary General was up for debate.

It is possible that the press may have on the sidelines of the meeting, indeed, interviewed the Hon. Speaker or any other Hon. Member of EALA to get their views on the current discussions concerning the post of the EAC Secretary General. But the position of EALA is and has always been that the post of the Secretary General is rotational and that the Summit has the say on the matter as stipulated under Article 67 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. In fact, the Hon. Speaker said as much, at the Breakfast Show hosted by Citizen Television, one of Kenya’s leading TV stations on Tuesday, February 1, 2011 and in a number of other interviews the Speaker held.

It is important for the media to be objective in its reporting on this matter as in all others. Had Mr. Okungu participated in the sessions or reached out to interview the Hon Speaker, Clerk or any other Hon. Member, all of whom were accessible, then he would have steered clear of the temerity to publish the lop-sided content.

Looking through the rest of the paragraphs of the said article, a number of inconsistencies and inaccurate statements about the EAC generally and the Common Market in particular also stand out that need correction.

EALA would like to challenge the writer to clarify the matter and correct the false impression created and to report objectively on the matter now and in future.