Sebalu said members need to look at the supranational because there are more benefits for all EAC than the ones offered by individual, isolated and fragmented nations.
PIC: Former East Africa Legislative Assembly member Mike Sebalu (right) and EALA principal clerk assistant Charles Ngeleja Kadonya after the orientation address at Parliament at Parliament Thursday.(Maria Wamala)
EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY | EALA INDUCTION
KAMPALA - Former East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) legislator Mike Sebalu has urged the 4th EALA members to emphasise East African Community (EAC) spirit over nationalism and sovereignty of individual member states.
As a former EALA member and chairperson of the regional affairs and conflict resolution committee, Sebalu said, Sovereignty is killing EALA.
We are so comfortable protecting our poverty, backwardness, under development, all in the name of sovereignty. Good ideas keep coming and we retreat in our conclaves in sovereignty, killing brilliant ideas." Sebalu said in his address during their orientation at Parliament.
He added that members need to look at the supranational because at that, there are more benefits for all EAC than the ones offered by individual, isolated and fragmented nations.
"Think about East Africa with a market of 250 million, 170 million buyers. If you go out there to engage with any super power and you talk about a market of 170 million, no one can ignore you, but they can afford to ignore Uganda with a market of 40 million people." Sebalu said, adding that the bigger the market the stronger the bargaining power.
Sebalu said petty nationalism has no place in modern society where globalisation is at the front.
"When you see rich countries coming together under the European Union, know that you you poor countries should have done that yesterday because these are big nations uniting to enhance their privileged positions to isolate you in your disadvantaged position," he said.
Aden Omar Abdikadir, an EALA member (Kenya), said East African countries as a region have come together, made a decision to go the EAC federation, step by step ending with the political East Africa federation.
"Time has come to let go the issue of over sensitivity of sovereignty and petty nationalism. We want to have this. Let us go for it. In Kiswahili, we have saying that translates into: He who is decides to always cover his private parts will never have an opportunity to give birth. When will we ever give birth to the true EAC if we do not let go of petty nationalism and sovereignty?" Aden said.
He added the each EALA member is an ambassador of their respective countries.
"Sometimes there might be misconceptions about EAC and its opportunities back in our capitals, including Nairobi. It is then upon me to go back to Nairobi and convince Nairobi that we must let go of this issue of petty nationalism and sovereignty," Aden said.
Another EALA challenge Sebalu said is high political mortality.
"These term limits in EALA do not help an institution of that nature to grow. Legislators should be allowed to offer themselves as long as the people still have confidence in them." Sebalu said, adding that that denies EALA institutional memory.
Also, Sebalu said that high technical mortality is hurting the assembly as staff is only allowed to serve for 10 years.
"It is not easy to build technical staff capacity to the desirable levels. You lose five technical staff at ago; filling that gap is not easy. In all our national parliaments, the members of staff are permanent and pensionable. That is why they have built that level of capacity." he said.
Sebalu explained that such massive exits affect the capacity of the assembly because the new staff cannot immediately develop the level of capacity that is built from experience and exposure.
"The other integrating parliaments such as the EU are doing it. Their staff enjoys a good range of time in terms of building capacity. It is not easy. People go out in delegations and pick on best practices." Sebalu said, adding that it is a weakness both at plenary and committee stage.
Somalia to join EAC
To East African Community deputy secretary general finance and administration, Jesca Eriyo, said to address the challenge of terrorism, piracy in the sea, good neighborhood and ensure that the community works within the available resources, the East African summit resolved that Somalia be brought on board.
"We are supposed to send a team to go and assess. But before dispatching the team, they wrote to the Somalia government that they were sending a team so that they can advise on when to send the team and also guarantee the team's security, but Somalia has kept quiet." Eriyo said.