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REJOINDER

CLARIFICATION OF ISSUES REPORTED IN THE EASTAFRICAN NEWSPAPER, 4TH – 10TH JULY, 2020 EDITION

East African Community Secretariat, Arusha, 7th July, 2020: The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat takes great exception to gross factual errors of misrepresentation and misinformation appearing in the lead article in the current edition of The EastAfrican newspaper.

At the outset, we wish to state that we have a lot of respect for The EastAfrican, which serves the regional audience by highlighting, among other things, the EAC integration process.

However, the Secretariat wishes to clarify the issues appearing in the article titled “No salaries for EAC MPs as Burundi, South Sudan face exit” the 4th – 10th July, 2020 edition of the newspaper as follows.  

First, the newspaper reports that EAC employees whose renewable contracts ended would no longer be allowed to perform their duties having been declared persona non grata at the Community. This is not true because staff members with renewable contracts are free to access the EAC offices even as they carry out their duties while awaiting the renewal of their contracts by the Council. Some of the staff members are also working from home, which has been the practice in most workplaces all over the world since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The renewal of all staff contracts is done by the Council of Ministers, which is the appointing authority for all EAC employees below the level of Executives. The Council which has not met for several months now due to matters beyond the control of the Community is due to hold its 41st Extra-Ordinary meeting from 10th to 11th July, 2020 with the renewal of staff contracts among the items on the agenda.

Secondly, it also misleading as the newspaper proclaims that the Assembly passed a resolution to expel the Republic of Burundi and the Republic of South Sudan.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The motion moved by Hon. Aden Omar Abdikadir recommended to the Council to urge the Summit to implement Articles 132 (4) and 146 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC. Article 132 (4) states that the “budget of the Community shall be funded by equal contributions by the Partner States and receipts from regional and international donations and any other sources as may be determined by the Council.”

Article 146, on the other hand, states that the “Summit may suspend a Partner States from taking part in the activities of the Community if that state fails to observe and fulfill the fundamental principles and objectives of the Treaty including failure to meet financial commitments to the Community within a period of eighteen (18) months.

Articles 132 (4) and 146 are clear on the obligations of all Partner States and the sanctions due to those that default. As matters stand, all Partner States except one are in default in terms of obligations. It is therefore not clear why the reporter singled out two Partner States and went ahead to report that they would be expelled.

Thirdly, the article says that the Assembly wants both the Chairperson of the Council of Ministers and the Secretary General to be censured for failure to present the Community’s 2020/2021 budget before the 30th June deadline.

In line with the EAC Financial Rules and Regulations, the EAC budget estimates were ready by the beginning of March 2020. A Council meeting that was to be held later that month to approve the estimates was postponed due to a request by the Republic of South Sudan which said it was still in the process of putting in place the Transitional Government of National Unity.

The Treaty prescribes a quorum for EAC meetings as the attendance by all Partner States. In April, the Republic of Burundi wrote to inform the Secretariat that she would not be available for participation in EAC meetings from 27th April to 25th May, 2020 as it was embarking on campaigns for the presidential, parliamentary and municipal election that was held on 20th May, 2020. This meant that no meetings of the Council or any other EAC Organ could be convened.

A subsequent Council meeting slated for the month of June 2020 also had to be postponed after Hon. John Luk Jok, Minister of EAC Affairs, Republic of South Sudan passed away on 2nd June, 2020.

The Community further went into another long mourning period following the demise of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza on 8th June, 2020.

All these events explain the delay by the Council to table the 2020/2021 FY budget before EALA by the 30th June deadline as required by the Treaty.

Various Partner States at different times requested for the postponement of the meetings due to various reasons.  As stated earlier, the EAC Council of Ministers is now expected to convene its 41st Extra-Ordinary Meeting from 10th to 11th July, 2020 via videoconference with the FY2020/2021 Budget as the main agenda item.

Further, the article implies that the bad blood between the Secretary General who is from Burundi, on the one hand, and the EALA Speaker and Chairperson of the Council of Ministers both from Rwanda, on the other, is partly to blame for the budget impasse.

It is not clear from what evidence the reporter draws the conclusion of bad blood between the three top officials at the Community. There was no allusion to such a relationship during the debate in the Assembly. Rumours, innuendo and outright lies are not supposed to be part of hard news stories like the headline story for a respectable newspaper like The EastAfrican.

- ENDS -

For more information, please contact:

Simon Peter Owaka
Senior Public Relations Officer
Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department
EAC Secretariat
Arusha, Tanzania
Tel: +255 768 552087
Email: sowaka [at] eachq.org

About the East African Community Secretariat:

The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of six Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

The EAC Secretariat is ISO 9001: 2015 Certified

 


East African Community
EAC Close
Afrika Mashariki Road
P.O. Box 1096
Arusha
United Republic of Tanzania

Tel: +255 (0)27 216 2100
Fax: +255 (0)27 216 2190
Email: eac@eachq.org