Zanzibar, Tanzania – As the legislative arm of the East African Community (EAC), the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) must develop linkages with civil society in order to strengthen popular participation to ensure that legislation is responsive to people’s needs.
The need to create such linkages is central to EALA’s vision of an efficient, effective and people-centered regional legislature, and to the principle of a people-centered integration process enshrined in the EAC Treaty.
EALA therefore decided to establish a comprehensive framework to regulate its interactions with the representatives of the people, including civil society organisations (CSOs), community-based organisations, the private sector and related organisations/associations.
This framework, which is currently under development, is intended to facilitate collaboration between civil society and EALA to help the Assembly to realise the Community Objectives and promote a people-centered integration process. In order to fulfil this objective, the framework will provide a structure for consultation and dialogue; establish clear and effective communication and feedback mechanisms between EALA and CSOs on matters of regional integration; and enable EALA to draw on the expertise and knowledge held by CSOs.
In early 2016, EALA sought the services of a qualified expert to assist in the development of such a framework, with AWEPA’s support. This was funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).
Consultative meetings have been held since then and, on 20-23 October 2016, Members of the EALA Commission, and representatives of the EALA Committees on General Purpose and Legal, Rules and Privileges met with the Office of the Council (CTC) to the EAC in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
The main objective of this meeting was to gather legal input from the CTC on the creation of the civil society organisation collaboration framework.
Following this meeting, CTC will assist in making final changes to the framework before it is published and officially shared with EALA members.