AWEPA firmly believes in regional integration as a key to long-term sustainable development and democratisation in Africa, allowing countries to combine forces in dealing with the multifaceted social, economic and political challenges which often exist across geographical boundaries.
Based on this conviction, the current East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Capacity Development programme has run from 2011-2016, with the objective of contributing to accelerated, harmonious and balanced development, and continued democratisation in East Africa.
EALA was founded in 2001 and functions as the legislative organ of the East African Community (EAC). Since its inception, the Assembly has worked with AWEPA to implement programmes designed to develop EALA’s capacity in the EAC.
The programme seeks to empower EALA to effectively fulfill its legislative, representative and oversight mandate, particularly in matters related to improving the EAC integration process and increasing cooperation among EAC Partner States in political, economic, social and cultural fields.
More specifically, the programme aims to enhance EALA’s legislative and oversight role; realise effective outreach thereby promoting the representation of the interests of the East African people; increase the institutional and organistional capacity of EALA; and establish effective linkages with national assemblies, with other regional parliaments and internationally.
Example of activities
The EAC Treaty mandates EALA to liaise with the National Assemblies of the EAC Partner States to advance the EAC integration agenda. The annual Nanyuki Series provides one forum to do this, with the objective to strengthen the functional relationships between EALA and the National Parliaments, as well as enhance the knowledge of the EAC integration process among the stakeholders. The issues for discussion are of great importance to the region and proposals for joint efforts to tackle regional challenges are discussed.
The Nanyuki IX Seminar was held in Dar es Salaam in March 2016 and focused on the theme: “Compliance with African Union and sub-regional blocs’ election benchmarks – a case of the EAC”.
The theme of the Seminar was very relevant as all EAC Partner States had either concluded or are about to start electoral processes. Unfortunately, some of the recent elections have degenerated into conflicts. The Seminar addressed this negative trend by providing a checklist on whether the EAC Partner States’ elections did/do conform to and comply with the African Union and sub-regional election benchmarks as credible, transparent and fair.
EALA has increased its capacity to enact legislation required for EAC integration and has passed 37 pieces of legislation during the 2011-2016 period. Public hearings have become standard procedure for all Bills under review. AWEPA has facilitated EALA Members to engage in consultations with the beneficiaries and this has resulted in more responsive pieces of legislation.
A variety of outreach activities has been supported under the EALA-AWEPA programme in all of the programme years and these brought EALA Members and staff together with citizens and stakeholders. Successful sensitisation has resulted in more petitions being presented by citizens for purposes of shaping and influencing the legislative agenda. Effective linkages at the regional level have resulted in appreciation of the partners work, enhanced practices, and in some cases harmonization of laws.