House adopts regional affairs committee report on public hearings over eac-apsa staff complaints
… Secretary General confirms all concerned staff have running contracts.
East African Legislative Assembly; Kampala, Uganda; January 26, 2017:
EALA is calling for the completion of the ratification process of the EAC Peace and Security Protocol and its full implementation including the setting up of the EAC Security Council, the stand-by force, the Panel of the Wise and related institutional capacities and structures.
Consequently, the Assembly is recommending to the EAC Council of Ministers to ensure the operationalization of its (Council of Ministers) previous decisions including re-instating and directing that staff of the East African Community – African Peace and Security Architecture (EAC-APSA) structures are mainstreamed on the EAC Structures and payroll thereof.
The House also further recommends that the EAC Secretary General works closely with the African Union Structures to strengthen the EAC-APSA structures. It calls for the Secretary General to adopt a consultative leadership style and team work guided by principles of good governance within the Community. With that, the operationalization of the East African Parliamentary Institute is deemed to be of absolute necessity. Specifically, work to establish the East African Parliamentary Centre for peace and security as part of the institutional framework under EAPI is also vital.
The Assembly adopted the report of the Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution on the Public hearings on the complaints raised in a motion for the Peace and Security Department at the EAC Secretariat under the African Peace and Security Architecture. The report was presented to the House by Hon Mike Sebalu on behalf of the substantive Chair, Hon Abdullah Mwinyi.
The report follows the adoption of a resolution on August 23rd, 2016, at its 136th Sitting in Arusha that required investigations on allegations of bad governance at the EAC Secretariat with reference inter alia to attempts to terminate the contracts of staff of the EAC APSA Programme. To this effect, the Speaker of EALA referred the matter to the Committee on Regional and Conflict Resolution to investigate the allegations and report back expeditiously to the House.
The EAC-APSA structures according to the Report are part and parcel of the African Union Peace and Security Frameworks, a Standing Organ of the African Union. Essentially, APSA encourages all the eight RECs to have Peace and Security Councils. At the moment only the SADC and ECOWAS blocs have the Peace and Security Councils with the other blocs (EAC included) having the dockets.
According to the report, APSA has a roadmap with three phases (2008-2010 which concentrates efforts on capacity building, phase 2 (2011 – 2013), on operationalization of the pillars and 2016 – 2018).
In June 2016, the Report states, the Secretary General gave instructions to the Director of Human Resources and Administration to terminate the contracts of APSA staff due to lack of funds to sustain their continued employment, the matter of which primarily led to the public hearing.
Hon Sebalu informed the House the Committee served notices to 22 persons comprising of the Chair, Council of Ministers, EAC Secretary General, Executives of the EAC and the affected staff.
The Committee further observed that APSA is an important institutional framework, critical to peace, security and stability in Africa and globally. It therefore stated the decision making of the Secretary General on the matter of termination of APSA staff were not done in accordance with the Rules and regulations of the EAC staff and by extension, the shut-down of the EAC-APSA structures was down without required procedures of termination.
The House was informed some of the aggrieved staff headed to the East African Court of Justice to seek redress in the matter which further complicated the matter for the Counsel to the Community. The Council of Ministers however, intervened and pronounced itself on the matter directing the Secretary General of the Community to rescind the decision and to amicably settle the matter out of Court.
The Committee in its findings reiterated a number of negative impacts premised on the decision to terminate the EAC APSA staff. Such include; immobilizing the Conflict Early Warning system that us design to aid the Community to progressively address situations that can lead to timely intervention to peace and compromising the competencies, nurtured and built over years on matters of peace and security.
During debate, Hon Francois Kalinda reiterated that the procedure of termination of staff was not followed. “The Secretary General needs to recommend to the Council based on the Human Resources Advisory Committee which was not done”
Hon Bernard Mulengani stated that decisions of the Council of Ministers need to be adhered to by the Secretary General who is the Chief Executive of the Community. The Executive should also listen to the advice of the Counsel to the Community who is the legal Advisor of the Community. The legislator demanded to know why the staff of the APSA Programme were yet to be mainstreamed in to the structure of the EAC.
He called for the amendment of the Treaty by the Summit of EAC Heads of State to vet the political appointees.
Hon Dora Byamukama termed peace and security as a key component of the Community and such architecture feeds into the continental level. “We must take this aspect very seriously”, she said, adding the handling of the termination was perturbing.
The Council of Ministers need to tell us the action so far taken in terms of ensuring the security of the staff of APSA and the withdrawal of the case. She said funding was important for the Programme and requested to know if the EU funding was sustainable. “At ECOWAS, the APSA Programme is fully funded by the regional bloc. I think it is high time we took up the structure as part of the EAC funding”, she said.
Hon Emmanuel Nengo said liquidity issues continued to hamper the activities of the Community. “I think the exercise we have gone through shall help the Executive to improve work”, he said. The Legislator further said the open source (form of acquiring information) at the Early Warning Systems at the EAC may not be objective at all times and asked for Offices to be opened in each Partner State.
Hon Jean Marie Muhirwa said Peace and security were vital for progress in the region. He said funding and staffing were key to ensure sustenance of the programme. “Funding needs to be secured”, he said.
On his part, Hon Abubakar Zein noted that the Chairperson of Summit on the EAC Heads of State was clear that issues of governance must be upheld while Hon Martin Ngoga said scrutiny was now a way of life in the Community. “We must not allow anyone to act as they wish, otherwise it would disintegrate the Community”, he said.
He said it was necessary for the Assembly to remain objective in line with the Rules and Procedures if it is to be of service to the Community.
Hon Angela Kizigha said the Community is rule based in line with Article 6 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC. “The decision by the Secretary General contravened the Rules and regulations of the Community. All decisions taken must be in line with Article 6”, she added.
Hon AbuBakr Ogle stated that Members had taken an Oath to serve the Community and the interests of the bloc should take precedence over all matters. He reiterated the need for the Executive to engage in consultative leadership
“At the moment, there is litigation in the matter pending before the East African Court of Justice and is expected to resume in March 2017” the Counsel to the Community, Hon Dr Anthony Kafumbe said.
“I am confident that the matter shall be settled amicably and come to some settlement before then”, he added.
The Secretary General of the EAC, Amb Liberat Mfumukeko, said his action was done in good faith, adding that funding was indeed a challenge for the Community. He said the APSA Project as at April 2016, had a deficit of over USD 300,000 and the Community was indeed giving money to the project at that time.
He said the Executives, heads of Institutions and staff had been consulted during a consultative meeting in May 2016. “Further to that, under staff Rules 37, the Secretary General is advised by a Committee that includes the Deputy Secretary General, the Counsel to the Community and the Directors of Finance and Administration and Human Resources among others” he stated.
He remarked that letters of rescinding their termination were however written on the recommendations of the Council and said the contracts were further renewed in December 2016 until the end of the Financial Year (2016/17).
Others who supported the report were Hon Pierre Celestin Rwigema and Hon Sarah Bonaya.
The Chair of the Council of Ministers, Hon Dr Susan A. Kolimba assured the House the Secretariat follows the Rules and Regulations of the Community as laid down. We undertake to assist the Secretary General and the Secretariat in ensuring the rules and regulations are done.
She remarked that the Council was also making follow-up to ensure the remaining two Partner States duly ratify the Peace and Security Protocol.
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