KAMPALA – Lawmakers in the 10th Parliament have mocked plans by the government to commemorate twenty years of existence of the East African Community (EAC) since its establishment in 1999, saying the integration is a myth so there is nothing to celebrate about.
The MPs sentiments were in response to a statement tabled by Julius Maganda, Minister of State for East African Community Affairs who told Parliament that the overall objective of the EAC 20th Anniversary is to commemorate the key achievements under the four Pillars of the East African Community Treat like; Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union and progress on the Political Confederation.
The Minister said that this year’s event is set to be celebrated under the theme; Deepening Integration in Widening Cooperation and that a number of activities have been lined up in November for the ceremony.
First to mock the celebrations was Opposition Chief Whip, Ssemujju Nganda who wondered how the plan to achieve political federation within EAC when Ugandans aren’t in position to cross over to Rwanda.
He said, “The Minister in his statement says by 2024, there will be political federation, can the Minister explain how that will that be achieved when the borders between Rwanda and Uganda are closed? We have Ugandans that are crossing to Rwanda and are being shot. All Ugandans who were teaching in Tanzania have been chased, it is very difficult for a Ugandan to work in Tanzania. Can the Minister explain in his statement whether his statement is a theory or just a wish list that these things will happen.
John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya County said that Ugandans are mourning, even what used to be there as coalition of willing is no more because Tanzania and Burundi have been shy in moving from isolation to corporation.
He added that the protocol that removed those restrictions is no longer working as far as relation with Uganda and Rwanda is concerned and Ugandans shouldn’t be duped to believe there is anything to celebrate about.
James Acidiri (Maracha East) blamed Ugandan Government for taking an aggressive foreign policy that has seen Uganda interfere with issues in South Sudan, something the nation could have solved saying, “How do you expect to deepen integration in situation where you are interfering in sovereignty of the states you hope to integrate with. We are aware that UPDF was in South Sudan and still continue how do you expect South Sudan to federate politically when you have active forces in that country?”
However, Acidiri’s remarks were protested by Bright Rwamirama, State Minister for Veteran Affairs who said that UPDF was in South Sudan to repatriate Ugandans and it is on handsard that MPs appreciated what UPDF did and that Uganda has been mediating in peace process.
Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga declined to rule Acidiri out of order saying UPDF presence in South Sudan is a question of integration because Parliament passed budget to facilitate their stay in South Sudan.
Charles Ilukor (Kumi County) said it is only Uganda that is patriotic, “I am told two members haven’t paid subscription fees and I am told Uganda is standing in for them, what type of federation is this where others stand in for others?”