EAC speakers kick off games with rallied call for free border movement

EAC speakers kick off games with rallied call for free border movement
The EAC Parliamentarians, headed by their respective Speakers, pose for a group photo during the launch of the Inter-parliamentary Games in Juba. [Photo: Vincent Lubega]

Kenya’s Speaker of the National Assembly, Moses Wetangula, has called for speedy ratification of the immigration laws of the East Africa Community to ease the free movement of people, goods, and services.

He said this would result in unrestricted free trade in goods and services as well as cementing people’s interactions.

“As we come here today to widen, deepen, and tighten our relationships, we also must remember that the unity of the EAC people has yet to be completed,” said Wetangula, during the East Africa inter-parliamentary pre-press conference in Juba.

Wetangula urged all members of the national parliaments from the various states to push for the agenda of uniting the EAC to become the reality as soon as possible.

“I urge the lawmakers who are present here that the dream of free movement of people, goods, and services in East Africa must be a dream that needs to be fulfilled in our lifetime,” he added.

According to him, Kenya has a policy that any African who arrives in the country (Kenya) must obtain a visa on arrival. But this excludes some EAC partner states like South Sudan, with whom Nairobi scrapped the requirement in reciprocity.

The Speaker of South Sudan’s Transitional National Legislative Assembly, Jemma Nunu Kumba, highlighted the necessity of EAC integration and claimed that it was the only option to make the group stronger than before.

She urged the MPs from the various member states to keep advancing the idea of unity in order to spur regional growth.

According to Kumba, there are over 800 delegates from EAC parliaments who are already in Juba and will take part in the competition.

“I can disclose to you today that we have 876 parliamentarians from the East African Parliament for these inter-parliamentary games; among the delegates, there are 200 delegates from the parliament of Uganda, 280 from Kenya, 46 from Rwanda, 70 from Burundi, 180 from Tanzania, and 100 from EALA,” she said.

Anita Among, the speaker of the Ugandan parliament, stated that the inter-parliamentary competitions contributed to raising awareness of EAC integration.

“We want to encourage South Sudanese to be happy in Kenya as much as they are in Juba, and Ugandans to be happy in Tanzania as much as they are in Uganda,” she stated.

“For us to tighten the EAC, we can only do that through unity; although unity cannot make us rich, it can make our people get together and not be immured by the other African countries or by any other country.”

She urged the EAC members to support Kumba, the current Chairperson of the Bureau of the EAC Speakers, in her efforts to advance the interests of the East African community through the South Sudan Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA).