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The Extraordinary meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers held on Friday, May 07, 2021, praised positive achievements and developments within the Community under the leadership of Secretary-General Amb. Libérat Mfumukeko. It was an opportunity to appreciate a solid foundation that allows taking measures that finally unblock critical aspects of the functioning of the EAC.
The Council underlined its determination to maintain a rigorous financial discipline within certain organs accustomed to squandering the resources of the EAC. In today’s newsletter let us explore some of the key elements contained in the report of this meeting of the Council
Amb. Libérat left EAC’s General Reserve Fund at its highest level.
Former SG Libérat Mfumukeko left in the EAC General Reserve Fund (GRF) an amount of $9,502,857, meaning at its highest level in many years. The strategy that led to this result was a decision by the Council of Ministers and the former Secretary-General to refuse additional borrowings from the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA). The Council was informed that EALA still owes the GRF $2,176,187 (against $270,000 for Secretariat). It was noted that EALA constantly overspent and depleted their budget to an extent that they had to borrow from the GRF to cater for salaries and other critical overheads.
As reported to 40th Meeting Council held on 25/02/2021, the outstanding Borrowings from the General Reserve as of 5th May 2021 are as follows:
EAC Secretariat : USD270,000
East African Court of Justice (EACJ): USD150,345
East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) : USD2,176,187
Therefore, if the funds borrowed by the three Organs could be reimbursed, the EAC General Reserve would have been USD 12,099,389.
No more Daily Subsistence Allowances for virtual meetings
The Council was emphatic in its decision that no Daily Subsistence Allowances (DSA) will be paid to EALA members for virtual meetings until when an overall EAC policy on virtual meetings will be developed and adopted by the Council. After payments of $2,164,790 were granted between August and November 2020 to Members of the regional parliament without the Council’s authorization for virtual meetings held between March and June 2020, EALA is still claiming USD 4,871,740 for virtual meetings held from July 2020 until today.
South Sudan finally contributes $1.5 million
After spending 3 years without contributing at all to the EAC budget, the Republic of South Sudan finally contributed $1.5 million in March 2021 and $3.5 million in early May 2021. Given the hardships that this country has been going through this is highly commendable.
$188,150 to facilitate the admission of The DRC into the East African Community
The Council adopted a budget amounting to USD 188,150 for FY’2021/2022 to be drawn from the EAC General Reserve Fund for activities related to the admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo into the East African Community and referred the same to EALA for debate and approval.
The meeting recalled that the 21st Ordinary Summit of the East African Community Heads of State considered an application by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to join the EAC and directed Council to expeditiously undertake a verification mission to DRC in accordance with the EAC Procedure for Admission of new members into the EAC.
In compliance with article 3(2) of the EAC Procedure for Admission of new members into the EAC, the Secretariat vide letter reference SGN/4/11 dated 10th March 2021 communicated to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo the outcome of the 21st Ordinary Summit in respect of the application and requested for a working visit ahead of the verification mission to meet with key stakeholders in the key pillars of the EAC Integration.
Why Amb. Libérat Mfumukeko was not allowed to make recruitments?
The Council finally agreed that the EAC Secretariat will fill the more than 40 vacant positions using the EAC Financial Rules and Regulations. Indeed, in 2015 and 2016 many staff members ended their tour of duty at EAC and were never replaced; former SG Libérat Mfumukeko was just never allowed to make recruitments for some reason (maybe political?) even if the HR directorate of the Community is located in the Secretariat. Instead, they wanted to impose a quasi-permanent “Ad Hoc Commission” with only delegates from the EAC Partner States to overtake the role of the EAC Secretariat.
The establishment of the Commission replaced the procedure provided for in the EAC Staff Rules and Regulations, 2006 as the Commission started discharging the functions conferred to it. In December 2019, the Secretary-General questioned the legality of the Commission and issued a legal opinion on the same which was shared with the Partner States.
During its 40th Ordinary meeting held in Arusha in February 2021, the Council considered the proposed roadmap for recruitment to fill 41 vacant positions. Partner States at this meeting had divergent views on how to proceed with the recruitment and the Council, as a result, directed that an Extra-ordinary meeting of the Council be convened to deliberate on developing an agreeable mechanism for the recruitment of staff of the Institutions and Organs of the Community
The Bottom Line
With the decisions taken by the Council as well as the improvement shown by all member countries in their financial contributions, the sky will brighten up; undoubtedly the working climate will be better for the new Kenyan SG, Dr. Peter Mathuki.
Thanks for reading!
Fabrice Iranzi, Editor in Chief | RegionWeek.com