By Jean Paul Nkundineza.
The East African Legislative Assembly has yesterday reiterated regional joint and coordinated approaches in the fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic at the EAC, Arusha-Tanzania.
EALA Members stated at a virtual (via video conference) meeting chaired by the Speaker, Rt Hon Ngoga Martin, that such initiatives would complement existing measures currently in place by the Partner States.
During the meeting, Members took the opportunity to provide feedback on their recent activities in the Partner States and to appraise developments in the Partner States with regards to level of preparedness to combat COVID- 19.
The salient issues of the findings of the various chapters of EALA in the Partner States: include enhanced measures by Partner States to effect social distancing, usage of masks, lockdown (or partial lockdown) and community/random testing in some of the Partner States, sensitization and hand-washing initiatives among others. The Members noted that Partner States’ economies, like all others in the globe, had taken major hits and lauded EAC governments’ efforts been undertaken to provide stimulus packages to ameliorate the economic challenges.
The session was called to report back on the recent activities taken by the House to assess preparedness by Partner States to combat the COVID-19 virus pandemic in the EAC region. The activity took place in the Partner States between 18th March, 2020 to 7th April, 2020.
A day earlier (March 17th, 2020), at its 45th Meeting held virtually, the EALA Commission noted with concern the alarming spread of COVID-19 in the East Africa region and the globe.
In light of the above, the EALA Commission moved ahead with the assessment of preparedness and awareness creationon the COVID-19 in Partner States. The Assembly further asserted that Members continue and conclude activities according to plans and in so doing, operate within the guidelines provided by the respective Partner States. The findings of the exercise were embedded in the Meeting today, as the current sitting (4th Meeting of the 3rd Session) continues.
EALA Speaker, Rt Hon Ngoga Martin, acknowledged the feedback and directed that formal reports be tabled for debate during the forthcoming EALA Plenary.
Over the last three weeks, all the six Committees of the House have continued to convene virtually, in the respective EAC capitals to consider their various reports, prior to presenting tabling and subsequent debates at plenary. The EALA Commission also held its statutory meeting online to consider and approve the activities of the Assembly for the month of May 2020.
EALA has taken the video conference approach in line with the measures in the Partner States and globe to commit to containing the COVID-19 pandemic by minimizing and restricting movement. Statistics of COVID -19 pandemic stands at 1,890 cases in the EAC region and 4,466,944 globally as at today, (May 14th, 2020).
At its meeting on April 20th, 2020, the virtual EALA Commission meeting chaired by the EALA Speaker, Rt Hon Ngoga Martin, noted with concern the alarming rate at which COVID-19 pandemic is spreading globally (and in the region) and on the attendant impact on humanity.
The Commission thus resolved to continue with its planned activities through video conferencing in Arusha and the EAC Partner States. A number of Parliaments in the region and globe have also re-looked at the modus operandi of undertaking legislative, representative and oversight mandate following the advent of the pandemic.
Members of the Summit of EAC Heads of State also held a virtual consultative meeting via video conference on May 12th, 2020, calling on Partner States to immediately work on a regional mechanism for COVID-19 testing, certification and monitoring of truck drivers and to report back to the Heads of State. The EAC Council of Ministers as well as the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) have also employed online modalities to undertake their work.
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