NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 20 – The power struggle between the East African Legislative Assembly and the East African Council of ministers over the running of issues at the community came to the fore on Friday when a public forum to discuss a proposed EAC Tourism and Wildlife Management Bill was snubbed by concerned government officials and the public.
The bill, which is intended to ensure synchronised running of wildlife and the environment within the region, is at the stage of presentation to the public before the second and third hearings of the bill.
Sponsor of the Bill Safina Kwekwe Tsungu said it sought to establish a regional framework that would be used to coordinate the activities of the tourism sector.
“There have been no initiatives within the East African Community to bring the public and private sector in the industry together, to fill that gaps that exist within this very lucrative sector for the member states,” Ms Tsungu said.
However this private members bill seems to be in conflict with a protocol that was created by the East African Council of Ministers over the same issue.
While opening the public hearings, Assistant Minister for East African Community Peter Munya expressed concern over the poor attendance at the forum, but reassured that it could be because stakeholders had no issues to raise regarding the bill.
“I’m surprised by the poor attendance by the stakeholders. I’m informed that in Rwanda and Burundi there was a lot of enthusiasm but apparently in Tanzania and Kenya the enthusiasm is not the same,” he said.
“I have looked at the bill and the bill is very well thought out. It will be very beneficial to the stakeholders,” he said
Mr Munya however noted that the Sectoral Council had raised issues on the bill during the hearings in Kigali (Rwanda) that included the fact that the tourism sector had no prior knowledge of the bill and had not been involved in the initiation, and neither had the ministers.
He said that the EAC council of ministers was in the process of operationalising the East African Tourism and Wildlife co-ordination agency through protocol, which would be in divergent with the commission being proposed under the private members bill.
“Debate on this matter is healthy and therefore requires you as members of the committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources to approach the issue with sober minds,” Mr Munya said.
“It’s not appropriate to create two parallel coordinating institutions to carry out the same functions,” he pointed out.
However Ms Tsungu was insistent that she as the sponsor of the bill saw a gap in the regional legislative framework of the tourism sector and had decided to fill it.