EAC to Discuss Residence, Free Movement of Labour
The New Times (Kigali)
7 September 2008
Posted to the web 7 September 2008
Jumah Senyonga in Kampala
A High Level Task Force (HLTF) on the Negotiations of the EAC Common Market Protocol will be held 20 - 27 September 2008 in Bujumbura-Burundi.
It will discuss significant progress with agreements on a large number of issues on the right of establishment, residence, land ownership and free movement of labour in the five-member regional bloc.
"The proposed Protocol should have a clause on respect for gender, human rights, good governance and rule of law; and a provision for the Council of Ministers to adopt a general program for abolishing existing restrictions on the free movement of workers, individuals in the Community," notes a statement by the Directorate of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, EAC released last week.
The HLTF is a body that is tasked with setting up a framework for Customs Union Protocol Negotiations.
According to the statement, the HLTF among other issues will also advise partner States to guarantee the right to free movement of persons who are citizens of those states, abolishing of any discrimination based on nationality; the right to move freely within the territory of a Partner State; Partner States shall effect reciprocal opening of border posts and keep the posts opened and manned for 24 hours; while the movement of refugees within the Community shall be governed by relevant international conventions.
The development comes on the heels of earlier reports that Tanzania was not committed to negotiating and implementing the East African protocol.
Tanzania had earlier, according to press reports, been sceptical on some provisions of the treaty concerning land. It was contesting that the Right of Residence, one of the major items under the Common Market protocol does not automatically give a non-citizen from the EAC states access to land in Tanzania.
According to the EA Co-operation Minister Diodorus Kamala, Tanzania would press for the omission of acquisition of land by non-citizens under the EAC Market protocols.
'"An investor in Tanzania can access land without any problem. But land is not in the Right of Residence protocol," Dr Kamala, also a member of the Tanzanian National Assembly, was quoted in the press to have said.
During a media briefing in Arusha held on the 24 August 2008, Dr. Kamala emphasised that Tanzania would continue to press for some items on the proposed EA Common Market, which would address regional disparities.
He hinted that EA states may be forced to revive the Kampala Agreement of the 1960s, which set rules for each EAC partner state to specialise in a number of industries without necessarily going back to the era of monopoly.
The development to be discussed in Bujumbura is a "turn-around" by what delegates from Tanzania during the second round of the negotiations in Nairobi had noted that the United Republic of Tanzania was not committed to negotiate the EAC Common Market Protocol.
"The United Republic of Tanzania assured the HLTF that contrary to press reports, Tanzania is committed to negotiate and implement the Common Market Protocol," notes the HLTF report.
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