MEMBERS of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) have threatened a court action against the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat, if they are not paid their outstanding emoluments.
A motion that was moved without notice was seconded and thus the Assembly issued a seven-day ultimatum for members to get paid.
Late Tuesday, the regional lawmakers urged the EAC Council of Ministers to direct the EAC Secretariat to pay all unresolved payments to members and staff.
Mr Abdikadir Omar Aden (Kenya) moved the House under Rule 30 of the EALA Rules of Procedure, saying the Assembly had contractual obligations to members as well as the staff and that such matters deserve immediate attention.
He faulted the EAC Secretary General Amb Libérat Mfumukeko and the secretariat for side-barring the recommendations and directives of the Council of EAC Ministers and ignoring letters given to that effect by the chair of the Council of Ministers.
If the members and staff are not paid within a week the Assembly will seek justice at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ). It, likewise, desires EAC to pay attention to the plentiful decisions passed by the Council of Ministers, saying various decisions and deliberations that concern the welfare of members and staff often went unmet.
Mr Aden informed the House that members' emoluments were unsettled since March last year, terming it unfair and against Article 51 of the EAC Treaty, that governs the terms and conditions of service.
He noted while members were meeting virtually, the EAC Secretariat officials were physically travelling within the partner states and in doing so, earning respective daily subsistence allowances.
In regards to members meeting virtually, Mr Aden posed a question thus: “I would want to ask the Council to find out from the Secretariat how much the Secretariat had saved.”
Article 14 of the EAC Treaty mandates the Council of Ministers to, among other things, be the policy making organ of the EAC, thus promoting the implementation of programmes of the Community.
Ms Gai Deng thanked Speaker Martin Ngoga for efforts his office was undertaking to address challenges EALA was facing. Ms Susan Nakawuki was of the view that the Assembly was being ‘remote’ controlled by an invisible hand within the Community.
“It seems we are now dependent on the Secretariat and the Council to beg for what is rightfully ours,” she said.
Ms Wanjiku Muhia termed the motion as timely, saying the dues owed were legal in their nature, saying it was worrying the Secretary General opted to ignore directives of the Council of Ministers.
Dr Oburu Oginga said the Secretariat had gone to the extent of trying to reorganize the calendar of the Assembly, adding that it was inappropriate for individual Council Members to go against the collective decision of the Council of Ministers.
Mr Gideon Gatpan said EALA's mandate was to legislate, oversight and represent and anybody trying to undermine it was treading on dangerous grounds.