Tanzania, Uganda at loggerheads over appointment of EALA clerk

16Oct 2021
The Guardian
Tanzania, Uganda at loggerheads over appointment of EALA clerk

TANZANIA and Uganda are at loggerheads after Ugandans MPs in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) had cried foul over the impending appointment of a Tanzanian as the new clerk of the House.

On Thursday, EALA Speaker, Martin Ngoga, had to adjourn the Assembly after MPs from Uganda decided   to abscond the session, making it impossible for the quorum to be reached as per the assembly regulations.

The interviews for the position were held in Arusha last month and news have started filtering in that a 42-year old UK trained Tanzania Attorney, Saidi Othman Yakubu, scored the highest marks and is expected to be announced soon as the new clerk.

But, Ugandans are asking for the recruitment to be halted; saying that Tanzania occupies more positions in the EALA than most countries and that the position should have gone to a Ugandan – Alex Lumumba Obatre; who was allegedly being beaten by Yakubu in the job interviews.

Reports have it that Uganda has held the position for the last ten years; with Kenneth Matende, at the helm from 2009 until 2019. He was also the Deputy Clerk from 2001 until 2009. Matende who has finished his 10-year tenure– was deputized by Obatre during his decade in the office.

That makes almost 20 years of uninterrupted clerkship for the East African nation. If Yakubu is given the job, he will be the first Tanzanian to have the job since EALA was established following revival of the East African Community in 1997.

The EALA MPs want the issue to be referred to the Council of Ministers and maybe the Summit meeting, something that is not agreed by MPs from other member countries.

“The interviews were done and the Tanzanian won. This is not something to cause us a problem or for the Council of Ministers to intervene. The Council never intervened when Ugandans were front runners why should that change now?” asked one of EALA MP from Burundi who spoke with this paper in Arusha.

Reports have it that of all six members of the EAC, only South Sudan supports Uganda claims even though during the voting at the EALA Commission, they endorsed the Tanzanian candidate. It said that of the required 12 votes in the Commission, Yakubu got 10 votes.

The issue has already attracted debates on online media platforms where East Africans are giving their thoughts on what should be done to solve the mini crisis. The ACT Wazalendo leader, Zitto Kabwe asked Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, to reign in on his MPs for the interest of the greater East African Community (EAC).

“Uganda has no reason to sulk because a Tanzania has bagged the job. No country among EAC members has the right to hold any position forever. Ugandans have served us well as Clerks in the past and this is the time for a new person to take the helm. President Museveni needs to sort it out with his MPs,” he said.

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