Zanzibar is seeking amendments to the East African Community Treaty to allow it to choose its representatives to the regional assembly.
Speaker of the Zanzibar House of Representatives Zubeir Ali Maulid said this week that the time had come for the Isles to elect their own members to the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala).
Each partner state is allowed to nominate nine members and Tanzania’s national parliament in Dodoma decides the nine representatives who represent the Union — Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.
On Tuesday, while addressing the regional assembly sitting in Zanzibar, Mr Zubeir called for a review of Article 50 of the Treaty establishing the East African Community.
“We reiterate that Article 50 of the East African Community Treaty be revised to allow the Zanzibar legislature to elect members of the assembly from Zanzibar,” he said.
The article states that: “The National Assembly of each partner state shall elect, not from among its members, nine members of the Assembly, who shall represent as much as it is feasible, the various political parties represented in the National Assembly, shades of opinion, gender and other special interest groups in that partner state, in accordance with such procedures as the National Assembly of each partner state may determine.”
His sentiments were echoed by Maryam Ussi, an EALA member from Tanzania, who said that Zanzibar should send nine representatives to Eala “because it is a country: It has its own economic issues and its own political issues, which are slightly different from those of the Mainland.”
Ms Ussi said that Zanzibar’s issues were not being fully addressed in the regional assembly. “We cover all Tanzania’s interests in Eala, but Zanzibar will benefit more if we send nine members from there,” she said.
Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous territory in political union with Tanzania. It consists of the island of Zanzibar or Unjuga, Pemba and smaller neighbouring islands.
In April, Tanzania will be commemorating 55 years of the Union of Tanganyika and the offshore island nation of Zanzibar.
Meanwhile, Eala will introduce an anti-corruption law — East African Community Integrity and Anti-Corruption Act — for EAC institutions and organs.
This decision comes after an audit report last October revealed irregularities in the recruitment and awarding of short-term contracts in the Community that contravened staff rules and regulations and the EAC treaty.
Victor Burikukiye, an Eala member from Burundi, noted that the Community was increasingly facing allegations of corruption and therefore urgent, decisive and punitive action has to be taken to deal with it.
Currently, the only framework that exists is the EAC Staff Rules and Regulations and the EAC Anti-Corruption Policy of 2006, which do not comprehensively provide for deterrent sanctions.