The East African Inter-Parliamentary Games kicked off on Monday with Zanzibar for the first time represented.
The 11th EAC Inter-Parliamentary Games are taking place in Arusha, Tanzania.
While addressing the participants of the Inter-Parliamentary games, East African Legislative Assembly Speaker Martin Ngoga said the decision to allow Zanzibar to participate followed consultations with EAC member states.
“We first consulted with member states and they all agreed that Zanzibar should also participate and remember even in CECAFA Zanzibar participates as well,” he said.
Zanzibar hailed the EAC member states’ decision.
“We would like to thanks EAC member states for allowing us to participate in these games and we call on the EALA speaker to always invite us whenever possible,” said Hamza Hassan Juma, the chairperson of sports for Zanzibar House of Representatives.
The Games was officially opened by Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa under the theme “Strengthening Integration through Inter- Parliamentary Games in the Covid-19 era".
He said the government will have a vaccination booth near the playground for anyone wishing to get vaccinated.
“The government will provide vaccination of any type for those who wish to and a centre will be available near the playgrounds.
“We have seen now the Covid-19 variant so we are going to make sure whoever feels like he needs to be vaccinated can do it because Tanzania’s target is to get 90 percent of our people vaccinated,” Mr Majaliwa added.
According to EALA, almost 1,500 participants from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zanzibar arrived in Arusha for the Inter-Parliamentary Games. Participants from South Sudan were expected to arrive on Tuesday.
The Inter-Parliamentary Games (IPG) are coordinated by the EALA on an annual basis. The IPG plays a fundamental role in enabling EALA's interaction with members of the national parliaments, staff and citizens of East Africa.
The IPG is expected to last 14 days with competitions lined up for football, netball, athletics, tug-of-war, volleyball, walking race, golf, basketball and darts.
“We have come here to claim our position in East Africa and we are going to win all the games as we did in 2019,” said Kenyan lawmaker Dan Wanyama.
Three MPs and three staff members from each Parliament participated in the curtain raiser game.
The curtain raiser games saw a football match between the EAC select team staff thrashing EAC select members 4-0, while in netball the EAC select staff defeated EAC select members 24-7.
The objectives of the Inter-Parliamentary Games include sensitising members, staff and citizens from all partner states on the EAC integration process and progress.