Government skips Rwanda question during Parliament inquiry

Friday November 22 2019

The minister of State for the East African

The minister of State for the East African Community, Mr Julius Maganda on the floor of Parliament recently. FILE PHOTO  

By Moses Kyeyune

The government has ignored queries by Parliament on the continued diplomatic fallout between Uganda and her neighbours to the South.
Last week, Parliament threatened to boycott the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the East African Community unless the government provides a satisfactory explanation on the progress of resolving key conflicts with her neighbours.

Core on the issues raised by members was the unresolved Uganda-Rwanda border closure at Gatuna and the expulsion of Ugandan migrant workers by Tanzania.
On November 14, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga tasked the minister of State for the East African Community, Mr Julius Maganda, to explain relations between Uganda and her neighbours.
Also critical were concerns about the fate of Uganda’s property in Mombasa and Kisumu under the Uganda Property Holding that is allegedly under seizure by the government of Kenya.

However, Mr Maganda, in his November 18 response, made no mention of the issues and instead maintained that the regional bloc has for the last 20 years enjoyed mutual respect from all member states, save for a few challenges.
The minister’s statement could not be discussed after the House sitting was prematurely called off. Ms Kadaga was reportedly caught up in a meeting with the President while the deputy speaker is out of the country.

According to the minister’s statement, regional integration has co-existed positively to the four pillars; customs union, common market, monetary union and political federation.
Mr Maganda cited the signing of the Common Market Protocol, which opened for “the progressive implementation of free movement of goods; free movement of persons and labour; free movement of services; free movement of capital and the rights of establishment and residence.”
Under the customs union, Mr Maganda said the cost of doing business has come down.

“It takes two to five days for a container of goods to move from Mombasa to Busia. It used to be about 21 days,” the statement reads in part.
“Simplified trade regimes for small traders engaged in cross-border trade with goods less than $2,000 (Shs7.37m), you only need a certificate of origin from the Uganda Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives; we have also established the one area network for the mobile phone industry, which is operational in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya,” Mr Maganda added.
He also highlighted the abolition of student passes and related fees with the rollout of the National Identity Card project.