Former Kabula County MP, James Kakooza has been elected to represent Uganda in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).
On Monday, 183 MPs voted in favour of Kakooza’s representation. The eleventh Parliament has a total of 529 MPs. Deputy Speaker Anita Among declared Kakooza as successful elected EALA member.
Kakooza now replaces the former representative of Uganda, Mathias Kasamba who succumbed to Covid-19 on April 27, 2021.
He now joins the other representatives elected to EALA by Uganda on 28th February 2017. These include Rose Akol Okullo (NRM), PauI Musamali (NRM), George Odongo (NRM), Mary Mugyenyi (NRM), Dennis Namara (NRM), Chris Opoka (UPC), Fred Mukasa Mbidde (DP) and Susan Nakawuki (Independent).
Kakooza of the NRM party was the only successfully nominated person for the position according to a report by the Verification Committee of the nominees and applicants for the by-election to the EALA Uganda Chapter.
The report was presented to Parliament by the Committee Chairperson Fox Odoi Oywelowo, the MP for West Budama North-East constituency.
Kakooza was first confirmed for the position on July 17, 2021 by the NRM Parliamentary Caucus at Kololo Independence grounds after beating other contestants in the party primaries race with 93 votes followed by the former State Minister for Tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda who garnered 85 votes.
EALA is the legislative organ of the East African Community (EAC) established by Article 9(1) (1) of The Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community (1999).
The regional Assembly consists of members elected from outside the national parliaments of the six partner states including Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and South Sudan. Each member state elects 9 members to the EALA through their respective National Assemblies and the EAC Treaty requires that members should represent the diversity of views present in their own National Assemblies and also that their selection meets certain criteria for gender balance.
The membership of EALA currently stands at 62 and 8 ex-officio members including the Minister responsible for regional co-operation from each Member State and the Secretary-General and the Counsel to the Community.
According to Odoi, the Verification Committee received two applications from the former legislator James Kakooza and former Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) officer in the Customs Department, Gilbert Agaba for the position.
“The Committee interacted with James Kakooza on several issues related to the movement of persons, tourism, taxation, tariff and nontariff barriers to trade, climate change, the Customs Union, regional security and the political Federation. Kakooza satisfactorily responded to all the questions put to him by the committee and from his responses, the members established that he met the requirements under Article 50 of the Treaty, was knowledgeable, and thus he was well qualified for the candidature to EALA,” said Odoi.
He said that his committee also confirmed that Kakooza possesses the required academic qualifications and that he is a Ugandan born in 1962 and holder of a valid National Identity Card.
Regarding Agaba, MP Odoi said that the candidate expressed interest to contest in the NRM party primaries but was not nominated by the party as a flag bearer. Although Agaba met all the requirements for the position, Odoi told parliament that both the candidates had participated in the process that determined the NRM party candidate and that the party choice had been formally presented to his committee.
However, Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Sseggona criticized the disqualification of Agaba from the race on grounds that the NRM party had presented a candidate of its choice.
However, Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa supported the Committee report saying that they considered the issues raised by Sseggona.
Deputy Speaker Anita Among closed the debate and directed that the House Committee on Rules, Discipline and Privileges looks into the rules of procedure regarding the election of representatives to EALA and report back within 45 days.
Kakooza said that he will do his best to serve the interests of the citizens of the East African Community.
Kakooza is a Certified Public Accountant, holds a Certificate in Taxation, Statistics and Information Technology from Beijing University, a Certificate in Anti-Corruption Methods/ Finance Management in International Law Institute, Washington DC, a Certificate in Public-Private Partnership, University of Australia (AUSH), Customs Basics and Tax Administration (Uganda Revenue Authority-URA).
He also holds a Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education from Mende Kalema Memorial Secondary School and Uganda Certificate of Education from St. Charles Lwanga Secondary School, Kasasa.
Kakooza previously served as a Minister of State for Primary Health Care from 2007 to 2011, a Commissioner of the Parliamentary Commission from 2005 to 2007 and a Member of Parliament for 20 years. He was also formerly a Director of Import and Export of Kabale Distributors, a Director Uganda Importers and Exporters Association, a Banker in Sembule Bank and a Director of Karibu Forex Bureau.