In less than seven days after Burundi members of East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) boycotted the 5th session in Kigali, missing Tanzanian MPs have today compelled the assembly to postpone a crucial report concerning lives of Tanzanian children.
After presentation of a report on regional affairs and conflict resolution on pastoral communities in Longido (Tanzania) and Kajiado (Kenya), the regional parliament was asked to adopt the report only to realize there was no quorum.
A head count of members present was immediately conducted and to the surprise of those present it was discovered that Tanzania had no full quorum – with majority members absent.
For EALA parliament to be complete for a session, each country is expected to have at least three members present of the nine representatives of each country. However, today Tanzania had only two members including; Dr. Perpetua Kessy Nderakindo and Shy-Rose Shadrudin Bhanji.
Burundi had three members, Kenya had six, Uganda and Rwanda, the host had eight members respectively. With the risking of a potential postponement of the session adoption, Speaker Daniel Fred Kidega followed protocol to give the house a 15 minute break to find out where the missing MPs were.
On return it was clear; the Tanzanian lawmakers were reportedly home in Tanzania. “This session is postponed because the qorum is not complete thus the session cannot proceed,” Kidega said.
Sources from fellow lawmakers revealed that the missing Tanzanian MPs were all from the ruling Chama – Cha Mapinduzi (CMM) and ‘preparing’ for grass roots re-election into the fourth EALA house.
None of the present Tanzanian MPs was willing to speak to the media on the reasons why their colleagues were not present, but KT Press managed to get comments on anonymity grounds.
“It is politically incorrect to comment on this issue. There is an election going on now and they are in government and want to return to EALA. Even me, I am in opposition but I also want to come back in the next parliament,” one Tanzanian MP said.
“But I was thinking some of them could have been caught up by the heavy floods in Dodoma this Monday.”
In the meantime, the report on pastoral communities in Tanzania and Kenya indicated that thousands of pastoral children from Tanzania are continuously abandoning school and crossing to Kenya to seeking jobs as a way of looking for greener pastures,
A report shows that Tanzanian children are hired for very little money as herder-boys and they prefer to live this life escaping away from the lack of food, schools and hospitals in their country.
“When compiling this report we focused on reasons why these children were not in school, but we instead found out that there is many children hired in child labor activities,” Mike Sebalu said.
After hearing findings from the report, EALA lawmakers were irked by the wordings in the report which indicated a tendency to child slavery in the pastoral areas.
“These children are being ‘used for money’. This is totally unacceptable and the wording just shows that thousands of children’s rights to education and a decent living are being violated,” said Tanzania’s Kessy.
Speaker Kidega asked parliament to recommend a detailed investigation into this issue and come up with another report specifically on alleged child slavery in the pastoral regions of EAC.
The EALA parliament will resume on this report adoption this Wednesday but a lineup of the EALA sessions could fall into a time management trap as many of the bills and committee reports to be discussed remain pending.
Some of the crucial bills like EAC Polythene Materials Control Bill, 2016, and EAC Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Bill 2016, and a Committee report on the oversight activity on One Network Areas remain pending, yet vitally important and were scheduled for discussion today.