The Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) reports that the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has, Wednesday 28th January, passed the East African Community (EAC) Co-operative Societies Act, 2014 during the EALA session in Arusha, Tanzania.
The passing of the Act followed a debate on the proposed Amendments to the Bill. These are the Amendments that were generated during the extensive consultation process that was undertaken throughout the course of last year (2014), culminating in the Public Hearings which took place in each EAC partner state in September 2014.
Guided by the new Speaker, Rt. Hon. Daniel Fred Kidega, the debate on the Bill (as it was referred, before being passed), lasted two days – from Tuesday 27th to Wednesday 28th January 2015. On Tuesday, the MPs debated and passed the first four clauses. Wednesday 28th January, the MPs debated the remaining clauses including the proposed new clauses, all of which passed unanimously. The clauses were read by the Chairman of the Committee of Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources, Hon. Abdulkari Harelimana (Rwanda), with support from the Mover of the Bill, Hon. Mike Kennedy Ssebalu (Uganda). Hon. Zein Abubaker (Kenya) and Hon. Abdi Ogle (Kenya) proposed an additional clause which specifically places emphasis on encouraging the participation of people with disabilities, in co-operatives. This proposal was also adopted.
The EAC Co-operative Societies Act is now an Act of the Assembly, awaiting assent by the EAC Heads of State. EAFF’s intention is that the Act will be part of the agenda for the forth-coming EAC Heads of State Summit taking place in Nairobi, Kenya in the next two weeks. The Eastern Africa Farmers Federation intends to work closely with the office of the Secretary General of the EAC to ensure that this is the case.
Thereafter, EAFF, in close collaboration with her member organizations, intends to embark on an ambitious and robust awareness effort at the regional, national and sub-national levels in all the EAC partner states. The Act, once enacted, will allow Primary Co-operatives from the different EAC partner states to form a Regional Co-operative Union, individuals from different countries to form one co-operative, among other benefits.
The Act also establishes the East African Co-operative Agency. One of the first tasks of the Agency will be to develop the Rules and Regulations of the Act.