East African Community Secretariat, Arusha, Tanzania, 7th November, 2017: A four-day training workshop on the East African Community integration process for Public Communications Officers and journalists from media houses in the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) kicked off at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania on 7/11/2017 .
The workshop is part of a comprehensive capacity building programme on the integration process to enhance the young nation’s integration into the Community.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Director of Infrastructure, Eng. Kamugisha Kazaura, at the official opening of the workshop, EAC Secretary General, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, said that the Community had put in place a roadmap to gradually integrate the world’s youngest nation into the Community’s structures, programmes and activities.
“The capacity building programme for RSS government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and other stakeholders will focus on all aspects around the EAC integration,” said Amb. Mfumukeko.
He said that the EAC Heads of State Summit had at their 18th Ordinary Meeting held in Dar es Salaam on 20th May, 2017 appointed a judge from South Sudan to sit on the bench of the First Instance Division of the East African Court of Justice which is based in Arusha.
“RSS will later appoint a judge to the Court’s Appellate Division once the relevant laws are amended to raise the number of judges from five to six. RSS has also appointed a Defence Liaison Officer to the EAC Secretariat as is required of all Partner States,” said the Secretary General.
“The Judiciary in the RSS also agreed to provide space for the EACJ to establish a sub-registry like is the case in the capital cities of the other EAC Partner States,” said Amb. Mfumukeko, adding that the sub-registry would enable any person who files a case with the Court to do so in Juba without traveling all the way to Arusha.
On the East African Legislative Assembly, the Secretary General disclosed that the South Sudan National Legislative Assembly had already elected nine Members of Parliament to represent the country in the Assembly.
“The Assembly will start its business the moment the Republic of Kenya finalizes the election of the country’s MPs to the regional Parliament,” he said.
The training has drawn nine Public Communication Officers from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and 14 reporters/editors from various media houses in South Sudan. The objective of the training is to actively engage the participants with a view to enhancing their appreciation of the EAC integration process.
The Secretary General singled out the media as a strategic ally in the integration process saying that the Community would always endeavour to strengthen its relationship with the media for efficient communication.
He said that the EAC has overtime organised media training workshops on specific sectors and specialized matters on the integration so that journalists can report EAC issues effectively and with accuracy.
“The mass media are powerful tools for raising awareness on various issues. The media therefore stand out as a special stakeholder group that ought to be educated if the EAC integration message is to trickle down to opinion leaders at the grassroots,” he said.
In his remarks, the GIZ Programmes Officer, Mr. Bernd Multhaup, said that there was a lot of information coming out of the EAC daily in various sectors including education, culture, ICT, political affairs, tourism, among other areas.
“I urge you to be creative, investigative and honest in delivering content to the public. Responsible journalism is at the centre of building nations, fostering peace and unity among the different stakeholders and this can be of particular benefit to a young nation like yours and East Africa,” Mr. Multhaup told the participants.
Noting that regional integration was a process that would take time, Multhaup urged the participants to lobby their government, the civil society, citizens and other non-state actors to join in, and create a powerful knowledge base on the benefits of EAC integration.
“Today, a unique training starts, especially focused on building your capacities as editors, journalists and communication officers. Take advantage of this opportunity and challenge your writing and reporting skills,” he said.by