5 February 2013

Tanzania: Water Motion Fuels Tempers

Dodoma — THE grand project aimed at ending the chronic shortage of water in the city of Dar es Salaam by 2015 is in good progress, Water Minister Jumanne Maghembe told the National Assembly on Monday.

He told the House that the project seeks to improve water availability in the city from the current 300 million litres to 710 million litres per day, cut water losses, improve efficiency of water authorities and increase revenue.But even the juicy assurance could not prevent a house drama, mainly precipitated by a section of the Opposition Camp that led to a war of words and shouting that prompted Deputy Speaker Job Ndugai to prematurely postpone Monday's session and call a meeting of the Standing Committee to deliberate on the chaotic events.

Before adjourning the session, Mr Ndugai had accepted the government's request to dock a private motion tabled by Mr John Mnyika (Ubungo-CHADEMA) seeking the improvement of water and sewerage services in the country's commercial capital.There were ugly scenes in the debating chamber after Opposition MPs ran amok after Prof Maghembe countered Mr Mnyika's motion and wished the House to debate the state's motion.

There were several rants and disorderly exchanges as the MPs stood up in protest, claiming that the Opposition was unfairly being treated by the chair.The chaotic scenes also made it impossible for the Attorney General, Mr Frederick Werema, to intervene and clarify on some issues due to the incessant shouting in the House.

However, Mr Ndugai told reporters that there is no party that gets preferential treatment, noting that all are treated fairly as dictated by the standing orders. "We have asked the standing committee to look into the matter, especially the undignified manner in which the MPs conducted themselves today; and I will accept any decision that the committee will come up with," he said.

Meanwhile, some Opposition MPs said that they plan to lodge an official complaint against the deputy speaker "for the way he unfairly treats agenda from the Opposition". Mr Mnyika, whose motion was dropped, told reporters that he will come up with a strong statement after deliberating on the matter in today's session.

It all started during the winding up of the private motion by Dr Hamis Kigwangalla (Nzega-CCM) with fierce exchanges between MPs that narrowed down to personal attacks.In a move that seemed in bad taste, Dr Kigwangwalla attacked Mr Tundu Lissu (Singida East-Chadema), saying that the latter had been receiving treatment at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) and that he (Mr Lissu) knows what he is suffering from.

That prompted the intervention of the attorney general who asked Dr Kigwangalla to withdraw his statement as it was unethical and uncalled for.After a similar request by the deputy speaker, the Nzega legislator withdrew his statement. But that did not stop a heated debate.

The drama stemmed from a point raised by Mr Mnyika who defended a point brought up last week by Mr Lissu who said that the private motion tabled by Dr Kigwangwalla was baseless. Mr Mnyika observed that Lissu's point was misunderstood because what he said was that creating youth development fund alone will not solve the problem of youth unemployment in the country and suggested other alternatives.

It was then that a livid Dr Kigwangwalla took a swipe at Mr Lissu and unleashed a barrage of personal attacks. There were angry reactions among MPs in the House following the exchange before the attorney general asked for the statement to be withdrawn.

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