6 February 2013

Tanzania: House Chaos Irks Speaker Makinda

Dodoma — SPEAKER Anne Makinda has said that the furore that interrupted normal business in the National Assembly on Monday was uncalled for and would not have happened if rules and regulations had been followed.

She has tasked the Parliamentary Committee, Ethics, Powers and Privileges to review the situation and recommend appropriate follow-up action.

The Speaker's guidance to that effect will be presented before the end of the ongoing session. "Some of the MPs misinterpreted regulations to mislead the public. Regulations Number 53 through 58, for example, stipulate procedures while Regulation Numbers 59 to 62 give direction on proper debate conduct.

"The allegations that the Speaker's chair took sides with the government are not true -- only that some MPs refused to abide by regulations. Some even spoke at random while the Speaker was still standing -- contrary to regulations.

This institution (Parliament) is disappointed and condemns the behaviour of some MPs," she said. Ms Makinda was referring to the debate on the private motion tabled in the House by Mr John Mnyika (Ubungo, Chadema) calling on the government to spell out additional measures to ensure reliable and clean water supply and proper sewerage management in the city of Dar es Salaam.

"Mnyika's private motion met all the fundamentals and was approved for presentation in the House. Disorderly behaviour ruined the proceedings. People voted for us to represent them with dignity. The Minister for Water, Prof Jumanne Maghembe, had the right to respond on behalf of the government.

It was not proper for MPs to interfere during his presentation," she said. Before adjourning the session in the morning, the Speaker allowed MPs seeking guidance from the Speaker on various issues to air their views.

The first on the list was Mr Joshua Nassari (Arumeru -Chadema) who questioned the legality for the elimination of his private motion based on strategies to help improve the performance of the National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA) to rescue the 'ailing' education system.

"I fail to understand why my private motion has been removed from today's Order Paper while the issue at hand has nothing to do with what transpired in the House yesterday," he said. He added: "The regulations demand that the MP who proposed the motion has the right to drop it or at least be consulted before it is dropped.

This did not happen and I am not happy about it. This is not single-party parliament, it is people's parliament and a democratic parliament". The Opposition Chief Whip, Mr Tundu Lissu (Iramba East -Chadema), demanded clarification from the Speaker as to when more than ten appeals filed since 2011 in connection with the alleged violation of regulations would be determined.

For his part, Mr Mnyika continued with his barrage of criticism against Water Minister Jumanne Maghembe, saying that the latter had been contravening parliamentary regulations by responding to views and observations made by fellow MPs.

"The minister was not trying to accommodate the changes as proposed in the schedule of amendment the previous day but rather building up a case for the motion to be dropped. It is not true that funds for completion of water projects in Dar es Salaam are ready at hand as claimed by the minister.

I have documents to defend my argument," Mr Mnyika charged. Interviewed outside the debating chamber, Rev Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban- Chadema) accused the Speaker's seat of pushing them (Opposition) too far. "Preferential treatment to the ruling party is obvious. Wisdom must prevail for effective and rational representation in the House," he added.

Meanwhile, Ms Makinda ordered the government to present in the House today a comprehensive report with regard to reports that foreign security forces have illegally crossed the border into the country where they have been roughing up people on Ukerewe Island.

The Speaker was responding to a concern raised by Mr Salvatory Machemli (Ukerewe -Chadema), who informed the House that police and army personnel from Kenya and Uganda have invaded residential houses in Ukerewe in search for under-sized fishing nets.

"People in Ukerewe have suffered a great deal in the hands of foreign security organs, beating them up under the pretext of hunting for fishing nets. This is unacceptable and the government must make a statement on the issue," Mr Machemli pleaded.

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