6 February 2013

Tanzania: Bunge Is an Honourable Place, Honourable MPs

GIVEN its law making and changing role, the legislature, one of the three main estates of state governance, others being the executive and the judiciary, is a sacred and noble institution.

It is a mass representation organ made up of elected, specially elected, nominated and, in some cases, ex-officio members. By its very nature, therefore, this august body is a serious institution whose members must be persons of proven integrity and sobriety.

They were elected or nominated to the legislative assembly on political merit and proven good performance track record. The ugly scenes in the National Assembly in its ongoing session in Dodoma on Monday when some MPs, in the hero-turns-villain manner, resorted to acts that would put even the most notorious street hooligans to shame. Differences or differing opinion during sessions in legislative assemblies are inevitable.

It is a healthy democratic and legislative practice that has become an acceptable norm all over the democratic world. As the Speaker, Ms Anne Makinda, told the House in Dodoma yesterday when emphasizing on the need for MPs to respect rules and regulations following the disorder, such sessions are being watched live on TV throughout the country! Parliamentary sessions are a costly exercise.

A lot of money, taxpayers' money, is being spent each day the House meets. Tanzanians, millions of whom spent hours in queues under the scorching sun or pouring rain on polling day, to vote their preferred candidates into the House, are not amused by what they are seeing.

When the honourable ladies and gentlemen in the very body entrusted with the sacred duty of making or changing laws threaten to break the very laws they themselves have made, then there is something seriously amiss somewhere.

The parties with a representation in parliament have got their caucuses where any discontent should be channeled for discussion and setting of a special agenda for a proper and respectable presentation before the august House. It is high time MPs behaved respectably in the House.

Shouting others down or engaging in name calling and insults is not the proper way of venting anger or pushing an agenda. Our National Assembly is guided by a code of conduct that MPs should follow to the letter to avoid flouting of the rules. The MPs should be so guided.

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