Dodoma — Opposition lawmakers yesterday took a swipe at President John Magufuli over several of his remarks, arguing that they were disturbing to members of the public and civil servants.
Debating the proposed budget for the President's Office yesterday, Ms Severina Mwijage (Special Seats-CUF), asked the President to retract his statement to the victims of last September Earthquake in Kagera Region.
Responding to growing concerns that his government had neglected the victims, the President said it wasn't him or his leadership that had caused the disaster and challenged the victims to bring normalcy to their lives on their own.
"That statement discouraged us, the people of Kagera. All we want of him is to retract the statement, even the Prime Minister (Kassim Majaliwa) can stand here (in Parliament) and retract it," she said.
According to her, the infrastructure, including two schools that the government promised to rebuild with all the donations, were yet to be completed.
For her part, Ms Upendo Peneza (Special Seats-Chadema) said the President started off on the wrong foot with abolishing indicative seminars for leaders (ministers and regional commissioners), while he too (the President) required one.
"The President is on record saying he tried his luck and got the presidency, he wasn't sure of himself. So, he needs an indicative seminar as well," she noted.
According to her, this has led to blatant violation of good governance and the rule of law principles in the country.
"President Magufuli started by criticising his predecessor, but things are hard on him now as well," she said, prompting the Minister of State in the President's Office (Regional Administration and Local Government), Mr George Simbachawene, to tell the House that there was no way President Magufuli would have criticised Mr Kikwete.
Ms Peneza then retracted the word 'criticise' and said "Dr Magufuli started by pointing out the errors of Mr Kikwete's presidency."
For his part, Rev Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban-Chadema) branded the whole government as "bullish", "shouting" and "intimidating".
"When we criticise the President and his government it is for the greater good of the country. We (MPs) are like a mirror to you (government), so if you don't like criticism, why are you even here?" he queried, adding: "We've intimidating, incompetent and unskilled people appointed leaders to lead very competent and skilled civil servants, and now the civil service is paralysed."
According to Rev Msigwa, even CCM lawmakers and ministers are afraid of the President and can't give him sound advice.
The deputy minister of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Ms Angelina Mabula, countered the statement, saying no one in the Cabinet was afraid of the President.
Contributing to the debate, Ms Angelina Malembeka (Special Seats-CCM) said the President wasn't obliged to listen to MPs since they "were always insulting him and his government."
"All his efforts are nothing to you (opposition). I'm of the opinion that even some MPs here are in need of indicative seminars as they don't understand why they are here," she said.
Meanwhile, debating the budget a number of MPs called for the government to address challenges experienced in the implementation of free education policy.
Mr Dua Nkurua (Nanyumbu-CCM) said, while a number of recruitment remarkably improved in his constituency, still there remained three main challenges: a shortage of classrooms, of toilets and of teachers houses.
"Last year Nanyumbu registered one of the worst results in national Standard Seven exams. There are internal factors that we can sort out at local level, but other factors like a shortage of 450 teachers is beyond our reach. Our students are like a football team without a coach. They can't register good results," he noted.
The problem of teachers was also raised by Ms Mwijage and Mr Suleiman Mourad (Mvomero-CCM). The latter said in his constituency there was a shortage of over 200 teachers.
Ms Juliana Shonza (Special Seats-CCM) advised the government to pay teachers their dues on time and ensure a capitation grant was spent as intended.