14 September 2017

Tanzania: Speaker Threatens Indefinite Ban On Zitto

Dodoma — Speaker of the National Assembly Job Ndugai yesterday directed Kigoma Urban MP Zitto Kabwe (ACT-Wazalendo) to be grilled by the Parliamentary Ethics Committee following his comments on social media.

Mr Ndugai also threatened to ban him from speaking in Parliament indefinitely.

On Tuesday, the Speaker directed the Parliamentary Ethics Committee to grill Mr Kabwe after he criticised him for handing over two reports by two Parliamentary teams formed to investigate tanzanite and diamond mining before they were debated in Parliament.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday morning, Mr Ndugai directed the committee to grill Mr Kabwe over his remarks on social media that the Speaker undermined the Parliament in favour of the Executive. Mr Kabwe wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that Mr Ndugai's performance was far behind his predecessors, Mr Samuel Sitta and Ms Anne Makinda.

"Ndugai was dreaming to achieve a quarter of what Sitta achieved, but he has not achieved even 10 per cent of Ms Makinda's performance," wrote Mr Kabwe.

Responding to Mr Kabwe's accusations, Mr Ndugai said the Kigoma Urban MP risked a long-term ban from speaking in Parliament.

"During the 9th parliament under Mr Sitta, Mr Kabwe was banned from the House for three months. Does he want me to go at that speed?" the Speaker queried.

"I can ban him from speaking in the House indefinitely because I have the powers... I advise him not to invite problems because he can fight anyone, but not Ndugai," he remarked. Shortly after the announcement, Mr Kabwe accused the Speaker of charging him to divert public attention from the condition of Singida East MP, who is admitted to the Agha Kahn Hospital in Nairobi after he was shot by unidentified assailants.

"I have realised that Speaker Ndugai has pressed a charge against me to divert public attention from Mr Lissu's shooting. I have decided not to let them do so," wrote Mr Kabwe on his Twitter.

Mr Ndugai's threat to ban Mr Kabwe from speaking in Parliament drew criticism from some social media users.

Zanzibar Law Society (ZLS) president Said Omar Shaaban wrote in his Facebook account that if the Speaker had powers to prevent someone from speaking in parliament indefinitely, then the Parliamentary Standing Orders were dictatorial.

A social media user, who identifies himself as Luqman Maloto wrote: "The Speaker must understand that there is a title and the legitimacy to hoard that title."

On Tuesday, Mr Ndugai said Mr Kabwe should go to the committee to explain his recent remarks over the two reports presented by two committees, which investigated gemstone business and mining in the country.

In his remarks, Mr Kabwe said the House powers were compromised, when the two committees that investigated diamond and tanzanite mining submitted their reports to the government. Mr Kabwe was quoted as suggesting that the committees' reports should have been tabled in parliament instead of being handed over to the government.

The Speaker also directed Ubungo MP Saed Kubenea (Chadema) to report to the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security Committee for questioning following his remarks about Mr Lissu's shooting.

He will also be questioned by the Ethics committee to prove the allegations that Speaker lied to the National Assembly by saying that Mr Lissu's vehicle was shot with between 28 and 32 bullets.

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