10 January 2019

Tanzania: Apologise for Damaging CAG Reputation, Ndugai Advised

Photo: The Citizen Tanzania
President John Magufuli (file photo).

Zanzibar — Civic United Front secretary general Seif Shariff Hamad has advised Parliamentary Speaker Job Ndugai to apologise for ordering Controller and Auditor General (CAG) Mussa Assad on Monday to appear before the House's Privileges, Ethics and Powers Committee on his own volition on January 21 2019, or be brought before it in handcuffs.

The dispute between the Speaker and the CAG is about Prof Assad's interview with the UN Kiswahili Service that the National Audit Office prepares reports which are supposed to be worked on by Parliament, but hs never been the case.

"If we produce reports - and no action is taken - to me, that's a weakness of Parliament... I believe it is a challenge that should be worked on... Parliament is failing to exercise its responsibilities effectively," Prof Assad reportedly said.

In response, Mr Ndugai said that Prof Assad - who formerly taught Accounting at the University of Dar es Salaam as associate professor - should appear before the Parliamentary Privileges, Ethics and Powers Committee on January 21 - to respond to allegations of disrespecting the Parliament.

Since then, analysts have been divided over the Speaker's decision, with others questioning the legality of the utterance in the light of immunity and autonomy that the CAG enjoys under Articles 143 and 144 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, which is also repeated under the National Audit Act, 2008.

Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, Mr Hamad criticised Mr Ndugai and told him to apologise to the CAG for uttering what he termed as 'unpleasant words' against the CAG.

"What the CAG did was part of what he was required to do in the execution of his duties in line with the law. He never disrespected the Parliament as claimed by Mr Ndugai," according to Mr Hamad.

He said after seeing that reports by his institution were not being worked on by Parliament, he was only being frank by speaking his mind regarding what is happening within the bodies that are entrusted with watchdog roles over public funds. "By saying there were some weaknesses in Parliament, he was only portraying his frustrations upon seeing that most of the reports prepared by his office are only left to gather dust in Parliament's book shelves," he said.

What was ailing the country at present, said Mr Hamad, was the fact that Parliament was full of MPs from a single party and therefore, views from legislators from other parties were not being taken seriously.

"Proclaiming openly that you will use handcuffs to bring him before a Parliamentary Committee does not go down well with many people... .Those entrusted with public offices must exercise their powers within the legal framework so that they do not end up creating unnecessary commotion."

University of Dodoma political scientist Paul Luisulie is of the opinion that what brings misunderstandings between the organs of accountability, like Parliament and the office of CAG, is the feeling that "the other one" does not perform its responsibilities as it is supposed to.

"There is normally that tendency of witch-hunting and blame game that oftentimes tend to pit these organs against one another. Each perceives the other as negligent of its duties and when it gets to that point the situation becomes so tense that it becomes difficult to control," said a political scientist from the University of Dodoma, Dr Paul Luisulie.

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