Tanzania: Zitto's Attempt to Block Questioning of CAG Hits Snag

ACT-WAZALENDO leader Zitto Kabwe's attempt to block Parliament from grilling Controller and Auditor General (CAG), Prof Mussa Assad, over his recent remarks against the legislature hit a snag yesterday.

This follows the decision by the High Court to refuse to admit a constitutional petition in which Zitto and other leaders from opposition parties sought to file a case against the decision of National Assembly Speaker, Job Ndugai over the matter.

Advocate Fatma Karume and Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) president, who is representing Zitto, told the media in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the High Court of Tanzania had refused to admit her clients' case on two basic reasons.

In a letter dated January 16, 2019 addressed to the advocate, the Office of the Registrar of the High Court stated that affidavits of other petitioners to the case had not been accompanied to the Chamber summons in support of the petition.

This means only Mr Zitto kabwe has prepared and attached to his affidavit to support the case in question.

Another reason advanced by the Registrar as the basis of refusing to admit the petition related to summons or order by the Speaker to the CAG is that in the letter the summons or order claimed to have been issued to the CAG by the Speaker of the National Assembly and, or the affidavit of the CAG to support the petition have not been attached as annexure.

Flanked by Mr Zitto, the advocate explained that they had filed the case since Monday, but there was dilly-dallying in admitting the same for reasons they could not know until yesterday, when they received the letter by the Registrar of the High Court over the refusal.

"We have gone to the Chief Justice to complain over the matter. The Chief Justice has directed the Principal Judge to find out and come up with a solution of the matter. He said the matter is under the Principal Judge and the Registrar of the High Court is under the Principal Judge," she said.

The advocate expressed her dissatisfaction with the way the High Court handed the matter by starting evaluating evidence without the court file been placed before a judge and even before affording parties to the petition to a right to be heard.

Mr Zitto added his voice by pointing out that it was wellknown that courts were temples of justice, but was saddened by the court to bar citizens to open cases to pursue justice. "If that is the position, where will the citizens go?" he queried.

Last week, the Speaker summoned the CAG before the Parliamentary Privileges, Ethics and Powers Committee over his remarks he made, while he was overseas that "Parliament is weak" having being quoted by one of the foreign radio stations.

Aggrieved by the statement, Mr Ndugai convened a press conference in the Capital City of Dodoma and launched a scathing attack on the CAG, demanding him to appear before the Parliamentary Committee on January 21, 2019 for interrogation to justify his statement.

Mr Ndugai told a full packed press conference that after subjecting the CAG to intensive grilling, the committee would advise him on the matter, adding that the House had been denigrated by statements made by two people on separate occasions.

"We are deeply saddened by CAG's statement, while abroad, where he was supposed to defend the country's image. It should be noted that we, as Parliament, are ready for criticisms, but not defamation," said the Speaker.

According to Ndugai, the CAG was responding to a question by a presenter of a US-based radio station, where he categorically stated that although his office was submitting audit reports after doing its tremendous job, the august House was not effectively working on his reports as required by the law.

"His (the CAG) response to the radio presenter that if Parliament were not working effectively on the reports, that could only be termed as Parliament's weakness," observed Mr Ndugai, adding that the CAG office was responsible for advising Parliament on appropriate steps to take.

Mr Ndugai pointed out that lawmakers were carrying out their duties effectively in advising the government, saying officers from the National Audit Office of Tanzania (NAOT), which Prof Assad headed, had unrestricted access to oversight committees of Parliament.

"NAOT officers are subofficials of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Local Authorities' Accounts Committee (LAAC), which receive and examine CAG reports. The officers are the ones advising the committees on actions that Parliament can undertake," he said.

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