15 March 2019

Tanzania: We Will Respond to Lissu Salary Claims - Speaker

Dar es Salaam — Singida East Member of Parliament Tundu Lissu claimed on Wednesday that he had not received his salary and allowances for two months, but House Speaker Job Ndugai said the administration of the National Assembly will respond to the allegations after consultations.

"I haven't seen his statement. The matter may have been propagated by social media. However, you need to be patient as this matter requires consultations before a response is made," he said in a telephone interview.

He, therefore, neither admitted nor denied the allegations raised by Mr Lissu. The Opposition firebrand lawmaker has been undergoing treatment abroad since he miraculously survived an assassination attempt in September 2017.

"I'm leading an institution with over 600 members of staff, including lawmakers. It is difficult for me to immediately establish the status of payment of each and every employee," the Speaker said.

He added quickly: "We will respond to the whole issue within two to three days after we make consultations."

Earlier, the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Stephen Kagaigai, declined to comment on the matter when contacted by The Citizen. He simply stated he had not seen the statement.

But, on March 13, Mr Lissu said in a statement that a discussion was held at Parliament on the matter aimed at blessing decisions made outside parliamentary settings.

"I ask parliamentary leaders, Speaker Ndugai and Mr Kagaigai, to revisit their decision and pay my salaries and allowances immediately and without conditions," he said.

Mr Ndugai said in Parliament on Thursday, February 7, 2019, that Parliament would consider suspension of all payments to the Singida East lawmaker if the law making organ would not receive official information about the whereabouts of the outspoken politician. He said Mr Lissu had not informed him of his whereabouts nor had he submitted any medical report to the Speaker's office.

But on Wednesday, Mr Lissu, the Opposition Chief Whip, said he had directed his lawyers to start legal proceedings at the High Court, demanding resumption of withheld benefits and protecting them against future interferences.

He said the decision contravened Article 73 of the Constitution and Section 19 of the Parliamentary Proceedings Act, 2008, on a lawmaker's rights to salaries and allowances.

He argued that "salaries and allowances should only be stripped off legislators disqualified to hold the position.

"This can happen only when someone is elected as president, fails to attend the seatings without Speaker's permission and those nominated as the vice president," reads part of his statement, adding:

"Benefits could be denied due to retirement and death of the MP. Standing Orders also stipulate that salary and allowances may be affected due to suspension of the MP. However, Standing Orders require that the suspended MP should receive half pay, although I'm concerned with the section."

Mr Lissu, therefore, said the decision was illegal taking into consideration the country's Constitution, laws and the parliamentary Standing Orders, noting that no letter had ever been served to him seeking explanation why the decision shouldn't be effected against him.

He said the Parliamentary Services Commission requires that National Assembly to send its doctors or medical counselor from the country's embassy to a respective country where the MP is receiving treatment to monitor his/her condition and send a report to Parliament.

"No Bunge medical officer or counselor or has visited me here to this day. Moreover, no letter has ever been sent to me to inform me of the decision and the reasons behind. But, this is the second month I haven't been paid," he said.

Mr Lissu is receiving treatment in a Belgium hospital after surviving assassination by unknown assailants in Dodoma on September 7, 2017.

The MP, who is also the Chadema head of legal affairs, was initially admitted at a hospital in Kenya where he was taken immediately after the attack.

Related stories:

Lissu dares Speaker to cancel salary in new tiff

Lissu salary 'suspended'

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