Dar es Salaam — Parliament will be on the spotlight this week as the clock ticks towards the constitutional limit for the National Assembly to unveil the 2017/18 Controller and Auditor General Report.
Wednesday, April 10, 2019, will be the last day of the seven working days envisaged by Article 143 (4) of the Constitution, within which Parliament should have tabled the CAG report. The Controller and Auditor General, Prof Mussa Assad, delivered his report to the State House on March 28, 2019.
Upon receipt of the report, parliament is expected to table it, an act that makes the CAG audit public and allows for debate on the report by MPs and its access by the public.
But an ominous cloud hangs on the process, following a controversial motion last week by MPs to boycott working with Prof Assad, whom they accused of calling the House "weak."
Traditionally, the CAG holds a press conference in the precincts of parliament to publicly unveil his annual report. However, it remains to be seen how the Parliament motion against Prof Assad sits with his role over the next 72 hours.
The question now lingering in the minds of many people is what Parliament is likely to do upon receipt of the report. Will it block the report at this stage over the vote not to work with Prof Assad?
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai, last Thursday, however, said Parliament only voted not to work with Prof Assad and not the office of the CAG.
He said the matter of the vote against Prof Assad was being misinterpreted. Mr Ndugai said the Parliament will cross the bridge over the tabling of the report when it gets there.
Top legal minds and other commentators have said that the Parliament could cause a constitutional crisis by the decision not to work with Prof Assad. Their argument is that it would be unlikely for Parliament to boycott Prof Assad and accept his report as he was the constitutional holder of the office of the CAG.
Last week an advocate of the high court Jebra Kambole said Parliament must find the means of working with Prof Assad. His views were echoed by Prof Chris Maina of the University of Dar es Salaam who called for a truce.
On his part, Prof Assad said last week he had no hard feelings against the MPs. He told The Citizen on Friday that he was condemned unfairly. Prof Assad said he will be continuing with his work as usual, and yesterday confirmed he was in Dodoma ahead of the expected release of his report.
Meanwhile Change Tanzania, a public advocacy organisation, is planning to present a petition to the Parliament calling for the rescinding of the motion against Prof Assad.
The organisation had by last evening collected over 15,000 signatures through the online petition, the Change Tanzania National Coordinator Mshabaha Hamza Mshabaha said in an interview.
"Our concerns are primarily on the constitutional obligations that the Parliament may forfeit by refusing to work with the current CAG - Prof Assad," said Mr Mshabaha.
Elsewhere, ACT-Wazalendo youth wing publicity secretary Karma Kaila said at a briefing they will hold a peaceful procession in Dodoma in solidarity with the CAG.
and to ensure Parliament rescinds its boycott and tables the audit report.