‘RESPECT BUNGE, PLEASE’

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AfricaPress-Tanzania: SPEAKER of the National Assembly Job Ndugai has issued a strong worded warning against political leaders for contempt of Parliament, saying offenders’ risk the wrath of one of state pillars.

Speaker Ndugai made the remarks immediately after he had administered an oath of integrity to the two newly nominated lawmakers, Mr Humpherey Polepole and Ms Riziki Lulida at Bunge grounds here on Monday.

Not mincing his words, Speaker Ndugai pointed fingers at Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) Chairman Mr Freeman Mbowe and his Secretary General Mr John Mnyika for ridiculing the House procedures and Standing Orders.

He said the top Chadema leaders erred to accuse Speaker and the Parliament of illegally swearing in the 19 Chadema Special Seats legislators outside the debating chamber on November 24, 2020, insisting that all the procedures are clear and documented.

“It is unfathomed that Chadema top leaders as well as a section of media report that the decision to swear-in new MPs outside the debating chamber was questionable,” Ndugai remarked.

In his defence, the speaker explained that the parliament resolved to amend its Standing Orders to match-up with the changing demands. He said the new practice is also exercised in several other commonwealths’ parliaments.

Citing section 30-2(b) of the Parliamentary Standing Orders, adopted by MPs in the 11th Parliament in June 2019, Mr Ndugai said: “The House Standing Orders are categorical that if any MP will be elected or appointed as per the requirement of the law, he/she will be sworn in by the House Speaker at any place that will be deemed appropriate and the Speaker shall inform the August House in the next parliamentary session according to the schedule.”

“This style is used in many countries and I chose this place (outside parliament grounds) to swear in these lawmakers so that they can be able to start representing their people as MPs,” he insisted, reminding that he would inform the House in the next Parliament scheduled for February 2, 2021.

He said he decided not to wait until February 2021 because the MPs are representing people who have high expectations and they want to see their representatives working on the problems they are facing.

In Venezuela, for instance, he said newly elected MPs are sworn in prior to entering the debating chambers and the speaker may administer an oath at the Bar of the House.

“In England’s House of Commons, the Speaker administer an oath of integrity in his office,” he said, explaining that considering such exercise is held within the parliamentary grounds it should not be questioned.

He warned against ridiculing such procedures, describing it as contempt of Parliament, which is tantamount to punishable offence.

Speaker Ndugai remained unwavering, insisting that the 19 Chadema Special Seats legislators together with one elected MP will remain legit, despite sacking claims by their party.

“The 19 Special Seats together with one elected Chadema legislators will cling to their Parliamentary seats and privileges,” insisted Speaker Ndugai.

Last Friday, Mr Mbowe announced that the party’s Central Committee had not only stripped the 19 of their membership but banned them from assuming any responsibilities on behalf of the party. He said Chadema would also challenge their nomination as MPs in court,

Mr Mbowe who emotionally disassociated his name from any decision to have the 19 take an oath as MPs, returned the ball in the court of Halima Mdee and company who had insinuated that they had the party’s blessings.

According to the Constitution of 1977, a Member of Parliament loses the seat if they are no longer members of a political party. Mr Ndugai told a gathering during the swearing-in ceremony held outside the parliamentary building that the decision to fire Ms Mdee and 18 other was an attack against women.

“We will continue to recognize all the MPs who took their oath as nothing but legitimate,” the Speaker and MP for Kongwa constituency said, adding: “Only if they would wish not to take part in the legislative process as a matter of constitution … but here, they are still legitimate MPs.”

Mdee and 18 other women from Chadema faced another tide in their political career after their party denounced their nomination to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) for possible appointment as special seat legislators.

The MPs who took the oath of integrity in Dodoma last week were letter summoned by the CHADEMA’s Secretary-General John Mnyika to appear before the party’s central committee for questioning.

“The question is why only the 19 MPs. We have another MP from Chadema, who was also sworn in but she is left untouched,” Ndugai said.

The speaker went on to note that while the country and the globe is struggling to empower women, some people including women are also fighting to discredit such initiatives. He warned, however, of individuals and institutions who are trying to tarnish the image and work of the parliament including its management.

Mr Polepole and Ms Lulida now makes a total number of MPs to 370. The full house involves a total of 393 MPs the pending number involves eight appointees from the President John Magufuli and five seats from the House of Representatives.

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