New era as Lissu becomes president of bar association

As the packed TLS general meeting was wounding up business for the day, a probe team of five members was constituted to find out what happened to the society's funds, including a grant from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) where a 25m/- gap was found in the bar association's accounts.

Observers said the massive mandate given to the firebrand Singida East Member of Parliament and chief whip of the opposition CHADEMA party in the National Assembly was an indication that lawyers want to see change in the country's legal profession.

According to the voting results, Lissu garnered 1,411 votes out of a total of 1,682 votes cast.

His nearest rival in a field of four candidates, Victoria Mandari, got 176 votes equivalent to about 10 per cent of the ballot. Ex-Home Affairs minister Lawrence Masha withdrew his candidacy at the last minute and threw his weight behind Lissu.

The Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, warned recently that the government would not hesitate to disband TLS if it becomed politicised.

The Tanganyika Law Society was founded in 1954 by an Act of Parliament. Its statutory objectives, includes to "represent, protect and assist members of the legal profession in Tanzania as regards to conditions of practice and otherwise."

While campaigning for election, Lissu criticised the outgoing TLS leadership of "financial shenanigans" and of failing to protect lawyers from alleged harassment by state organs in the course of executing their duties.

Earlier when discussing the financial report for 2015/16, TLS members raised queries at alleged financial irregularities in the society.

Outgoing president John Seka said if a probe establishes any misconduct, those involved would face legal proceedings.

The queries were raised when members were going through the TLS financial report item by item, showing doubts on the listed expenditures.

“Last year you failed to explain yourselves, and this year you have failed again. This is unacceptable," said advocate Masha.

Masha’s position was echoed by advocate Edmund Ngemela who urged fellow TLS members to approve the formation of a probe committee.

Advocate Exavery Makwi queried the accuracy of financial proceeds from membership fees. On his part, advocate Andrew Kasaiz raised questions on the possibility of financial fraud within the society.

Advocate Amin Mshana demanded explanation on the whereabouts of a grant from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) worth 50 million/-, saying the society only reported receipt of 25m/-.