Members of Parliament for Chadema and NCCR-Mageuzi announced yesterday that they will no longer participate in the debate and passing of the Constitutional Review Bill, 2011 but will rather speak directly to wananchi.
Speaking to reporters here yesterday, Secretary for opposition MPs, John Mnyika said they will air their views concerning the bill straight to the public. He said they have requested the party to call an emergency central committee meeting to discuss the matter.
Mnyika said the party’s central committee will be held on Thursday. He added: “We have agreed to take the matter to the public court…so we have requested for support from the party because the matter requires political support.”
He said the opposition camp in parliament opposed the bill to be read for the second time because since it was translated in Kiswahili it has never been taken to the public for discussion. He said the central committee would decide on the steps to be taken by the camp.
He also requested President Jakaya Kikwete to stop the ongoing process since it is against the law and has violated parliamentary regulations.
Mnyika said they would not officially write to Speaker of the
National Assembly, Anna Makinda on their stand since they made it clear when presenting the opposition’s opinions on Monday when the bill was tabled in parliament for the second time.
He said early on Tuesday when asked to give opinions on Chadema’s decision to walk out of the parliament by Erasto Zambi, Mbozi East (CCM), the Speaker said she was unaware of the move, and thought they were going for breakfast.
“Our stand was read in parliament and is in the parliamentary records,” he said.
According to Mnyika, the opposition camp presented a motion to stop the Constitutional Review Bill, 2011 from being read for the second time and was supported by Chadema MPs. He said despite the move, Speaker Makinda wasn’t ready to allow voting within the house, and forced it to be tabled.
“We are not ready to participate in the exercise which violates the Constitution and parliamentary laws”, he noted.
Mhambwe legislator, Felix Mkosamali (NCCR-Mageuzi) clarified that all the party MPs are against the bill being read for the second time, but their two fellows decided to participate in the debate because they wanted to air their views through the parliament.
According to him, the Bill has no legitimacy since it has not followed Parliamentary regulations. He said MPs were denied chance to speak when the bill was tabled, though the constitution allows them to say anything while in the house.
“To my surprise, the MPs are currently not debating the tabled bill but rather attacking the opposition,” he said.
Kigoma South MP, David Kafulila said it was important for wananchi to participate and air their views before the bill was tabled, and that was the reason for demanding that it be translated into Kiswahili.
“We decided to do this for the record…because we have tried to argue with them inside and outside the parliamentary committee, but it seems that they had already agreed to let the process continue,” he explained.
He said that their views on the contents of the bill will be provided straight to the public, adding: “Let them debate and vote for the bill. We don’t want to take part in an exercise that violates the people’s rights. Constitution is more than election, and will last for decades…it should be properly prepared,” he said.
When asked on the sidelines, the Acting Clerk of the National Assembly, John Joel said Chadema and NCCR-Mageuzi members of parliament who have opted to pull out of the constitutional review process have not committed any offense and therefore were not subjected to any penalty.
“What they have done is to express their feelings. There is nothing wrong in doing that and they don’t deserve any punishment,” he said.