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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Heated exchange over House polls

14th April 2011

Members of Parliament from CCM and Chadema yesterday differed to the extent of shouting at each other over the decision by the Parliamentary Steering Committee to endorse only three names, instead of six for House chairpersons’ election.

National Assembly speaker Anne Makinda was forced to intervene after legislators from the two sides exchanged bitter words.

All started when the speaker informed parliamentarians about House chairperson’s election and introduced names of three MPs – Jenista Mhagama (Peramiho), George Simbachawene (Kibakwe) and Sylvester Mabumba (Dole – all from the ruling party, as nominees for the chairperson posts.

Special Seats MP Raya Ibrahim Khamis (Chadema) rose to query the reason behind bringing to the House for voting only three names, while parliamentary standing orders allowed nomination of up to six MPs.

“Why present only three names, instead of six, as stipulated in the parliamentary standing order No. 11 (a) (b) (c)?” she queried. Clarifying, Makinda said the names were endorsed by the Steering Committee, which she chaired.

According to her, members of the committee are drawn from chairpersons of various parliamentary standing committees, who she said had endorsed the three names for legislators’ endorsement.

Makinda further clarified that according to the House standing orders only chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of parliamentary standing committees qualify for the post of Parliament chairperson.

“Other people (chairpersons and their vices) were not interested to contest for the posts…they were there, but they did not fill in the nomination forms. That’s why we approved these three names. I have presented only these because there were no other candidates,” she explained.

Vividly dissatisfied, Nyamagana legislator Ezekiel Wenje (Chadema) rose to angrily criticise the Steering Committee’s decision to endorse only three names, despite speaker’s clarification, branding the committee meeting that sat to endorse the names as “a dark market.”

Makinda was forced to rise again to reiterate her earlier statement, reminding MPs that the decision had been endorsed by all sides – the government, leaders of opposition and their deputies.

Kigoma Urban MP Peter Serukamba (CCM) chipped in, demanding that Wenje withdraw his statement that the parliamentary committee that endorsed the three names was “dark market.”

Serukamba was supported by other ruling party MPs, who started shouting at Wenje: “Withdraw your statements…withdraw the words…get out of the House…Honourable Speaker kick him out!”

Makinda’s efforts to cool down the MPs did not bear fruit, as a result the House turned witnessed a spell of chaos where lawmakers screamed and shouted at each other.

“Please, I want all Honourable MPs to keep quiet…you are doing a wrong thing…everybody is witnessing what you are doing. The whole country is watching you,” she appealed.

In the course of clarifying parliamentary rules, Attorney General Frederick Werema intervened and asked the Nyamagana MP to withdraw his statement.

Kigoma-north legislator and deputy leader of opposition Kabwe Zitto (Chadema) stood up, and said: “It was true that the three names were endorsed by the Parliamentary Steering Committee, but forms were distributed to other candidates who were interested to contest…other candidates did not show up, because they did not receive forms.”

Under mounting pressure, Wenje rose again and said: “I will call it the white market.”

However, State Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Wiliam Lukuvi rose to move a motion for temporarily putting aside parliamentary standing order No 11 (a), (b) and (c) so that the election could proceed.

In the end, the three names were unanimously approved for the post of House chairpersons.

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