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Rights report decries empty seats in House

11th February 2011
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Political analyst Jenerali Ulimwengu (C), Legal & Human Rights Centre acting director Imelda Urio (R) and Deus Kibamba, a member of the team that prepared report on the performance of the Ninth Parliament (20052010), display copies of the report during its launch in Dar es Salaam yesterday. (Photo: Khalfan Said)

 

Human rights body yesterday exposed shortfalls on the performance of the ninth parliament and proposed radical reforms for more effective tenth parliament.

A report released by Legal Human Rights Centre (LHRC) titled: “Bunge Performance Assessment Report 2005-2010” indicated that despite registering major achievements, the ninth Parliament had weaknesses which the tenth Parliament should address.

Chairman for LHRC Parliamentary watchdog Deus Kibamba said in Dar es Salaam yesterday during official launch of the report that among the weaknesses was poor attendance and participation of Members of Parliament during the sessions.

“There are times when the seats in parliament are near empty, yet MPs continued to receive salaries and allowances. In future non-attendance in Parliament must be highly sanctioned,” Kibamba said.

He said attendance and participation in Parliamentary sessions should be made mandatory and compulsory for all elected Parliamentarians and representatives.

He said another weakness was the violation of the new Parliamentary Standing Orders where most of the MPs did not comply with some of the regulations as a result making contributions not effective.

“Often times a good number of MPs used a lot of time to thank voters, the “Speaker, the President and even their families instead of going directly into the debate,” he said.

He said basically the new standing orders were meant to ensure that time scheduled for discussion and debates of national issues was within the allocated time calling upon the Speaker to be stricter in the current Parliament.

Kibamba said currently the position of the law requires that the language to be used in the House shall be Kiswahili or English without code switching or mixing.

He said the use of code switching and mixing by MPs has been noted and was increasing, resulting into confusion to the community to the extent of not understanding what their representatives were saying.

Kibamba further said that the parliamentary silence on outdated constitution was another weakness. He said the desire for a brand new constitution was obvious from the numerous patches the current one bears.

The report also challenged the appointment of MPs who represent nobody, calling for its abolition. It claimed that it has been used by the President to award allies rather than appointing resourceful persons.

For his part a long-serving journalist Jenerali Ulimwengu who was the guest of honour called upon wananchi to ensure that they established a system which will ensure that Parliament fulfils its responsibilities.

He said the writing of the new constitution must involve all wananchi. “We should not allow the constitutional debate to be dominated by the government alone.”

“The need for a new constitution is meant to ensure that all people are involved in writing for the future of their nation,” Ulimwengu said.

He said if people were involved in writing their Constitution they would become familiar with it.

Meanwhile retired President Ali Hassan Mwinyi has said current development and political trends in Tanzania needed strong, competent, ethical, and visionary leaders who could withstand opposing forces and lead the country in the right direction.

The former head of state made the remarks on Wednesday during the sixth graduation ceremony of the Aga Khan University.

Mwinyi who was chief guest at the event held in Dar es Salaam, conferred degree and certificates on 132 graduates in the fields of nursing and education.

“The political situation and development achieved so far require strong leaders…leaders with acceptable leadership qualities and competencies,” he said.

He explained that the country’s development and political changes needed leaders capable of demonstrating decent behaviour and attitudes in the course of leading the nation.

Tanzania, he added, required leaders who were capable to assist the country see development opportunities and potentials and strategically engage fellow Tanzanians in the realisation of nation’s development goal and vision.

The former head of state asked the university graduates to review leadership roles and qualifications to see if they possess qualities of leaders the nation needs.

The President of Aga Khan University Firoz Rasul said as the East African Community is going through substantial changes in transforming the region into a single economic community, the question of providing equal opportunities to all people needed response.

“The answer lies in our ability to create and harness capacity in the abundant human potential that exists in the country,” Rasul said.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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