Several Cabinet ministers and ruling party CCM Members of Parliament were forced to join forces as they toiled to the maximum to tackle strong arguments from Shadow minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs, Tundu Lissu before passing the Judicial Administration Bill 2011.
Lissu, also an official spokesperson of the Opposition camp in the House faulted several provisions in the Bill as the Parliament convened as a Parliamentary Committee to go through all sections.
The sections which produced what could be termed as ‘drama’ were those deemed by Lissu and the Opposition camp as those interfering with the independence and impartiality of the Judiciary.
A total of four cabinet ministers, Attorney General and two CCM MPs hit back at Lissu, but the latter was resolute as a fighter and Speaker Anne Makinda hailed him for his impressive debating skills.
Lissu proposed that all such provisions be amended or removed from the bill so as to leave all matters related to the Judiciary be dealt with by the Judiciary itself through its formal mechanism.
Initially it appeared smooth-sailing but the mood changed after a few verbal exchanges between Lissu who is also MP for Singida East constituent on one hand and the Attorney General Fredrick Werema and Minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs Ms Celina Kombani on the other.
The drama intensified when it came to section 7, 8, 52 and 53 which provide for the establishment of the post of Chief Court Administrator, the qualifications for the post as well as terms and conditions.
While Tundu Lissu proposed that the appointee for the post should be endorsed by the Parliament, the AG and Minister Kombani argued that the President should remain the appointing authority and that there was no need for the appointee to be endorsed by any of other organ.
The current Constitution gives the President powers to make key appointments, including that of the Chief Justice.
AG also told Lissu to bear in mind that the President was also head of State and Commander- in- Chief.
The argument prompted Lissu to reply that his objective was to bring the imperial presidency to an end. He said such kind of presidency is where the President has excessive power to make key appointments without requirement for endorsement.
Lissu added that he neither intended to stop the president from being Commander- in- Chief nor moving a motion for his impeachment.
The issue of the Judiciary Services Commission and its function and powers also raised a storm, prompting ex-AG Andrew Chenge to intervene. Lissu then conceded that Chenge’s point was valid.
Another area which was debated at length was the qualification of the Chief Court Administrator.
Lissu proposed that apart from administration and finance qualifications and experience as drafted in the bill the candidate was supposed to have a legal background to make him more knowledgeable on the judiciary system, but the AG and minister Kombani disagreed.
The gland finale came on the passing of section 46, which proposed the establishment of disciplinary committees at various levels from national, regional and district levels.
Tundu, who several times reminded the House to consider keenly that proposed Law was going to affect the entire Judiciary and the nation at large, argued that the committee should not involve Regional Commissioners and District Commissioners who he termed as politicians representing the ruling party CCM.
He reminded fellow legislators that those officials also sat on the party’s regional and district political committees. Proposing, instead, that members should be professional s from Tanganyika law society and the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Then George Simbachawene CCM MP for Kibakwe said there was nothing bad in that practice.
After lengthy arguments the Speaker asked the House to know who supported Lissu’s motion and those who opposed. The voices of the two sides almost tied and Zitto Kabwe, Kigoma (North, Chadema) requested that the views of each MP should be sought separately.
Those who opposed Lissu emerged winners by 152 votes against 69 supporters as 128 MPs were absent
But a more notable and interesting incident was that Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda was among the supporters.
Lastly there were strong verbal exchanges between Lissu and Minister for East Africa Cooperation Samuel Sitta, on the budget of the Judiciary as the Lissu remarked:
“I respect him as he is respected in the society but I beg to differ with him on this matter as he Sitta is deadly wrong.” Sitta responded by saying he had never stood in the House and given bogus statement.
The Bill was eventually passed after the last intervention from Chief whip, William Lukuvi.