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`Parliamentary committees flouting House procedures`

5th April 2012
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CCM Secretary General Wilson Mukama

CCM Secretary General Wilson Mukama yesterday expressed “disappointment” over what he saw as a tendency by parliamentary committee leaders to flout House standing orders by ruling on issues without observing laid down procedures.

He said some are known to usurp powers and pre-empt matters by publicly giving highlights of discussions they routinely hold with various people and institutions instead of tabling them at the House Speaker’s Office first for appropriate action.

Addressing journalists in Dar es Salaam, Mukama suggested that the committees were pre-empting the House “by furnishing the media with reports discussed in their meetings, which leaves the public confused”.

He said protocol demanded that the committees first submit the reports to the Speaker of the National Assembly, “who will then decide whether to have them tabled in the House for debate or other action”.

“But it has often not been so. Most committees give the reports to the media. This is not fair at all,” Mukama pointed out, urging the committees to observe the principle of natural justice by giving people their right to be heard before being judged.

“The committees have been disclosing practically everything to the public before giving the respective authorities or people time to explaining issues in connection with which they are accused,” he noted.

“They keep calling journalists, saying whatever they have been told by one side. This contravenes the principle of natural justice,” he added.

Contacted for comment, Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee chairman John Cheyo, advised the CCM executive to skim through the parliamentary standing orders applying in Tanzania before making comments of the nature he was making.

He said under the standing orders, journalists are at liberty to cover deliberations at the committees’ meetings in line with the principles of transparency and good governance “in order to inform and educate the public on goings-on in government and other public circles”.

George Simbachawene, Chairman of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Legal Affairs, meanwhile explained that parliamentary committee leaders have no power to disclose any information without permission from the House Speaker.

“I know some parliamentary committee chairpersons have been disclosing information without the said permission. But procedure demands that every report be submitted to the Speaker, who is the only one legally mandated to disclose it,” he said.

Mukama also used the occasion to deny involvement in a scandal revolving around the misuse of funds meant for the construction of a modern abattoir in Dar es Salaam.

“It’s true that I was Director of the Dar es Salaam City Council until 2006, but I never wrote any letters related to a plot to have the abattoir project come to a premature end,” he said. The decision is said to have occasioned loss amounting to a staggering 2.7bn/-.

According to Mukama, the letter in question was written when he was already permanent secretary to the Water ministry.

“I was appointed deputy permanent secretary to the Regional Administration and Local Government wing of the Prime Minister’s on January 20 in 2006 and retired from the public service while permanent secretary to the Water ministry. That’s why I find it strange being associated with the scandal allegations,” he said.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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