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PCCB playing rough, say MPs

13th July 2010
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Attorney General, Judge Frederick Werema

Conflict has again surfaced between Members of Parliament and the national anti-corruption watchdog, the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB).

This time around, the legislators are alleging that PCCB is playing rough against them.

The MPs registered their complaints to Speaker Samwel Sitta yesterday, prompting Sitta to ask for legal advice from the Attorney General, Judge Frederick Werema.

In their complaints, the MPs alleged that PCCB officers were hounding legislators and arresting them in their constituencies where they were carrying out their work of helping the people as the country prepares for the October general election.

The MPs demanded to know the exact date of the elapse of their term of office, insisting that their understanding was that their tenure of office elapsed immediately after dissolution of Parliament.

They said it was after the dissolution of parliament that legislators were bound to stop all their duties in the constituencies.

This is the second time that legislators have clashed with PCCB. Last year MPs got into conflict with the anti-corruption watchdog over what was described as double allowances pocketed by legislators when their Parliamentary Standing committees were at work.

When calling on Judge Werema to clarify, Speaker Sitta said it sounded unfair for PCCB officials to book MPs while they were undertaking parliamentary responsibilities in their constituencies.

Sitta also wanted the Attorney General to explain when exactly MPs should stop playing parliamentary roles in their constituencies.

In his explanation, Judge Werema called on MPs to read thoroughly the Elections Expenses Act, 2009, especially Section 21 ( 1) ( a) with regard to influencing voters to make decisions in favour of a certain candidate during voting.

Judge Werema said the lifetime of the Parliament will be officially ended by a special Government Notice (GN) and not the day when the president addresses the House.

According to Judge Werema, MPs were allowed to continue executing their parliamentary duties in the constituencies even after Friday when President Jakaya Kikwete is scheduled to address Parliament.

“Many people think the lifetime of Parliament is ended by the president’s address (Dissolution of Parliament). Such a concept was wrong because the lifetime of the House is ended by the Government Notice,” Judge Werema stressed.

The Speaker later informed MPs that the Parliament was likely to be officially dissolved on August 1 by GN, a move that would signal the end of their tenure as legislators.

Speaking on the conflict between MPs and PCCB, Judge Werema said offering material of assistance to would-be voters should never be done under suspicious circumstances.

He said the gesture of MPs offering assistances, especially at this time, should be official in the sense that it should be made public and, if possible, at public rallies.

He added that offering aid or any assistance to individual voters and under suspicious environment was dangerous as it could be construed otherwise by law enforcers, especially PCCB officials.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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