The appointment of legislators yet to take parliamentary oaths to ministerial positions does not violate the country’s Constitution, Frederick Werema the Attorney General Judge clarified yesterday.
He said that before taking on their duties as ministers or deputy ministers the legislators are required to take oaths of allegiance to the President even if they have not taken their parliamentary oaths.
Article 55(4) explains that all ministers and deputy ministers shall be appointed from among members of parliament, leading some members of public to question the appointment to ministerial positions legislators who were yet to take the oaths of allegiance in the House.
President Jakaya Kikwete is today expected to swear in the new ministers and deputy ministers he appointed last Friday in the cabinet reshuffle.
AG Werema clarified that the two oaths were not related and could be performed at different times without breaching the constitution.
He said the constitution in the case took account of the situation where an appointment could be made when parliament was in recess.
He said article 68 of the country’s constitution which sets out that an MP has to take an oath of allegiance before participating in parliamentary sessions will be performed during the coming parliamentary session.
Judge Werema said the President had powers given under article 66(1)) (e) to appoint not more than ten members from amongst persons with qualifications specified under paragraphs (a) and (c) of subarticle (1) of Article 67 and, at least five members amongst them shall be women;
He further said that after such procedures it should be remembered that a person who has been appointed or elected as legislator becomes an MP after being pronounced so by a returning officer or after being appointed by National Electoral Commission specifically to special seats MPs or being elected by the House of Representatives or appointed by the President under article 66(1) (e).
He said such MPs don’t first need to swear in the House to confirm their status, adding that the oath in the House only serves to allow an MP to participate in parliamentary activities.
He said the country’s constitution does not state that before a ministerial appointment, such an MP must first take a parliamentary oath.
He further said that the two important conditions are that an appointee to the position of minister or deputy minister will not assume duty before taking the oath of allegiance to the President or any other oath related to his duties as stipulated in article 56.
The controversy arose after President Jakaya Kikwete appointed three MPs to ministerial positions before taking their oaths as legislators, with the public arguing that it was a violation of the constitution.
The ministers at the centre of the constitutional debate are the newly appointed minister for Energy and Minerals, Professor Sospeter Muhongo, and two Deputy Ministers, Janet Mbene and Saada Mkuya Salum, both at the Ministry of Finance.
Those who will be sworn-in are eight former ministers appointed to lead other ministries, seven new ministers and six deputy ministers who changed the ministries and other ten new deputy ministers.