Nyamagana MP Ezekiel Wenje was yesterday ordered out of the National Assembly for being ‘disrespectful’ to the chair, following a heated exchange with the House chairperson, Sylvester Mabumba.
The drama started during question-and-answer session when several MPs sought the Speaker’s guidance on some of the issues raised in the House.
Singida East legislator, Tundu Lissu (Chadema) had posed a supplementary question on why schools were demanding contributions from parents, contrary to government directives.
To substantiate his claims, the outspoken MP produced a letter dated May 2nd, 2005 authored by the then Singida District Commissioner, James Yamungu, directing parents to contribute to school and other development activities.
He accused the deputy local governments minister (education), Kassim Majaliwa, of deceiving the House when he said that the government had never ordered parents to contribute to school development.
However, before Lissu had finished his supplementary question, the chairperson Mabumba intervened: “Sit down sit down, if you have concrete evidence, present it to the Speaker.”
When Lissu attempted to continue, the chairman stopped him, blaming him for calling the deputy minister a liar.
The chairman also prevented the deputy minister from responding to Lissu’s claims, but deputy minister Majaliwa went on to say: “The government cannot direct wananchi to contribute to school development programmes. These arrangements are done at village and local governments levels.”
The Minister of State in the President’s Office (Public Relations and Coordination) Stephen Wasira also intervened, underlining the importance of people’s contributions towards school development activities.
The House chairman gave Tundu Lissu until 11:00 am to present his evidence to the office of the Clerk of the National Assembly or the Speaker.
But Kasulu Urban MP, Moses Machali rose and asked for guidance of the chair, saying: “Lissu’s claims are true…the minister must give detailed explanations.”
“Please sit down…sit down! You have to respect the chair which controls proceedings in accordance with rules and regulations,” said Mabumba, before Chief Whip and State Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, (Policy, Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs), William Lukuvi, intervened and asked the House to cool down to allow the chairman direct Lissu on modalities of presenting his evidence.
“This issue is not so serious. If Lissu cannot present his evidence at 11.00 am, then he should present written evidence to the Speaker/Parliament chairman,” he said.
But Kasulu Urban legislator, Machali stood again, accusing the chair of not being fair to the Singida East MP.
Moments after the chairman cut short Machali’s speech, Hezekiah Wenje rose up, and sought the Speaker’s guidance, but started to speak before being granted permission.
The situation became tenser when the Acting Clerk of National Assembly, John Joel and the Parliament’s chairperson, Jenister Muhagama stepped in to support the presiding chairman Mabumba — in attempts to restore calm and order in the House.
However, their efforts did not bear fruit as Mabumba and Wenje exchanged bitter words, prompting the chairman to order the House security guards to take Wenje out of the debating chamber.
Winding up the morning session, the presiding chairman, Mabumba said: “Because of the prevailing situation, Wenje is allowed to attend the evening session. I did this because the MP respected the chair’s order of getting out of the House,” noted Mabumba.
Speaking to journalists outside the House, Wenje accused the presiding chairman of incompetence in managing the Bunge session.
“He prevented me from talking about an issue of national interest. I wanted to talk about 1,024 tonnes of imported poisonous fish from Japan, which have been distributed to Morogoro and Kilombero,” said the MP.
Meanwhile Lissu, has once again cited what he termed as improper treatment from presiding leaders of parliamentary sessions, accusing them of deliberately defending ministers.
He told a media conference here that what happened in the house yesterday was a clear picture that, House chair of the particular session; Sylvester Mabumba acted in defence of the deputy minister, who he had initially accused of telling lies before the National Assembly.
Lissu was referring to the decision by Mabumba to order for submission of evidence following the accusation raised against Deputy Minister Majaliwa, but delaying its presentation when it was ready.
‘This is not proper, it has been a trend now, whenever the opposition camp has a point to prove by concrete evidence available, the presiding leader denies it that opportunity in order to safeguard the government interests’ said Lissu.