Academicians, activists, private sector and ordinary people have criticised paying sitting allowances to Members of Parliament and senior public servants in the face of poverty and rising costs of living for ordinary Tanzanians.
In a survey by The Guardian yesterday, most people said paying such money was unjustified when a significant number of Tanzanians survived on less than one dollar a day.
Ananilea Nkya, Executive Director of the Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) described the sitting as “daylight robbery”, which should be condemned by all Tanzanians.
“It’s totally against the principles of good governance…everybody, every Tanzanian, must condemn the package. We have to join forces and aggressively fight against sitting allowances to the MPs,” said Nkya.
She said the package should be scrapped immediately, noting: “This should be done regardless of whether the allowances are justified by law or customs or any regulation.”
Nkya said the allowances were being paid while millions of Tanzanians were facing critical problems, including poor health services, education, power crisis and shortages of other social services.
A political scientist and lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Dr Benson Bana criticised sitting allowances to the MPs and senior civil servants, saying: “My stand has always been clear on this issue. There is no justification of paying allowances to both MPs and senior government executives while executing their routine duties.”
Bana, who is an expert in human resources management, said there was no scientific evidence that
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sitting allowances could serve as a motivation to employees.
He added: “Sitting allowances to public leaders was not-duty facilitation allowance in meetings…it is not brain-facilitation allowance in meeting…it cannot be used as a motivational ingredient for improving performance of public leaders.”
The don said sitting allowances could be justified if paid after the respective leaders had worked beyond official hours, and not while executing their duties during the official hours.
Jaliath Rangi, Programme Officer of Dar es Salaam-based Human Development Trust (HDT) suggested that the billions of shillings currently being paid as sitting allowances to the MPs should be channelled to the pro-poor development programmes — roads infrastructure, construction of schools, water projects, etc.
He said it was unreasonable to pay huge sums of money in sitting allowances to the MPs, noting: “Monthly salaries and other allowances given to them are more than enough.”
Kamili Mmbando, coordinator of programmes of Dar es Salaam-based public relations firm, Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) criticised the sitting allowances to the MPs, but was of the view that allowances to the public servants should stay.
“MPs have many allowances…these should be scrapped. But it is unfair to scrap allowances for public servants who are lowly-paid. Allowances serve as incentives to them,” said Mmbando.
The public views come in the wake of pressure from opposition MPs, led by Chadema legislators to scrap sitting allowances on the premise that the package amounted to misuse of public resources.
After extensive and heated debates over the issue in the august House, the Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda said recently that the MPs’ allowances were a constitutional matter and that they could not be scrapped just like that.
On Thursday opposition leader in the Parliament, Freeman Mbowe was quoted as saying that Chadema planned to write a letter to the Clerk of National Assembly not to give the party’s MPs sitting allowances.