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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Tango: CCM Special Seats MPs not sole representatives of NGOs

24th November 2010

The Tanzania Association of Non Governmental Organisations (Tango) said yesterday it was completely wrong for CCM Special Seats lawmakers for the NGO category to consider themselves sole representatives of the organisations.

Instead of pretending to represent the organisations, the NGOs’ umbrella body said the MPs should pose as representatives for communities and not for NGOs.

In an interview with The Guardian yesterday, Tango Policy and Advocacy Officer, Ngunga Tepani said the move by the CCM Special Seats lawmakers to continue claiming that they were representing NGOs was wrong and a distortion of reality.

According to the official, the MPs had not gone through NGOs procedures, but instead were picked through a mechanism of the ruling party.

“This would distort the whole meaning of representatives of NGOs in Parliament. We are not partisans and we are not involved in politics. So we have no NGOs representatives in Parliament,” insisted Tepani.

He said given the present trend, it was not easy for NGOs to accept that they have representatives in Parliament, urging that the MPs should not associate their political ambitions with the NGOs procedures.

“It has to be known that NGOs are non-partisan. We are not involved in politics as they claim. It would be of importance if they say they have used proper and legal CCM procedures to acquire specials seats instead of saying that they are representing NGOs…that amounts to distorting the image of NGOs,” said Tepani.

When contacted, CCM Women Wing (UWT) Chairperson Sophia Simba clarified on the controversial procedures used by the ruling party to pick its NGOs category legislators she said the procedures were clear and transparent.

“All CCM and UWT women members know these procedures,” Simba said in an exclusive interview with The Guardian yesterday.

Controversy on the procedures used to pick CCM Special Seats representatives from NGOs came into light after activists queried how the ruling party picked Rita Mlaki and Anna Abdallah as legislators for the NGOs category.

Tango chipped in saying it was not involved in the processes of picking the two.

The intervention invoked negative reactions from respective lawmakers, who said they did not understanding what Tango was up to.

CCM Women Wing chairperson Sophia Simba trying to clear the air dismissed the claims by the activists as unfounded.

“I am sure, NGO representatives who are currently complaining are not members of CCM and UWT…if they were our members, they would have known these procedures…they are so clear, every active UWT member knows them,” she insisted.

The procedures were announced in the media and other communication channels she said, adding that the CCM women wing took trouble to sensitise its members affiliated to NGOs across the country to contest for the NGOs category Special Seats.

She said the women wing also instructed its members from different NGOs countrywide to organise themselves and elect one candidate who would contest for the seats and submit the same to the UWT council for screening in order to come up with the lawmakers for the NGO category.

“Rita Mlaki and Anna Abdallah passed through these procedures. Based on this I see no reason for the complaints,” she noted.

She explained that in this year’s General Election, only seven regions submitted names for Special Seats category to the CCM Women Wing Council, noting that others “regions did not show interest in taking part in the processes.”

“In the process, council members picked two names—Rita Mlaki to represent Dar es Salaam Region and Anna Abdallah to represent Mtwara Region. It then submitted the names to the CCM top organs,” Simba said.

She clarified that the party Special Seats-NGOs category were open only to CCM and its Women wing members, adding that Tango and other NGO representatives were complaining because they were not members of CCM or its women wing.

Asked if there was a criterion or system set by the National Electoral Commission for political parties to pick Special Seats lawmakers, NEC chairman Judge Lewis Makame said: “To us (the Commission) Special Seats mean Special Seats for women and not other categories. These seats are distributed to the parties on the basis of the percentages they have scored in the elections.”

According to Justice Makame, other categories—“NGOs, disabled, higher learning institutions, youth are criteria used by parties to get their women Special Seats MPs…and are internal dynamics of parties. We are not involved in their internal affairs.”

On Monday, CCM Special Seats lawmakers on the NGOs category told Tango officials to keep quiet as they were ignorant of the procedures of picking the parliament representatives.

Registering their stands yesterday Rita Mlaki and Anna Abdallah said they did not understand what Tango was fighting for.

In a telephone interview with this paper, Mlaki rubbished Tango claims, telling the organization officials to ‘shut up’ or else, join CCM.

“I was picked by the CCM Women Wing (UWT) and CCM under the NGOs category and those who say that they do not recognise me, they should register themselves with the party,” she shouted.

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