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Emotions derail Bunge debate

5th February 2013
  Opposition claim unfair treatment of their motions
Opposition legislators shoot up in the National Assembly debating chamber in Dodoma yesterday to protest Deputy Speaker Job Ndugai’s decision to accept Water minister Prof Jumanne Maghembe’s statement countering a private motion tabled in the House shortly earlier by Ubungo MP (Chadema) John Mnyika. (Photo: Khalfan Said)

The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Job Ndugai, yesterday suspended the evening session of the house following, commotion in the assembly’s debating chamber.

The drama started when Water Minister, Prof Jumanne Maghembe wanted the motion, brought in the house by Ubungo MP John Mnyika to be removed as the government was working on all stated water-related challenges.

Thing got out of control when Tundu Lissu (Singida East, Chadema), stood up asking for Deputy Speaker’s guidance on why Minister Maghembe exceeded the 15 minutes he was given to debate the motion.

“I am wondering why the minister is treated differently, while he was given a chance to contribute to Mnyika’s motion, as is the case with other MPs?” Lissu queried.

He noted that the minister exceeded the set duration, contrary to the parliamentary standing orders.

The deputy speaker reacted by asking Minister Maghembe to sum up his arguments, giving him three more minutes to do so.

The deputy speaker then asked the house to react to Maghembe’s contribution and ruled that CCM MPs had won in the debate. This shouts from Chadema and NCCR-Mageuzi MPs.

Ndugai then called on Kawe MP, Halima Mdee (Chadema), to start contributing to the motion. The MP said that some parliamentary standing orders Numbers 57 and 58 had been deliberately ignored in addressing Mnyika’s motion.

She said that the orders don’t allow an MP to amend an entire motion that was moved by a fellow lawmaker, saying: “This shows how opposition MPs as not treated fairly in the house.”

The Deputy Speaker however, stopped MP Mdee promising that he will give her another chance to continue with her contributions.

That prompted Chadema MPs to stand up, protesting against the speaker’s decisions. CCM MPs also stood up and began speaking without order, causing a commotion in the house.

Deputy Speaker Ndugai gave Mdee her last chance to continue contributing on the matter, but the Kawe MP refused, prompting Ndugai to call Zarina Madabida (Special Seats, CCM).

Madabida’s contribution was disrupted by Mnyika, who stood on a point of information, but he was interrupted by MPs’ noises.

The deputy speaker tried to bring the house back to order, but in vein, forcing him to consult Attorney General Judge, Frederick Werema on the next step.

While this was happening, Chadema MPs were heard chanting “CCM, CCM, CCM….”

After failing to contain the situation, the deputy speaker, suspended the evening session and called meeting of the Parliamentary steering Committee to discuss the matter.

Speaking outside the debating chamber Lissu said: “We are tired of being bulldozed by the Speaker’s chair…we had a touching motion but the deputy speaker, seems to be in favour of the government.”

AG Werema quickly said: “This is a challenge in the multiparty parliaments…tolerance is highly needed in these kinds of democracy.”

Earlier MP Mnyika moving the motion had appealed to the House to discuss and endorse swift and practical measures to address the worsening situation in Tanzania’s commercial city.

In his nine-page motion, Mnyika asked the government to bring in the House, a special water plan, geared to improve clean and safe water, sewerage infrastructures in Dar es Salaam, which is currently home to more than 4.5 million people.

Mnyika said the metropolitan city is facing serious shortage of clean and safe water, putting millions of city dwellers at risk of contracting water-borne diseases as they are forced to use water which is unfit for human consumption. “Water shortage has been a very serious challenge to low-income earners in the city as it takes a large share of the family budget. On average a bucket of 20 litres is sold at between 300/- and 500/-, too high for a person who survives below US$1 a day,” the opposition MP said.

He explained that between 2003 and 2010, the government implemented the Dar es Salaam Water and Sanitation Project (DWSSP), geared at rehabilitating and expanding water and sewerage project in Dar es Salaam as well as areas of Bagamoyo and Kibaha.

The project consumed billions of shillings, but failed to bring water to city dwellers.

According to the MP, over 263bn/- was spent, but many places of the city are without water, while production has gone down to a minimal level.

“This has been also attributed to a number of factors including high level of water leakage, which is at 50 per cent and mostly lost during transporting water to consumers, poor water supply system as well as corruption,” the MP revealed. 

"This is a very serious concern to many Dar es Salaam city dwellers because they have water pipes but no single drop of water comes out when they open the taps. I call upon the government to provide explanations as to why the situation is like that in the busy city.”

The Chadema MP asked the government to tell Dar es Salaam residents when they should expect to enjoy uninterrupted water supply.

He also wanted to know the legal action that will be taken against the people who were involved in implementing the project, which did not produce water for the people in the city.

In his motion, which prompted a heated a hot debate yesterday evening in the house, the legislator stated that Dar es Salaam loses 128,000 litres of water a day through leakage, which is equivalent to 45 percent of the total amount being pumped out.

“This has been caused by damaged water pipes and illegal water usage. Sewerage services have also gone down to 10 percent of households which have been connected to the system across the city,” he said.

He recommended that the house direct the government to take practical and swift actions to improve water supply in Dar es Salaam.

The lawmaker also asked the house to order the Controller Auditor General (CAG) to audit the so-called ‘Chinese water supply project’, specifically on ‘value for money auditing’.

Mnyika also wanted the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) to inspect on the effectiveness of the drilled water wells and 200 water kiosks build in various corners of the city.

He also asked the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water to extensively discuss an audited report on management and water supply in Tanzania’s urban centers.