According to a tentative programme announced here by the current Speaker of the National Assembly, Job Ndugai, Sitta’s body will be airlifted from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma and received by parliamentary representatives at the airport.
The casket will then be driven to the parliament buildings, carried into the debating chamber, and placed right in front of the Speaker’s table where legislators will have their chance to eulogise and pay last respects.
This will be the first time a special in-house parliamentary session is conducted solely for the purpose of paying last respects to a departed former or current member, regardless of rank.
“It will be a historic event and will set a precedent on how to pay last respects to fallen national leaders in our parliament” Ndugai said.
According to the Speaker, both the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, and the official Opposition Leader in Parliament, Freeman Mbowe, will lead legislators from both the ruling and opposition parties in giving brief eulogies.
But he said the schedule is too tight to allow lawmakers to view the body as per normal tradition, mainly because of limited time. The casket will be in the House for only two hours before being flown to Iramba in Urambo, Tabora Region at around 4 pm for the formal burial scheduled for Saturday.
Ndugai requested the minister directly responsible for parliamentary affairs, Jenista Mhagama, to revoke some clauses of the parliamentary Standing Orders to allow the ceremony to be held as planned.
Mhagama later asked the House to approve a motion to revoke Standing Orders clauses 189 (1) and 143 (e to f), thereby allowing people who are not members of parliament to enter the debating chamber.
Revocation of the first clause will allow no more than 10 people comprising family members and close friends of the late Sitta to enter the House to witness the event, while the second will allow the casket carrying the body of the deceased to be brought into the chamber.
The late Sitta passed away on Sunday night at the Technical University of Munich Hospital in Germany where he was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. He had been in a poor state of health for several months.
In 50 years of public service, he held various senior political and government positions. He was MP for Urambo from 1975 and 1995, and held several ministerial posts in successive governments.
He served as the ninth Speaker of the National Assembly from 2005 to 2010, and was known for his slogan of ‘Standards and Speed’. Later in 2014, he served as chairperson of the Constituent Assembly.