Msekwa: Ndugai is right to summon CAG Assad, but...

10Jan 2019
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Msekwa: Ndugai is right to summon CAG Assad, but...

Pius Msekwa, a former long-serving National Assembly Speaker, has said current Speaker Job Ndugai did not err in summoning Controller and Auditor General (CAG) Prof Mussa Assad to appear before a parliamentary committee.

Former long-serving National Assembly Speaker, Pius Msekwa

Speaking to this paper in an interview yesterday, Msekwa was however quick to point out that he was only in support of the lawfulness of the message but not the language Ndugai used in deliver that message.

On Monday, Ndugai ordered Prof Assad to appear before the Parliamentary Privileges, Ethics and Powers Committee on January 21 to respond to allegations that he (CAG) showed disrespect for the legislative body following his recent remark in the US that the House was weak in its oversight role.

Ndugai was quoted as having also demanded that Assad presents himself to the committee on his own volition or risk being taken before the House in handcuffs.

“I’m in support of the act of summoning the CAG. I’m not talking about the language used…as everybody has their own choice of words and you can’t bicker over that,” said Msekwa.

The nature of the summons and the language used by Speaker Ndugai has touched off heated debate on social and mainstream media, with some people said it all amounted to intimidation and others questioning the legality of the summons itself, considering the “protection” the CAG enjoys under Tanzania’s Constitution of 1977.

Some cited Article 143 (6) of the Constitution, which shields the CAG from interference by other state entities except courts of law.

However, according to Msekwa, the Speaker has powers to summon “anybody” to appear before the House in connection with anything the Speaker believes undermines the powers of the legislative body.

“The parliamentary committee can find the person either innocent or guilty, but issuing a summons to anyone is within the powers of the Speaker,” he said.

The CAG is one of public servants with the highest security of tenure in Tanzania. Article 144 of the Constitution says the CAG may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of the office owing to illness or any other reason.

The CAG may also be removed from office owing to culpable misbehaviour or for violating provisions of the law as relates to ethics on the part of public leaders.

Should the CAG misbehave, so the constitution says, the President may form a special tribunal consisting of a chairman and members who have been High Court or Court of Appeal judges in any country within the Commonwealth. The tribunal then submits a report to the President for a final decision on the CAG’s fate.