Ruling party MPs rebel against the government in parliament

19May 2018
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Ruling party MPs rebel against the government in parliament
  • “We don’t harbor any malice against cabinet ministers. I do not hate Magufuli … I voted for him and campaigned for him for 60 days (in 2015),” Nzega MP Hussein Bashe.

A former cabinet minister and an outspoken Member of Parliament are leading a small but feisty rebellion against budget proposals of some ministries in the ongoing Parliament session in Dodoma, pointing to growing concerns from a section of ruling party MPs against various government policies.

The Mtama MP, Nape Nnauye, who was sacked by President John Magufuli in March last year as the Minister for Information, Arts, Culture and Sports and the Nzega lawmaker, Hussein Bashe, have been notably vocal in Parliament against budget proposals from various ministries.

Earlier this week, the two CCM lawmakers launched a scathing attack against the government, accusing it of going against the ruling party’s 2015 election manifesto by neglecting the key sectors of agriculture and livestock in budget allocations.

They urged fellow MPs to reject 2018/19 budget estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Livestock Development and Fisheries until the government comes back with more serious proposals for allocating financial resources for development programmes in the two key ministries.

The lawmakers noted that despite the fact that the agriculture sector was the backbone of the economy, contributing more than 30 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), allocation of funds as a proportion of the whole government budget was below 1 per cent and has been steadily declining over the past two years.

“One of the objectives of the establishment of CCM … is to safeguard the rights and development of farmers, workers and other citizens,” Bashe said yesterday in Parliament.

“Those in government should ask themselves, are they fulfilling their obligations to more than 8 million CCM members who stood in queues to vote (in the 2015 general election) and put this government in power?”

Bashe said President John Magufuli’s government under the ruling party had a contract to fulfil to Tanzanians who voted it in power in the 2015 general election.

“We can’t continue with business as usual. It’s unacceptable that the government fails to fulfil its promises and we end up punishing our citizens. We cannot allow this,” he charged.

He spoke against what he described as “strange politics” in the National Assembly where CCM lawmakers who exercised their parliamentary role of scrutinising the government were branded as anti-government MPs.

“We do not harbor any malice against cabinet ministers … I do not hate Magufuli. I voted for him and campaigned for him for 60 days (in 2015),” Bashe declared.

“If President Magufuli was not my (preferred) candidate in 2020 (upcoming general elections), I wouldn’t care to say all these things that I’ve been saying in Parliament all the time. But because I know that he (Magufuli) is my candidate, I will continue to speak out as long as I am an MP.”

Bashe has previously remarked in Parliament that he was not afraid of losing his post as MP for criticizing the government.

Earlier this week, Nnauye strongly criticised the 2018/19 budget proposals for the Ministry of Agriculture in Parliament and urged the government to withdraw the estimates.

“For the first time, it appears that a majority of MPs oppose these budget proposals regardless of their political affiliations,” Nnauye said.

“My advice to the (Agriculture) Minister and the government is that we should accept the reality and withdraw these budget proposals so that they can be reviewed and re-submitted in parliament.”

Nnauye noted that while the prices for most crops, including maize, cashew nuts, cotton, sesame seeds and pigeon peas, have plunged, prices of major commodity goods such as cooking oil and sugar had skyrocketed, causing hardships to the country’s farmers and general public.

Other MPs urged the government to halt an ongoing campaign against illegal fishing gear in Lake Victoria, saying it was destroying the livelihoods of fishing communities.

Abdallah Bulembo, a nominated CCM lawmaker, who is a former member of the ruling party’s central committee, said there was evidence of fishermen being beaten and harassed and called for a probe against human rights violations in the government’s campaign against illegal fishing gears in the country’s largest lake.

He warned that the anti-fishing campaign could hurt CCM in its traditional Lake Zone area stronghold if immediate action was not taken against government officials and security forces accused of harassing fishermen.Sixtus Mapunda (Mbinga Urban-CCM), a former secretary general of the ruling party’s youth wing, spoke passionately in Parliament against harassment of fishermen.