Tanzania: Opposition Mulls Ousting Deputy Speaker

Opposition is considering to walk out of debating chamber every time the deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Tulia Ackson, will be chairing sessions, claiming that "she is the problem."

Leader of the opposition camp Mr Freeman Mbowe told journalists that they would endorse the decision in the meeting which they were holding after being removed out of the hall.

The opposition MPs were forcibly removed from the chamber for making noise after they demanded the government statement over 7, 000 students of the University of Dodoma who were 'wrongly' sent home.

Earlier in the morning, Dr Ackson adjourned the House business till evening as majority of the lawmakers stood up and disturb operations demanding her to suspend all other activities to deliberate the fate of the students.

She also summoned the steering committee to discuss the MPs' move.

"The steering committee directed the government to issue a statement on reinstating the students but the deputy speaker decided to proceed with winding-up of the ministry of water budget," said Mr Mbowe.

When the evening session started, Minister for Education Prof Joyce Ndalichako was not in the chamber to give the statement.

"First of all, deputy speaker proceeded with other activities while the issue at hand that forced her to adjourn the morning session was not finished. Secondly, the timetable was so squeezed that it cut short debate on water. They did this to have ample time for announcing punishment to opposition MPs," said Mr Mbowe.

"Now we have discovered that she is the main problem. Many of the Parliamentary decisions and procedures are not respected because of her. We will walk out every time she is in the chair until she resigns," added Mr Mbowe.

When the opposition MPs were walking out, Dr Ackson announced that Mr Joshua Nassari (Arumeru East-Chadema) and Ms Esther Bulaya (Bunda-Chadema) would be taken to the Parliamentary Powers, Immunities and Ethics committee for grilling.

How is started

The issue started just after the Questions and Answers session when deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Tulia Ackson announced that she received information that the government wanted to issue a statement about sending home of the University of Dodoma students.

Prof Joyce Ndalichako explained that 7 802 students who were pursuing a special diploma in science education were sent home on Sunday due to the fact that they were not having classes as tutors laid down tools.

She said the lecturers wanted extra payment for teaching the diploma students but the amount they demanded was not agreed by the internal auditor who said it was too much.

"So, while we are sorting all those issues, we decided to send the students home. They are not learning anything, why should they continue being here?" said Prof Ndalichako.

Mr Juma Nkamia (Chemba-CCM) emerged to seek speaker's guidance in the same matter saying that the government punished innocent students and that the move put majority of them in a terrible environment.

"Many students do not have relatives here and were forced to spend last night at bust station. Why is the government punishing innocent students," he added.

He also went further to move a motion that the House suspends all other debates to discuss the fate of the students, a motion that was supported by majority of MPs from both camps.

However, Dr Ackson who also sympathized with the students, said Mr Nkamia's guidance seeking was not in line with the relevant standing orders.

Mr Joshua Nassari stood up and this time he had quoted correct sections of the standing orders demanding to postpone other debates in favour of the Udom students' fate.

Dr Ackson said that she was not convinced if the matter deserved to kill other debates as the government was still working on it.

Almost all opposition MPs stood up resisting deputy speaker's guidance and some from the ruling party including Mr Nkamia supported the move.Dr Ackson adjourned the House businesses and summoned the steering committee to discuss the move by MPs.

MPs unite

MPs seemed united over the issue forgetting their party ideological differences. "We won't continue with deliberations about the ministry of water this afternoon until we discuss the fate of students," said Mr Fred Mwakajoka (Tunduma-Chadema) outside the debating chamber.

"This is very sad especially for patriotic Tanzanians. The government introduced this special diploma in science education to bridge the gap of science teachers but yet the students are being mistreated. I will be the first CCM MP to reject other businesses until this is debated," said Mr Kangi Lugola (Mwibara-CCM).

Parallel to that, some party caucuses were taking place in the Bunge grounds as the opposition was hinted to plan ousting Dr Ackson as deputy speaker.

Source: The Citizen