Tanzania's Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Tulia Ackson, has stated that they were not aware that 40 Members of Parliament (MPs) attended a capacity building seminar for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) over the weekend.
The Seminar in question was convened with the objective of equipping the lawmakers with comprehensive views to enable them to effectively debate the contentious Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) No. 3 Bill of 2019 that will redefine the scope of operations of NGOs in Tanzania if passed.
Following the publication of the proposed Bill, over 30 NGOs met and issued a statement on Saturday expressing their dissatisfaction with the Bill. The MPs described the amendments as a 'dark cloud' in Tanzania's development endeavours. This meeting subsequently led to the seminar on Sunday which was attended by 40 MPs. The MPs attendance sparked controversy with a section of the media alleging that some of the MPs had been bribed so that they can vote against the passing of the amendments in Parliament.
The MPs did not waste time in displaying their disdain for the media publications which they cited as defamatory and meant to bring Parliament into disrepute. One legislator, Ms. Salome Makamba who stood on a point of order seeking the Deputy Speaker's guidance on the 'contentious publications' realised that she had put her foot in her mouth when her request was met with the Deputy Speaker's 'Parliament was not aware response'.
Yesterday, the Parliament invited 40 MPs to a capacity building seminar on the Bill. It is a shame that some media outlets and social media platforms are reporting that the MPs have been bribed so they can thwart the passing of the bill in question," she stated in asking the Deputy speaker's guidance on the action (if any) that Parliament should take against the publications.
In response, however, the Deputy Speaker said that Parliament was not aware that 40 MPs had participated in a capacity building seminar that deliberated on the Bill. Given that Parliament did not know about the seminar, it would appear that she has left the MPs sort out the issue in their own personal capacity. She said that MPs who felt offended by the publications should seek legal redress. The Deputy Speaker's remarks have elicited many reactions with some local residents poking fun at the MPs on social media. Some of the top comments on social media are:
How is it that our MPs went to a seminar organised by Parliament yet Parliament does not even know about it?" said one user.
Ndiyo hiyo sasa. Unapojaribu kumhadaa mwajiri wako halafu unajitega," said another user. loosely translated to mean "There you go. when you try to deceive your employer and you end up tripping yourself."
And we wonder why we are not developing. How do you snitch on yourself like that," commented another user.
Header Image Credit: Millardayo