Parliament sinks to new low as MPs fight with security officers
Posted Thursday, September 5 2013 at 22:30
- Mr Mbilinyi ran towards the officer and head-butted him before they were quickly separated. Earlier, a total of 156 MPs voted against the withdrawal of the Bill and 59 supported it.
Dodoma. Opposition MPs and members of Parliament security team exchanged blows as the august House degenerated into a theatre of chaos yesterday.
Parliament’s debating chamber was turned into a boxing arena when the Sergeant at Arms attempted to forcibly throw out the Leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament, Mr Freeman Mbowe, as ordered by Deputy Speaker Job Ndugai. Mr Ndugai ordered that the Chadema supremo be kicked out for disregarding his orders to sit down. Mr Mbowe was protesting the move by the Deputy Speaker to bar him from moving a motion to block continuation of the debate on the Bill for Amendment of the Constitutional Review Act 2013.
Chaos soon ensued on the floor as other opposition MPs rushed to form a human shield around Mr Mbowe to prevent the security men from throwing him out.
For about 30 minutes, business came to a standstill with the two parties sizing and roughing up each other. The picture that unravelled in the glare of television cameras was akin to the drama associated with notoriously rowdy parliament chambers around the world, especially in the former USSR states and the Far East.
Egged on by ruling party MPs and with Ndugai losing his patience, the sentries moved with the aim to force Mr Mbowe out. However, their move ignited a free-for-all brawl and the House got engulfed in an unprecedented physical confrontation between Honourable Members of the august House.
One of the officers punched Joseph Mbilinyi (Mbeya Urban-Chadema) in his face and another pushed to the ground Moses Machali (Kasulu Urban-NCCR-Mageuzi).
As the push and pull intensified, the group walked out in a huff trailed by the hawk-eyed security men.
More drama would unfold outside the chamber as Mbilinyi sought to revenge against the officer who punched him. Mr Mbilinyi ran towards the officer and head-butted him before they were quickly separated. Earlier, a total of 156 MPs voted against the withdrawal of the Bill and 59 supported it.
The mood for the ugliness which was to later unfold was set in the morning when, during the PM’s question and answer session, Mr Mbowe beseeched the government to withdraw the Bill and consult further over the amendments. But Premier Mizengo Pinda maintained that the government had no powers against a decision that is under the mandate of the Parliament.
Mr Mbowe’s appeal came only a day after the opposition MPs marched out – on Wednesday – over the same matter.
They feel the Bill bears flaws that could derail the constitutional review process.
“No one sees the importance of withdrawing this Bill, but the matter can be discussed in due course and an agreement could be reached here,” Mr Pinda said.