Dodoma/Dar. Ten Chadema lawmakers yesterday attended Parliament’s budget session despite the party’s call for all its MPs to boycott the meetings in response to Covid-19 threats.
Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe told The Citizen yesterday that the MPs had violated the party’s joint decision - and that the relevant party organs would discuss and decide on the issue accordingly.
“Even MPs from the ruling CCM were in Parliament in line with their party’s decision…
“When it reaches that point, it is no longer an individual’s decision but rather the party’s decision,” said Mr Mbowe.
Chadema MPs who attended yesterday’s session include David Silinde (Momba), Peter Lijualikali (Kilombero), Joseph Selasini (Rombo), Jaffar Michael (Moshi Urban) and Anthony Komu (Moshi Rural).
Others are Special Seats MPs Mariam Msabaha, Suzan Masele, Cesilia Pareso, Latifa Chande and Joyce Sokombi.
Mr Komu and Mr Selasini have already declared in the past that they would join NCCR-Mageuzi party at the end of this parliament, while Mr Michael has announced his decision not to seek re-election.
Mr Michael said yesterday that his decision focused on the importance of advising the government on people’s health.
He said Mr Mbowe made the position because he valued lawmakers, saying they were too advising the government to improve welfare of frontline healthcare workers while taking all the necessary precaution while in parliament.
Debating the 2020/2021 budget for the ministry of Works, Transport and Communications, Mr Selasini said attended the session because he recognised his responsibilities.
He said there was no rule allowing MPs to boycott or skip parliamentary sessions without the permission of the National Assembly Speaker or his deputy.
“I’m advocating interests of my voters. The steering committee can discuss and take care of the rest of the issues.
“If we want the President to dissolve the Parliament we could advice using Regulation 30,” he said.
He said there were no evidence of an MP who died of Covid-19, noting that no decision to boycott the parliament over unsubstantiated Covid-19 threat.
Debating the Works, Transport and Communications budget for the new financial year in the National Assembly yesterday, Mr Silinde called on the government to set aside more funds for fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, which has been ravaging both developped and developing countries.
Last week, Chadema through its national chairman Freeman Mbowe directed its MPs to boycott parliamentary sessions and committees over coronavirus infection threats.
Mr Mbowe also instructed party members to refrain from going close to parliamentary buildings in Dodoma and Dar es Salaam over similar concerns.
“The party has continued to receive with deep sadness the deaths of parliamentarians and other Tanzanians as the deadly virus continues to spread... We direct all Chadema MPs to self-isolate for not less than two weeks.
“Our MPs are also urged to avoid visiting their constituencies and instead, they should remain in Dodoma until when the situation normalises,” said the statement.
The statement urges MPs from other political parties to contemplate whether the situation was safe for the parliamentary sessions to continue.
“We want the parliament to take necessary steps including suspending parliamentary activities for at least 21 days for the MPs and workers to quarantine themselves,” it states.
Also, the party suggests that all MPs, workers and their families should be tested to determine their status and take appropriate measures.
According to Chadema, specific parliamentary committees, such as the parliamentary services committee and the steering committee could conduct their meetings online in order to arrive at important administrative decisions.
The National Assembly Speaker Job Ndugai said the main opposition political party has broken no rule.