Parliament, Zanzibar House of Reps open business amid friction

Thursday May 28 2020

 

By William Shao

Dar es Salaam. The Union Parliament under the multiparty political system started its sittings on Friday, November 24, 1995 at the Karimjee Hall in Dar es Salaam.
However, members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives had started sittings in Unguja Town much earlier.On the first day of its sitting, the Union MPs voted to elect the first Speaker in a new political setting.
The poll results were in favour of Pius Msekwa as House Speaker who scooping 219 votes, equivalent to 83.1 percent of the total valid votes cast.
 He defeated his opponents including Mwinyihamisi Mushi (NCCR-Mageuzi), who collected 24 votes (9.2 percent); Chief Abdallah Fundikira (UMD; 10 votes, equivalent to 3.83 percent) and Dr Humphrey Alec Chemponda (TPP, one vote, or 0.38 percent).
The total number of the votes cast was 261, with seven spoiled votes.The vote counting indicated that MPs on the CCM ticket were politi-cally mature - if only because not all of them voted for their fellow CCM member, Mr Msekwa.
Due to that fact, Dr Chemponda would not have collected that one vote nor would Mushi have garnered 24 votes.
This is taking into account the fact that at that time NCCR-Mageuzi had no more than 20 MPs and Chemponda’s TPP secured no House seat.After the Speaker was sworn in, debates in Parliament began.
Opposition MPs were in their true colours soon after the first sitting of Parliament began when they convinced Speaker Msekwa to change the procedure of swearing-in a new MP.
That move came when Rorya lawmaker Mabere Marando came up with an argument, during the Parliament’s evening session, calling for striking off the words that required Members of Parliament to obey the government when taking an oath.
 He argued that taking an oath there should not be the utterance of the words “the Government of ...” as they were uttered during the morning session on that the day in Parliament.

Marando argued further that Parliament’s Regulation No. 25 that was being used by the MPs when taking an oath had the words, “I will obey the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania.”
He argued that it was improper for Parliament to obey the government because the august House, as one of the three pillars of State, deserved to obey the republic and not the govern-ment.Marando mentioned the three pillars as Legislature, Executive and Judiciary and argued: “...through that logic it is incorrect for one pillar to obey another.”At that juncture,
Speaker Pius Msekwa asked Attorney General Andrew Chenge to clear the air over the matter. AG Chenge explained that, since Parliament was under the government it was a must to take the oath of allegiance before that particular government.
However, Chenge’s argument was opposed by Ubungo MP Masumbuko Lamwai (NCCR-Mageuzi), who concurred with Marando that Parliament was a pillar with full authority and was working under the Republic and not under the government.
However, the Speaker agreed with the opposition and ordered the words in question “the government of …’’ be struck off the oath and replaced with “I shall be faithful to the United Republic of Tanzania.”
After the argument sailed through, Musoma Rural MP (NCCR-Mageuzi), James Ndobho, came up with the argument that since the oath was invalid, then all those oaths taken in the morning by some prospective lawmakers were invalid and they would need to take the oath again.
The MPs who took oaths in the morning before the changes were made were Ukerewe MP (CCM) Pius Msekwa - who was the Bunge Speaker; Mwanga MP (CCM) Cleopa Msuya, who was chairman of MPs before the Speaker was obtained and Attorney General Andrew Chenge.
The opposition MPs chose the Chakechake member (CUF) of the House of Representatives, Fatuma Maghimbi, to become the Chief Whip in Parliament.
Fatuma landed to that position after her CUF party merged with the UDP party, making a total of more than 30 MPs to be constitutionally accepted as an opposition group hence obtaining the mandate to form a shadow government.
According to Bunge laws on Political Parties, an opposition leader within the Parliament would be chosen by a party with 20 MPs or more. So, CUF merged with UDP to obtain their leader as the former had 28 MPs while UDP had four.
However, things did not go well on the part of Zanzibar’s House of Representatives as there was ten-sion from the very first day of its sit-ting in November in Zanzibar Town, whereby CUF members of the House of Representatives also attended the meeting.
However, 28 CUF members of the House of Representatives out of 29, who attended that meeting did not vote for Speaker, Deputy Speaker and chairman of the House of Representatives.

Instead, all CCM members of the House of Representatives voted for Pandu Ameir Kificho to become Speaker of the House.
Kificho, a lawyer by profession, was a member of the previous House of Representatives for Makunduchi constituency.Mwera’s representative on the CCM ticket, Juma Matogo, was cho-sen to become Deputy Speaker and CCM’s representative was elected chairperson of the House of Representatives.
In the activities of the House of Representatives, CUF was led by Abubakar Hamisi Bakari, who was the representative of Magogoni Constituency in Pemba and the Chief Whip as well.
Bakari, who was immensely used in the preparation of Zanzibar’s Constitution that is effective until now, was once minister of State in the Chief Minister’s Office from 1984 to 1987 when he was expelled together with Chief Minister Seif Sharif Hamad.
Tension in the House of Representatives began soon after the exercise of swearing-in CCM members of the House of Representatives ended.
For their part, CUF members of the House of Representatives boycotted the evening session of the august House and as well refused to take oaths of allegiance to the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar on claim that they did not recognize the particular revolution and that the oath was created with the purpose of serving one political party system.
They argued that they would be ready to take oaths of allegiance to the State of Zanzibar, but not to the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar.However, they agreed to take oaths of allegiance to the House of Representatives (HoR).
The evening session continued to elect five members, who would participate in the Parliament of the Unit-ed Republic on behalf of the House of Representatives.
 CCM gave five names while CUF, which boycotted the exercise of electing five members to represent the HoR, produced 23 names to vie for the positions.
On November 6, the CUF members of the House of Representatives boycotted the launch of the august House by the Zanzibar President, Dr Salmin Amour.
They also insisted on not cooperating with the President for what they claimed he ascended to power without the consent of the people of Zanzibar.
The friction between CUF and CCM started after the end of Zanzibar’s October 22 polls and Dr Salmin Amour declared by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission as the winner of the position of president of Zanzibar over his opponent, Seif Sharif Hamad.
After the poll results were announced, CUF complained to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) over evil acts which, they claimed, were perpetrated upon the residents of Pemba by the Zanzibar Government.
The party’s statement to the media and to OAU Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim said the dubious victory of CCM in the polls would cause political disorder on the islands.
The statement claimed that, since Dr Salmin was declared President of Zanzibar, the CUF members living in Ugunja had been persecuted and harassed by CCM members.
However, since the General Election had already taken place and its results published, there were no changes that could be made even after CUF continued to complain well up to the holding of the Year- 2000 polls five years later.