Dar es Salaam. Former Foreign Affairs minister Bernard Membe yesterday termed as unfortunate the decision by the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Job Ndugai, to strip Singida East MP Tundu Lissu (Chadema) of his seat.
Mr Membe said he was surprised to see Mr Ndugai announce that Mr Lissu had lost his parliamentary seat.
He said the news shocked him, but urged the public to wait until Mr Lissu returns home, saying that he was certain that the former president of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) would take the matter to court.
“And if there is any justice to be done, then the court is the right place for that,” pointed out Mr Membe, who sought CCM’s nomination as its presidential candidate in 2015.
He was speaking to the media in Dar es Salaam shortly after attending the hearing of a case in which he has sued a local publisher for libel.
Mr Lissu has been out of the country since September 2017 undergoing treatment in Nairobi and Brussels following the failed assassination attempt in Dodoma. Unknown gunmen sprayed his car with dozens of bullets, 16 of which pierced his body, seriously wounding him.
Mr Lissu, who was the opposition chief whip in Parliament, has condemned the move to eject him and indicated that he will challenge the decision in court.
He is due in the country on September 7, 2019, exactly two years after the failed attempt on his life.
Mr Ndugai said last week that he had written to the chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Judge Semistocles Kaijage, informing him that the Singida East seat was vacant. The electoral body is expected to announce a by-election any time.
Mr Ndugai said Mr Lissu had spent almost two years away without officially informing his office. The Speaker also accused the MP of not filling in wealth declaration forms with the Ethics Committee during the same period.
He said Section 71 (1) (C) of the Constitution directs that an MP shall lose his/her seat by missing three consecutive parliamentary meetings without permission from the Speaker.
But speaking in Dar es Salaam shortly after stepping out of the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court, Mr Membe said he was optimistic the court would uphold what is right.
Reacting to Mr Membe’s remarks, Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) secretary-general Charles Kitima said as an institution, they believe in the rule of law.
He said whatever that the nation does, whether to rectify a problem or prevent it, it must be on the basis of the law as established. Dr Kitima also said TEC believes in the right of individuals to enjoy life and freedom and their security be guaranteed. “Everybody should celebrate their lives and their humanity as well as enjoy freedom. God is for all, let’s advance peace, unity and equality,” he said in an interview. Dr Kitima noted that Tanzania’s constitution recognised the importance of justice and guaranteed rights of the people. He asked law enforcement agencies to dispense their duties in line with the law.
Chadema secretary-general Vincent Mashinji said Mr Membe’s voice adds to what they have always preached.
“We will continue to raise our voices over these issues,” he said.
CCM National Executive Council member Colonel (rtd) Ngemela Lubinga said people should not dwell on rumours but listen to what the authorities were saying.