VIDEO: Tanzania parliament sitting starts with opposition MPs demanding debate on Covid-19

Tuesday March 31 2020

By Alawi Masare @AMasare malawi@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Two opposition lawmakers called for a debate in Parliament on Tuesday March 31, 2020 to deliberate effective measures for containing spread of coronavirus and offset possible social and economic impact caused by the viral disease.

Chadema’s Halima Mdee (Kawe) and Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban) raised the motion after Speaker of the Parliament Job Ndugai finished presenting his guidelines on how the sessions will be conducted to contain spreading of the pandemic.

Mr Ndugai announced the measures taken by the House including reducing the number of MPs to get into the debating chamber to a maximum of 150 at once and cutting working hours from nine to four.

Ms Mdee said the measures were a good approach but wanted the Parliament to debate the issue in depth and suggest further actions to protect ordinary Tanzanians.

“For instance, when this disease gets more serious, there are businesses which will be affected and ordinary Tanzanians will not have chance to generate income for their daily bread. How do we compensate these businesses and make a poor Tanzanian stay at home? We need to discuss and possibly, have a special budget for this,” said Ms Mdee during the session broadcast live from Dodoma.

“We are talking about social distancing but this is easily possible for middle class and some privileged class of Tanzanians. What about those people in the streets who struggle for transport and crowd the markets? We need to talk,” she added.

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Ms Mdee also proposed that all MPs be tested so they can know their status as a way of controlling further spread of the disease.

“I attended one of the committee meetings and there was concern about implementation of the health budget which was so far released by just 15 percent. How do we fight coronavirus with such trend,” she added.

Mr Msigwa also stood for a similar issue, saying more attention was needed on top of good measures already taken by the government.

“The government should clearly explain what it’s doing and together, we come up with ways of fighting the coronavirus disease,” said Mr Msigwa.

Mr Ndugai said the MPs will have a chance to deliberate on the issues starting Wednesday (April 1, 2020) once the Prime Minister’s Office tables its budget estimates.

“Let’s start tomorrow when Prime Minister’s Office tables its budget. He is the leader of the committee formed to coordinate the fight against coronavirus,” said Mr Ndugai.

On testing the lawmakers, Mr Ndugai said his office will work on the proposal and it was possible to do that.

Tanzania has so far confirmed 19 cases of coronavirus since the first patient was identified on March 16. One person has also recovered and the first death was recorded on Tuesday.