Dar es Salaam. Parliament yesterday passed a Bill which was hotly resisted by Opposition and activists for what they described as providing immunity to heads of state organs.
A total of 220 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) opposed the amendments which they said contravene constitutional rights, including equality before the law, separation of powers, accountability, public interest and the Constitution’s status as the mother law.
They said the proposed the Written Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) (No. 3) of 2020 would set a danger-ous precedent for Parliament to tamper with the country’s cornerstones: peace, unity and democracy.
After a heated debate in the august House, the National Assembly approved the Bill which amends 13 different laws.
“A majority of the MPs voted for the Bill and now we wait for the President to sign it into law,” said Deputy Speaker Tulia Ackson after the amendment was passed.
Some of the amended laws include the Basic Rights and Duties Enforcement Act (1994) - by introducing restrictions on filing cases related to violation of constitutional rights.
The law provides the right to apply to the High Court for redress in case one alleges violation of rights and duties stated in articles 12 to 29 of the Union Constitution.
The amendment states that “An application under this section shall not be admitted by the High Court unless it is accompanied by an affidavit stating the extent to which the contravention of provisions of articles 12 to 29 of the constitution has affected such person personally."
The CSOs said they can no longer get this affidavit because they always file cases in which other people are affected.
The rights groups also said it’s another loss after last year they were blocked from filing cases against the government in the African rights court.
The activists and Opposition were also against provision that discontinues filing cases against the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, the Speaker, Deputy Speaker or Chief Justice for any act or omission done in the performance of their duties, and demanding such petition be brought against the Attorney General.
The amendment aims to empower the High Court to reject cases which do not meet that requirement - and, thus, enhance provisions on the immunity of heads of state organs.
They also opposed amendment of Judiciary Administration Act which extends immunity to judicial officers in case they err “in good faith in