Chadema 19 MPs to continue serving, says High Court

Tuesday May 17 2022
Bungen pic
By The Citizen Reporter

Dar es Salaam. The High Court of Tanzania has ruled in favour of the 19 Special Seat Members of Parliament (MPs) to continue serving as legislators pending the verdict of their objection regarding their expulsion. .
Earlier, Chadema national vice chairperson (mainland) Tundu Lissu had accused the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Tulia Ackson, saying her decision regarding the 19 ‘Chadema’ special seat MPs, was politically motivated.
However, when she spoke to journalists later yesterday, Dr Ackson distanced herself from Chadema’s accusation saying she had to use her legal intellect after she had learnt that a miscellaneous case number 16 of 2022 was logged at the Tanzania High Court in Dar es Salaam.
Therefore, said she: “The parliament cannot interfere with court proceedings, until the court reaches its verdict then I will let you know accordingly.”
But still Mr Lissu, claim that when an MP loses his seat by whether being stripped of his or her membership of a political party or whatever reasons, then he/she immediately gets disqualified.
“They should be out of the parliament until the High Court, or the Court of Appeal decides otherwise,” Mr Lissu added. “This is what happened to me when I was kicked out of the Parliament by the then Speaker [Job Ndugai].”
Mr Lissu who, doubles as a lawyer, said he went to the High Court to seek the court’s permission to challenge the Speaker’s verdict, but was denied and then he appealed though up to the end of 11th Parliament seating, there was no hearing.
“The fact that I had appealed, Ndugai’s decision did not change my status as a sacked MP. Same applied to Lema (Godbless), the High Court decided to strip him of his parliamentary seat. He appealed the decision, but he was out of the Parliament until the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court decision.” Mr Lissu insisted.
He recalled eight members of parliament sponsored by the opposition CUF saying: “When they were expelled from their party [in 2017], they lost their eligibility to continue serving as MPs and were immediately kicked out of the parliament though they went to court.”
Mr Lissu understands that Ms Ackson is a law PhD holder, and was one time a lecturer, deputy attorney general and that she knows the law of the land but he neither saw nor understood legal merits of her decision.
For his part, the director of communications and foreign affairs for Chadema, Mr John Mrema, said: “What the vice chairperson said is our stand as a party. And we insist that speaker’s verdicts on the matter is purely political.”
The 19 special seats Members of Parliament were expelled last week by the party’s governing council that sat in Dar es Salaam.
When speaking in Parliament, Dr Ackson admitted that she had received an email from Chadema’s secretary general John Mnyika regarding the status of the MPs.
She, however, said that she was informed by the 19 MPs that they had already filed a case at the High Court against the Chadema’s decision to strip them of party membership by the central committee and later the party’s governing council quashed their appeal.
“According to our constitution the authority responsible for justice is the court. So, in a country that is led by the rule of law, one pillar should not interfere with the duties of the other,” she said.
The Speaker added: “The Parliament cannot interfere with the judicial process and must wait a court decision.”
In addition, she said she is only responsible to speak anything regarding the matter of the 19 MPs.
“If there are questions on these lawmakers, the one to be asked is the Speaker and should the court decide otherwise, I will come and announce here,” she said.