Tanzania High Court rejects plea to stop swearing-in of ruling party MP-elect in Tundu Lissu case

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Mr Lissu’s application rejecting various issues surrounding stripping off of his parliamentary seat is set to be given on September 9, 2019.

Dar es Salaam. The High Court of Tanzania gave a green light for the swearing in of Member of Parliament-elect for Singida East on Monday, September 2, 2019 when it dismissed a plea by former representative of the area, Tundu Lissu.

The ruling means that Miraji Mtaturu (CCM) will now be sworn-in as legitimate Member of Parliament (MP) for Singida East, a constituency that was under Mr Lissu who has been undergoing treatment in Belgium following several gun shots he received while in Dodoma in September, 2017.

Judge Sirillius Matupa delivered the ruling at 8:48 pm on Monday, following an application by Mr Lissu (Chadema) for a High Court permission to challenge a decision by the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Job Ndugai to declare his constituency vacant.

In the application that was filed under a certificate of urgency by Mr Lissu's brother, Mr Alute Mughwai, the outspoken MP also sought a High Court permission to suspend the swearing-in of Mr Mtaturu as MP-elect for Singida East.

But Judge Matupa ruled that in cases involving representation in the parliament, a person can be stripped off of his/her seat even after he/she has been already sworn-in.

He said the Court will rule on Mr Lissu’s main application on September 9, 2019.

In his main application, Mr Lissu is opposing Mr  Ndugai's decision to declare the Singida East Constituency vacant and thus prompting a by-election in which Mr Mtaturu was declared the winner.

Following the ruling, the timetable for the swearing-in of the MP-elect will proceed tomorrow, September 3, 2019 in Dodoma where the sessions for the 16th meeting of the law-making body is taking place.

Mr Job Ndugai, said on June 28, 2019 that he had written to the chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Judge Semistocles Kaijage, informing him that the Singida East constituency had fallen vacant.

Mr Ndugai issued two reasons for declaring Mr Lissu’s Seat vacant.

He said Section 71 (1) (C) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania directs that a Member of Parliament shall lose his/her seat if he/she misses attending three consecutive parliamentary sittings without permission from the Speaker.

“Mr Tundu Lissu has not been here for close to two years now and I do not have any information regarding his whereabouts….He has not informed me about how he was progressing with treatment and neither has he issued any information to my office through his party,” said Mr Ndugai.

The second reason, said Mr Ndugai, was that Mr Lissu has not signed and submitted the assets and liabilities declaration forms for over two years now, contrary to what the law requires.

“So in short, he has lost the qualities of being an MP as required by the constitution which we all swore to uphold,” said Mr Ndugai.