Tanzanian legislator, Mpina, barred from attending 15 parliamentary sittings

A combo photo showing Luhaga Mpina (Kisesa-CCM) leaving the parliamentary chamber on Monday June 24, after he was banned from attending 15 parliamentary sittings. PHOTO | CITIZEN CORREPONDENT

What you need to know:

  • The penalty was unanimously decided by Members of Parliament following Mpina's contempt of Parliament and failure to substantiate his claims against the Minister of Agriculture

Dodoma. The Parliament has suspended Kisesa legislator Luhaga Mpina from attending 15 sittings for contempt of Parliament and failing to substantiate claims that Agriculture Minister Hussein Bashe lied to Parliament.

The Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Tulia Ackson, announced that Mpina will be barred from attending five sittings of the ongoing budget session starting on June 24.

Additionally, he will miss the September Parliament, which consists of nine sittings.

She said that the combined total of five sittings for the budget session and nine for September amounts to 14.

Mpina would consequently miss one sitting of the November 2024 Parliament to make it 15 sittings.

The suspension will conclude at that point, and Mpina will resume attending Parliament in the second sitting of the November 2024 session.

Additionally, the Speaker emphasised that Mpina is prohibited from entering parliamentary premises or participating in any parliamentary or committee activities.

Presenting the resolution of the Parliamentary Privileges, Ethics and Powers Committee in the august House on Monday, June 24, 2024, committee chairperson Ally Makoa stated that Mpina had been found guilty of contempt of Parliament.

The committee recommended that Parliament suspend Mpina for 10 sittings in accordance with standing orders.

Upon tabling the motion, the Speaker asked those opposed to say "nay" and those in favour to say "yea." The supporters of the motion won unanimously.

Speaker Tulia reiterated that according to parliamentary standing orders, Mpina would be suspended for a minimum of 15 sittings and a maximum of 20 sittings.

She then requested several individual MPs to propose the number of sittings for Mpina's suspension, and they unanimously suggested 15, which was accepted by Parliament.

After announcing the decision to suspend Mpina, the Speaker instructed him to gather his belongings and vacate the Parliament chambers.

How the Mpina controversy started

On June 4, Speaker Tulia ordered Mr Mpina to submit evidence to Parliament after he accused Mr Bashe of lying in Parliament and for violating the sugar importation laws.

The Speaker directed that Mpina's evidence reach her office by June 14, 2024.

However, after Mpina submitted the evidence to the Speaker’s office, he proceeded to hold a press conference and disclose the details of the evidence to reporters.

It was Mpina's contempt of Parliament and disregard for parliamentary proceedings that prompted the Speaker to refer him to the Parliamentary Privileges, Ethics, and Powers Committee.

The Speaker also instructed the committee to examine MPina’s evidence against Bashe and present the report to Parliament by June 24, 2024.

Many MPs who debated the resolution to ban Mr Mpina advocated for severe punishment.

Some vowed to escalate his disciplinary issues to the CCM National Executive Committee (NEC), which is set to convene on June 30, 2024.

MPs intending to bring the matter to the CCM NEC include Joseph Kasheku Musukuma (Geita Rural) and Livingstone Lusinde (Mvumi).

MPs who said they would take him to the CCM NEC included Joseph Kasheku Musukuma (Geita rural) and Livingstone Lusinde (Mvumi).

Musukuma said this was not the first time for Mpina to scorn Parliament because, when he was Minister of Livestock and Fisheries, a couple of years ago, he sent fish inspection officials to the Parliament’s canteen to measure fish length with a ruler.

Musukuma said Mpina averted a severe punishment because he apologised to Parliament and the then Speaker, Job Ndugai, forgave him.

Augustine Vuma Holle (Kasulu rural), in addition to asking Mpina to apologise to Parliament, also asked his fellow MPs to advise Mpina to resign from Parliament.

Other MPs who debated the resolution include Hamis Tabasamu (Sengerema) and Godwin Kunambi (Mlimba), who also asked Mpina to apologise to Parliament.

Yet others are Katani Katani (Tandahimba), Mariam Ditopile (Special Seats), Elibariki Kingu (Singida West), Tauhida Gallos and Cecilia Pareso (Special Seats), Prof Patrick Ndakidemi (Moshi Rural), and Josephat Gwajima (Kawe).